Houston restaurant owners worried about surviving COVID-19 restrictions

Dining in at restaurants in Houston will no longer be an option starting at 8 a.m. Tuesday.

On Monday, city officials ordered all bars and clubs to shut down, and restaurants to abide by these new limitations in order to mitigate the spread of the COVID-19.

Ken Bridge and his business partners had been preparing for the day authorities ordered restaurants to close, but he didn’t expect the announcement to happen so soon.

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“This is going to close a lot of restaurants down. And I don’t mean temporarily, I mean permanently. We could very well be one of those that don’t survive these. This is a very low margin business. We don’t have a shoebox filled with cash. A day or a week can certainly change the course of any restaurant, in any city,” said Bridge.

Bridge owns six restaurants and bars in the Houston area including Ritual, Pink’s Pizza, Blackbird Izakaya and Ready Room.

Since last week, Bridge said restaurants across the city have lost 50 to 80% off sales with the concept of social distancing becoming the new norm.

Huge losses to that extent mean a trickle-down effect to significant cut-backs to staff, potential lay-offs and even a trickle-up effect.

“This is going to take everyone to figure out solutions for this. This could trickle down to lenders, landlords, all the way up to the fed level. Everyone’s going to have to come together to figure out solutions for this, so we can get through this together,” Bridge said.

As restaurants across Houston join a growing number of other cities across the US to transition to take-out and delivery only, Bridge said he’s hoping the industry will survive this change.  

“I personally absolutely think it’s the right decision. This is unprecedented. We haven’t gone through anything like this before. If you take out the emotions, the feelings and all that, historically, this is absolutely the right thing to do. It’s what we have to do to stop the spread,” Bridge said.