HOUSTON - Restaurants across the state are now preparing to reopen on Friday as part of Phase 1 of Governor Greg Abbott’s plan to open Texas. FOX 26 visited with a local restaurant to see how they are preparing to meet all of the new regulations.
Damian’s Cucina Italiana on Smith Street closed its doors six weeks ago to comply with stay at home orders. Takeout and delivery wasn’t enough to keep them afloat as they lost 90 percent of their income. Now, they eagerly await for Friday, May 1, to reopen.
“We are definitely excited, but we knew we had a lot of work ahead of us,“ says co-owner Johnny B. Mandola.
It means they have a lot of work ahead like doing away with valet service, offering limited items on a menu that can be disposed of after use and seating only 41 diners of their 165 max capacity to meet the 25 percent occupancy regulation. One of the things diners will notice when they come into any restaurant is that the tables will be free of utensils, condiments and glassware to keep things sanitary.
“All of us wearing gloves and masks and we have sanitation stations around the wall. It’ll definitely have a different atmosphere than normal, but I think that they will appreciate coming back to restaurants and being served,“ says Mandola.
The one thing the owners were looking forward to was bringing all their staff back to work, but because of the regulations, it isn’t possible.
“It kind of hurts, honestly. You know these guys have been with us for some of them for 20 years, some 30 years. I can’t imagine what they’re going through and you know the excitement of opening up was to get all these guys back, and we just can’t do it at this time, but as soon as things turn around, that’s the first thing I’m going to do is call these guys back.”
Mandola says all the extra work is worth it to reopen. Mandola also adds that staff members won’t be fired if they are uncomfortable with returning to work, and that they will continue to offer delivery service for customers who wish to stay home.