Dallas Restaurant Coping With COVID-19 Restrictions

It is not business as usual for Oddfellows in Dallas' Bishop Arts District

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When Oddfellows opened on Tuesday morning, it opened to an uncertain day.

"I knew it was inevitable," co-owner Jason Roberts said of Dallas' COVID-19 restaurant and bar restrictions and closures. "We are all in uncharted territories right now."

Roberts is also co-owner of Revelers Hall, a music venue and bar in Bishop Arts, which is closed. Oddfellows is doing only take-out orders, and has a pop-up, open-air provisions market.

"The closest thing I can relate it to is like a war," Roberts said. "That's the only other thing I can think of where industries just go offline."

In the United States, one in every 10 people works in the food and beverage business. Roberts said he had to lay off nearly 50 employees. On Tuesday, employees from his businesses and others in Dallas were in Oddfellows dining room, getting help filing for unemployment.

"I'm just a regular sushi chef," Kiet Nguyen said. "It's not that I'm very scared about the virus, it's just that everything that's happened right now is very sudden."

St. Patrick’s Day but business is different in Dallas a day after public gatherings were restricted in the city.

Tuesday was St. Patrick's Day, but the Bishop Arts District, normally bustling, was quiet.

"It's not in our nature not to gather," Roberts said. "You go to Revelers Hall and you see that, and it's medicinal."

"We're not going to sit idle and hope something's going to come and save the day, because we don't when what's going to come," Roberts said.

Roberts and his business partner have talked to city, county and state officials about getting help for restaurant and bar employees, and looking ahead to next steps.

"There's going to be a lot of people that are going to go 'Hunger Games' on you, but I think there's going to be a whole other side of the population that's going to roll up their sleeves and going to be, like, 'What can I do to help my neighbor,'" Roberts said. "I'm looking forward to getting started on that part."

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