AUSTIN, Texas -- Even as many restaurants and retailers reopened their doors to a limited amount of customers Friday, some said it wasn’t worth it.
“For us, we are a 40-seat restaurant, so 10 guests is going to be significantly less than we're doing at a time than with takeout. So business-wise it doesn't make sense,” said Sarah Heard, co-owner and chef at Austin’s Foreign & Domestic restaurant.
Heard and her partner Nathan Lemly said they’ve had to furlough all but four cooks since mid-March when businesses were forced to close their dining rooms to the public to slow the spread of the coronavirus. They also say bringing staff back now doesn’t work.
“Bringing staff back in on the tip scale, it doesn't work for them. They're going to make not enough money at 25 percent capacity to pay their bills,” said Heard.
Gov. Greg Abbott allowed restaurants, retailers, movie theaters, malls and museums to open at 25 percent capacity Friday. He says he hopes to increase that capacity to 50 percent in the coming weeks if the state’s coronavirus cases remain steady and don’t spike.
“I think at 50 percent, there's a good chance we'll be able to open up to guests,” Lemly said. “It makes a little more sense financially. We possibly would be operating at a loss. It's still up in the air. Also we don't know if guests would feel comfortable to come in yet.”
Both Lemly and Heard also say safety is their biggest concern and if they can sustain takeout for the time being, they’ll be more comfortable bringing back employees and customers when the virus is better contained.
Click the video link to watch our full interview with Heard and Lemly.