Grand Opening During a Pandemic? BBB Says It's Not So Crazy

Businesses are reaping the benefits of spending habits by excited customers following quarantine boredom, urge to support local

NBCUniversal, Inc.

The pandemic has strained the economy in ways never seen before.

We've filed many reports about small to large business struggling and even closing. Yet, there are still those brave enough to open and start a new business in the midst of all this.

It might sound crazy, but experts with the Better Business Bureau Serving North and Central Texas said there are some unique opportunities out there.

“It’s different than anything that we’ve seen before,” said Phylissia Clark of the BBB. “People speculate about what happens to businesses during a recession but this isn’t your typical situation. There are a lot of factors. People are really hungry, it’s arbitrary. People are really hungry for new businesses, they're really hungry to go out there and do things.”

Clark said the timing is good right now because their research and data show an uptick in interest for restaurants.

"Now, restaurants that were having such a difficult time, really are getting a lot more traffic. We’ve interviewed a few of them and they’ve said it’s doing better a little bit," she said.

With many people leaving quarantine, Clark said customers are enjoying the summer and taking advantage of pent up desires for things they never thought they would miss.

With many people leaving quarantine, business owners say customers are enjoying the summer and taking advantage of pent up desires for things they never thought they would miss, NBC 5’s Alanna Quillen reports.

“Businesses really are reaping the benefits of people itching to get out there and do things that we’ve been taking for granted for a long time,” she said.

A new restaurant in downtown Dallas could be reaping those benefits of new spending trends by customers.

Sfereco is opening this week within the Statler Hotel, during a time when that area has been faced with protests and damage, aside from the pandemic.

The inside of the restaurant boasts a fun, Spaghetti Western film theme while the food features their own touch on Italian food, from fresh pizzas to meatballs, sandwiches and pasta. It’s something chef Ryan Carbery hopes the neighbors of downtown will enjoy.

Pizzas on display at Sfereco, new restaurant in downtown Dallas.

"Great food, great service, great people. Without our people and our team, we wouldn’t be able to offer that,” he said. “So we're just looking for the opportunity for people to give us a chance. Try our food, we work really hard at it!"

Carbery is the corporate executive chef for Refined Hospitality Concepts which manages all of the food and beverage concepts for Centurian American, which includes the Statler Hotel and the outlets there.

Sfereco is a collaboration between Carbery and RHC CEO Robert Hall. Both bring years of restaurant experience and a love for Italian cuisine from different parts of the country.

"It’s a great passion project, we love Italian food. Dallas is an interesting market for Italian. There’s wonderful staples, but we hope to put their own touch on it,” said Carbery.

Alanna Quillen NBC 5
Chef Ryan Carbery prepares a pizza from scratch at Sfereco, which opens this week within the Statler Hotel in downtown Dallas.

The restaurant will have a soft opening on Wednesday then the rest of the week makes way for dine-in customers at 75% capacity. This opening has been in the works well before the world changed, but the timing now, Carbery said, is everything.

"The pandemic obviously threw a little wrinkle into the plan,” he said. "You can't bury your head and pretend nothing is going on around you. We're very aware of the economic times we're in but at the end of the day, what we intended to do and what we set out to do is provide hospitality."

The BBB said the timing is crucial because trends are showing an urge to support local.

“People really have a place to value on local again. People want their neighborhood to thrive and people are also looking for something new and different,” said Clark. “So searching for that new and different business that just opened is a rare occasion now and a wonderful thing."

The Cookie Society in Frisco can attest to that. In April, the shop took a leap of faith and held their grand opening.

Marissa and Jeff Allen said nearly two months later, they still cannot keep cookies on their shelves.

“Since opening on April 18, we’ve received so much support from the entire DFW community. We’ve seen customers travel from all over, just to show us support and we’re truly grateful,” the couple told NBC 5.

Alanna Quillen NBC 5
Social distanced lines form outside Cookie Society in Frisco, which has seen a huge response since opening in April.

In that time period, they’ve watched lines of cookie-hungry customers form outside their business. They’ve also grown their team from 10 employees to over 20.

“We want to continue to grow,” the couple said. “We’re looking forward to becoming a staple in the community.”

Other industries the BBB says are making a comeback include retail outlets, self-care shops like nail and hair salons, internet services, construction, and dentists.

But some others like hotels and the travel industry will still take a long time to see better numbers.

“There are really some industries that are making a comeback fast and furious, and we love it. We really want to see the business community do well,” Clark said.

Clark added that in order for businesses to continue doing well, they must commit to safety during the pandemic.

“It’s great that businesses have adapted so well, taken so many protocols and really been brave and opened up their doors,” she said. “That’s what’s going to be the important part. What’s keeping people from shopping is really a confidence issue. It’s whether or not they feel safe in those environments.”

Contact Us