By Brooke Rogers

DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – The pit at Terry Black’s Barbecue in Deep Ellum is brimming with brisket, now cooked to order for 75% indoor capacity. And the diners are showing up.

“Crowds have definitely started to pick up,” said co-owner Christina Black. “This weekend was a good weekend for us. We were busy. Lines to the door.”

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Black is optimistic that the increased capacity sends a message to customers at a time when the restaurant industry is devastated. The Texas Restaurant Association estimates that 15% of restaurants have closed since the coronavirus shutdowns began.

“We’re hoping that, with the 75%, it shows that the industry has really worked hard to keep everybody safe and encourage people to come out more,” she said.

(credit: CBS 11 News)

It’s the second time restaurants have been able to go to 75% capacity. The first time was back in June, but it was short-lived after COVID-19 cases spiked. Black said the fluctuating capacities were most difficult when it came to staffing.

“When you can have more customers in, we need more employees, and then when they drop that down, we don’t need as many employees. So that’s been the most challenging thing,” she said.

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And even though they could now welcome around 260 guests, they won’t. Black said capacity restrictions may have been eased, but their safety measures won’t.

“We want them to know that we are taking every precaution that we can to make them feel comfortable and safe. So we like to keep the distance.”

Per the Governor’s orders, restaurants in Laredo, the Rio Grande Valley, and Victoria must remain at 50% capacity until the percentage of COVID-19 hospitalizations falls.

But for now, many are happy to a return to normalcy; simply grabbing a bite to eat away from home.

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“I’m excited about restaurants opening back up, because I’m a restaurant person,” said customer Marlyne Roundtree.