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Texas Restaurant Group Takes Reopening Plan To Task Force

As COVID-19 restaurant closures in Texas stretch into another week, the state’s restaurant operators are taking their reopening strategy to state leaders.

Emily Williams Knight of the Texas Restaurant Association says even though Texas restaurants have been able to keep operating on a take-out basis only, too many may still starve to death if they can’t reopen soon.

“So we were projecting early on that we would lose between 20% and 25% of our restaurants in Texas,” Knight says. “We have now uncovered that it wasn’t working for restaurants. So we’re projecting, unless relief comes in and unless the governor and his team are able to open up effectively, that we could lose north of 35% of restaurants across the state.”

Last week, the association unveiled a plan called the Texas Restaurant Promise, designed to safely reopen restaurant dining rooms to eager, paying customers. 

“It’s tough to bring people back when you still can’t open your doors,” Knight says. “So it’s this double whammy of a massive hit to employees — especially in Dallas-Fort Worth, but also with not knowing when you can bring them back safely and have the work for them.”

Knight says just a few months ago, before COVID-19, Texas boasted at least 50,000 establishments employing 1.4 million people, turning $70 billion in sales.

Since COVID-19, she says 350,000 industry workers have lost their jobs.

Bill Zeeble has been a full-time reporter at KERA since 1992, covering everything from medicine to the Mavericks and education to environmental issues.