Month seven could mark the end for Houston business that opened at start of pandemic

As this pandemic drags out, the crushing blow to the economy is still being felt by many small businesses. For Daiquiri Soul in north Houston, the worst month yet is this month.

It’s the story of a family who sacrificed their life savings to open their own business in mid-March. That’s also the month the pandemic hit, and the past six and a half months have been the battle of their lives to stay afloat financially.

“When things were starting to shut down, we immediately went into panic mode, because we put everything into this,” said Malcolm Louis Jackson, co-owner of Daiquiri Soul.


Malcolm and Lisa were on the verge of their grand opening on that fateful day in March when the Harris County Judge appeared on their TV.

“Shut down,” recalls Malcolm. “Hidalgo got on the news, and me and her just- She started crying, and me myself- I just put my head in my hands, and I couldn’t believe it. It was unreal.”

The grand opening event was postponed and postponed again. It still hasn’t happened.

“Emotionally, it’s been really, really rough,” said Lisa Murphy, co-owner of Daiquiri Soul.

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Forced to close their doors to in-person customers as soon as they opened, they offered delivery and curbside pickup of their chicken wings and daiquiris and got out enough income to stay afloat until they were allowed to open at 25 percent. But as months passed, they steadily fell behind on bills.

“How are we gonna pay these bills?” asked Malcolm. “How are we gonna pay the bills at home? Because we exhausted every dime we had.”

Never having the grand opening, they never got enough income to put the big store-front sign up that they had planned, making it even harder to get the new customers they’ve needed.

“We would love to raise money to be able to put that sign out on the building like everybody else has so that people can see us from the street going by,” said Lisa. “That sign runs about $6,000 to $8,000.”


They are now three-and-a-half months behind on rent in the strip mall where they opened their restaurant. Their business is scheduled to be shut down with an eviction on November 1, but they are holding out hope to get enough business to once again stay afloat.

“We’ve tried everything imaginable,” said Lisa. “We’ve applied for every loan that there is, but because we were only open two weeks, we don’t qualify for none.”
The couple couldn’t afford to pay employees, so they’ve staffed the store—just the two of them—all day, every day for much of the pandemic.

Their employees are among the more than 365,000 people who lost their jobs at the beginning stages of the pandemic, according to the Greater Houston Partnership. So far, only about 110,000 of those jobs have been recouped.