DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Phase one of reopening Texas during the COVID-19 pandemic started Friday with restaurants welcoming back dine-in customers.
While it’s a day so many North Texans have waited for, the response didn’t necessarily reflect that.
Restaurants are allowed to serve dine-in customers for the first time in more than a month, but CBS 11 found a lot of restaurants and customers reluctant to embrace this slow return to normal.
After rearranging his dining area and bringing back more employees, Chuck Cole, the owner of The Corner Market on Greenville Avenue, hoped he’d see more customers Friday.
“People can eat inside. We have a few tables inside,” said Cole. “People can eat outside. We put the tables 10 to 12 feet apart.”
Cole said his business has been struggling since the public health emergency crippled the restaurant industry.
Most of his customers still preferred to sit outside.
“I think it’s so new just starting out today, I think it will slowly start opening back up,” said customer Emily Duncan. “I think people will be willing to come out.”
A significant number of restaurants chose to provide only take out or remain closed.
Brandon Luke owns Smithy on Henderson.
He says the state’s limit on customers to 25% capacity is too strict to be profitable.
“Bottom line, 25% doesn’t make sense from a business standpoint to be open and potentially put our staff into a position to come off unemployment,” Luke said.
The Rustic used a counter to keep its crowd legally below the limit as it welcomed dine in customers for the first time in weeks.
Most of the tables inside have been removed and no parties of more than six are seated.
Even with fewer customers, General Manager Bryan Harris said returning to normal is as important as making money.
“It feels good to have the opportunity, but even more so, it’s not about the financial right now,” he said. “It’s really about being a spot in Dallas that everyone expects.”