LUBBOCK, TX — At least a dozen local restaurants have already shut their doors for good due to the pandemic, but a new announcement from Governor Greg Abbott may have come just in time to help those still struggling, according to the Lubbock Restaurant Association.
“Some of us have been doing okay and just making it, struggling to keep our head above water. Unfortunately, some of us have not been as lucky or fortunate and have not survived or may not survive depending on how long this continues,” Lubbock Restaurant Association president Chris Berry said.
Thursday, Gov. Abbott announced that many Texas businesses will be allowed to loosen their coronavirus restrictions, meaning that restaurants can increase to 75 percent capacity — if they want to — starting Monday.
“If the COVID hospitalizations are less than 15 percent of all hospitalizations for seven consecutive days, then the region is safe enough to allow additional openings,” Abbott said in a press conference.
Berry said that although he only knows of roughly 12 local restaurants that have shut down, there could be even more. He added that restaurants don’t have to report if they’ve closed, and he predicted that as many as 30 to 50 percent of restaurants in Texas and across the country could go under depending on how long the pandemic continues.
Berry also helps run River Smith’s Chicken & Catfish in Lubbock, and he said its revenue hit a record low over the summer, though sales have been slowly climbing back up since August.
“What we’re all relying on is for folks to feel comfortable going out to eat again, whether it’s takeout, whether it’s dining in, whatever they feel comfortable with, that’s really what we’re needing,” Berry said.
In the meantime, restaurants will still enforce safety measures for those who choose to come back, but they’re asking for help from their communities to stay afloat.
Berry said that if some might be hesitant to go back to in-person dining just yet, many restaurants are still offering no-contact options, such as curbside pickup, takeout and delivery.
“Restauranteurs are creative folks, so we’re going to do what we can to survive … We just want people to know that we’re here, ready when they’re ready to come out and eat, and we just hope that it’s sooner rather than later,” Berry said.