LUBBOCK, Texas – On Monday, Lubbock restaurants opened to 75 percent capacity for the first time during the COVID-19 pandemic.
On Friday, Governor Gregg Abbott made the announcement that he would allow businesses to open to a higher capacity, starting Monday.
“We are hoping this will increase the consumer confidence for people to go out to eat again,” said Chris Berry, President of the Lubbock Restaurant Association. “If most people can commit to once or twice a week and eat out local with us with our local restaurants here in town, that would make all the difference in the world.”
Jamie Cofer, owner at Souper Salad off of Slide Road said the new change might not make too much of a difference due to social distancing still in place.
Cofer said one of the main reasons people might not be going out is fear.
“The reason we are not increasing at this point is not marketing or business,” he said, “It has to do with this idea of fear, people are scared to death. So I think that lacking a vaccine or something like that, I don’t know that anything is going to budge for businesses like ours.”
Cofer said he has seen less customers in his restaurant but has increased his staffing to make sure customers do not have to serve themselves.
“Now I’m running around with 50 people at a time, 40 people, 50 people max. Even after church, that’s not even half of where we used to be,” he said.
Cofer said the businesses are not in the clear and thinks there’s a lot more that will have to be worked through.
“It’s like a bomb has gone off, especially in our industry. I mean, the poor bars are still not opening and they’re reclassifying themselves as restaurants out there,” he said. “I have no hope until there’s a vaccine [and] even after the vaccine, ‘Does it work?’ or ‘Doesn’t it work?’ ‘Will people take the vaccine, or won’t they?'”