FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – The new restrictions that come with the emergency coronavirus declaration are forcing small businesses to either scale back or stop operations all together.

For local restaurants that means dining rooms are closed.

One North Texas chef is speaking out about how he is coping with the changes, and trying to keep employees on the payroll.

“Fire ‘um up. Back in business. Doing takeout only today,” said Chef Michael Thomson as he turned the lights on at Michaels Cuisine restaurant — just as he has everyday for 28 years.

But looking at his empty dining room, he knows it’s different. “I haven’t had a whole lot of sleep. But you got to have faith. Got to get through this. I’ve got a lot of people who rely on us,” Thomson said.

Chef M.T. has weathered many storms before — like September 11th and the great recession — but he’s never seen anything quite like this. “I’m very concerned. I’m concerned for my family here. All my employees here. The future. But it’s really the unknown, that is the toughest part.”

Thomson is not just a small business owner he is part of the fabric of Fort Worth.

CBS 11 News has interviewed him as he fed golfers at the Colonial golf tournament. He been a celebrity chef at Texas Christian University (TCU) football games and Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price held her last election watch party at Michael’s Cuisine.

Ultimately Thomson believes his loyal customers will respond and help him and other local small businesses survive.”I have no interest in making any profit on anything. I just want to break even and give my employees a  chance to get through this,” he said.

For now, Thomson is focusing on getting creative with the to-go menu.

He’s taking it one day at a time, and has an upbeat message for his customers. “Stay together. Have faith, and believe that it’s going to be better. And hopefully remember us in the meantime.”

With some grocery store shelves nearly empty, Thomson thinks restaurants can help fill the food need for the public.

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