DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) — When the first customer in weeks took a seat on his patio, Julian Rodarte felt butterflies.
“Oh my gosh, people are coming, people are coming,” he said. “I wanted to cry.”
The wave of emotion hit him repeatedly as more tables were filled.
During Friday’s lunch alone, his restaurant, Beto and Son, in Dallas’ Trinity Groves area did as much business as it has in an entire day throughout the month of April offering only take out.
“We were just itching to get out,” said Scott Talbot, who came with his wife for dinner.
They live down the street and were happy not to have to cook.
“I feel like they are taking every precaution needed,” said Susan Talbot, noting the waiters in masks.
The restaurant’s patio can usually hold 100 tables. Friday, there were only 20.
During dinner, nearly all stayed busy.
“It feels really good to know on our first night open people are flocking back,” said Rodarte.
It’s a drastic change from the devastation Rodarte recalls feeling in March.
“It was the hardest day of my life. Like, by far, hardest day of my life,” he said of having to close his doors and lay off his staff.
He does worry about the virus, but says it’s not the only threat his employees face.
“I have a bigger fear of employees that had come to me and said, ‘I’m struggling, I’m going to lose my house,'” he said. “I think this is giving them a better option.”
Safety, he says, has become more important than ever.
“We probably have more hand sanitizer than we do liquor behind the bar,” he said.
He understands, as well, those who say it’s too early to re-open.
Business is a fraction of what it was before the pandemic and not nearly enough to keep the restaurant profitable.
Still, he’s grateful for the customers who are supporting him through either dine-in or to-go.