Austin restaurants reopen with limited customers

Under Governor Greg Abbott’s latest executive order, phase one of reopening businesses in Texas started May 1. Friday, people in Austin were taking advantage of the opportunity to sit and dine, or drink, at some of their favorite Austin restaurants. 

“It’s great to be outside. Beautiful weather, with my loved ones, having a good time,” said Mike Loughrey, who was dining on the patio of Doc’s Backyard Grill. 

Restaurant owners have to follow several guidelines laid out by the state.

Tables are limited to six people or less, tables are spaced out, employees are screened for symptoms of COVID-19, condiments and menus are disposable, surfaces must be disinfected between customers and sanitizing stations are provided upon entry. 

"The spacing, no condiments on the table, little tear open stuff, it’s pretty much as safe as you can be,” said Scott Zublin, owner of Texas Chili Parlor. 

“You had a choice between plastic utensils wrapped up in plastic, or you could have the real utensils that have been cleaned,” said Lisa Mayo, who was eating lunch at Texas Chili Parlor. 

“You have to wash your hands as you come in. The waiters will have gloves on,” said Thomas Burrow, who was also a customer at Texas Chili Parlor. 

“Something very unique that they’re doing here at Doc's is, if you order a drink, you order lunch, they're bringing it out, placing it on a tray, you pick it up, pick it up off the tray, put it on your table, they’ll take that tray back towards the kitchen area, clean it, sanitize it,” Loughrey said. 


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It’s not the same size crowd you would usually expect to see dining out, but restaurant owners said they’re grateful for any added revenue right now. Zublin said Friday was the most customers he’s served for lunch in 40 days.  

“So far so good. I mean, it’s an increase of business over take out, so it’s positive, so let’s just be happy about that,” Zublin said. 

Customers who braved Austin’s restaurants said with all the added measures in place, they felt comfortable taking a seat.   


“First time out. I knew it wouldn’t be crowded in here at all and I walk in and they’ve got the hand sanitizer ready for you to go, and they got you spread out at the tables, so, yeah, we felt safe,” said Mayo. 

"I think Texas as a whole has done a phenomenal job, and Austin within Texas has done an even more amazing job, and we'll take the precautionary measures. We’re not doing anything illegal, nothing wrong, and we’re trying to be as safe as we can and still live our lives,” said Loughrey. 

Governor Greg Abbott said as long as there is no significant spike in cases, restaurants can move to phase two of reopening May 18. That would allow them to operate at 50 percent occupancy. 



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