Like many business owners across the country, those in Arlington are feeling the impact of the coronavirus pandemic as it slows business down, or in some cases, temporarily closes doors.
Some have stayed open with limited services but for those located near the city’s biggest attractions, business isn’t what it used to be.
Jennifer Hwang is the manager of New Yorker Pizza Pasta. The restaurant in the Six Flags Village has been opened for about 15 years and was taken under new management by Hwang’s family about five years ago.
“We have Six Flags, Hurricane Harbor, AT&T Stadium, the Texas Rangers Ball Park all around us,” she said. “Before, we definitely had events going on around us literally every other weekend, especially during the summer and fall.”
However, those places are temporarily closed to the public meaning they’re not bringing in sales tax revenue at the time. In late April, the city of Arlington announced a projected overall revenue shortfall of nearly $20 million.
Arlington depends on sales taxes more than many other cities, with sales taxes accounting for about 20% of the city’s $500 million yearly budget. Though with many events postponed and not canceled, no information was readily available Friday on the projected financial impact on tourism in Arlington, specifically.
When Brandon Hurtado opened up his barbeque restaurant on E. Front Street earlier this year, he had high hopes.
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“We picked downtown Arlington and Urban Union specifically because of the close vicinity to the local tourism market with Globe Life Field, AT&T Stadium being nearby,” Hurtado. “Our opening day, February 22, we had 175 people in line with a three-hour long wait. That changed drastically once the pandemic hit.”
Like other business owners, Hurtado said it’s hard to tell what’s next.
“The virus has affected much more than people just wanting to dine in. The beef market is significantly impacted right now, so barbecue restaurants are holding on by a thread to stay open, to pay our employees, to not change our pricing and up-charge our customers. We are at a point where we may not even have brisket next week,” he said.
They’re asking people to continue supporting local if they can.
“If you don’t feel like it’s safe to dine in, you can still do curbside pick up. We offer delivery. Lots of other places are doing the same. Share people’s posts on social media. Just try and create visibility so local businesses, mom and pop places able to stay afloat,” Hurtado said. “Support local if you can. It can be the difference of your favorite restaurant being there tomorrow or not.”
As for Hwang, she said she’s grateful for the continued business from long-time customers.
“We have customers that have seen their baby grow eating here. We have a couple that went on their first date here. They’re married now and still stop by,” she said. “We’re not going to try and be all negative about it and say oh, because business is slow – we’re not going to make it. We’re going to keep on going until we’re allowed to go to.”
In late April, the Greater Arlington Chamber of Commerce surveyed 127 businesses in the Greater Arlington area. According to that survey, 88% responded the pandemic made a negative impact on their business.
Britton Cunningham Merritt with the Chamber told NBC 5 Friday, they were in daily communication with the Arlington Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB) and the city of Arlington.
“The Chamber’s primary role is to collect feedback from businesses and make sure it is heard by City, County and State government. And conversely, to make sure that our members are aware of all the resources made available to them by the city, county, state and federal government,” Cunningham Merritt said in an email. “We are a city that works together to succeed and we have full confidence in our elected officials and government leaders.”
Decima Mullen CVB with the Arlington CVB said they have been actively working since the beginning of the pandemic to make sure businesses felt supported.
“Support of our local businesses has been a major priority for us. Especially in Arlington, he tourism and hospitality industry is a tight-knit family, and we immediately went to work creating messaging that allowed our partners and attractions to share important news with us that would be beneficial for our local community to have...everything from who was still in operation, to who was offering carryout and delivery/pickup...to present day as we update the health and cleanliness procedures of each individual entity/partner and spread the word about openings and re-openings in our city,” Mullen said in an email.