Some Houston business owners split on how to move forward during COVID-19 pandemic

As the state prepares to reopen Friday, some Houston-area business owners are split on their plans moving forward.

Starting Friday, retailers, restaurants, places of worship, museums, libraries and movie theaters can reopen to 25% capacity, but businesses like gyms, salons, barbershops and bars have to wait another two weeks.

One business owner in The Woodlands said can’t wait that long to reopen, while others feel like they need more time to prepare.
"I’ve had enough. April 30th -- we’re opening. 8 am to 10 pm," said Henry Walker.

Walker is the owner of Legacy Barbell gym in The Woodlands. He posted a video on the gym’s Facebook page this week, announcing plans to reopen Thursday despite the Governor Greg Abbott's orders that gyms should remain closed till at least mid-May.

"I've worked my ass off. My team has worked their ass off for this place. None of us are going to lose our livelihoods, our businesses, or our homes," Walker said. 

Walker goes on to say in the video that changes and modified hours will be announced later but made it clear in his post that his business did not need permission to open.

However, Governor Abbott did grant permission to retailers and restaurants to reopen to 25% capacity, But not everyone feels ready.       

"My plan for Friday is just business as usual – which is not opening and having curbside pick up," said Chloe Dao. 

Dao is a local high-fashion designer who rose to fame after winning Project Runway’s second season. Dao said she hasn’t had a chance to discuss with her staff, if they’re comfortable with reopening the Rice Village boutique.

"It was just too soon for us and we’re so busy still doing donation masks and selling masks at the same time. 

"We would like to contact some of our very close clientele and say, 'would you even go shopping?' What is the risk factor of even opening, and are they even going to come?" Dao said. 

It’s a similar sentiment for Riana Sherman, the catering manager at The Bagel Shop Bakery on Hillcroft.

Sherman said the family-owned business will be sticking to pickups and deliveries for now, even though they nearly hit a breaking point during the stay-at-home order.           

"We're down 90% in sales because catering is such a big part of what we do. We do a lot of corporate and that's obviously been shot for a while.

"It's a very selfless decision for us because we really do need to open. But we really need to do what's right for our for our clientele. And for our staff and for everybody that works here for our team. We just decided for the health and safety of our clients and putting them first. We're just going to put it off a little bit," Sherman said. 

Sherman said The Bagel Shop Bakery employs roughly 30-50 employees. 

Both Dao and Sherman said they will be making sure their employees wear masks while working, but have not decided what the rules will be for their customers.

Neither have a set date for the reopening of their stores. Dao said she's aiming for mid-May, but adds that she’ll continue ironing out the details with her staff.