Hard-Hit Restaurant Industry Calling for More Help

Texas Restaurant Association predicts more business closures

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In a call with journalists on Thursday, the Texas Restaurant Association offered a dire prediction for the industry - saying as many as 30% of Texas restaurants face permanent closure because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The TRA estimates approximately 12% of its members have either closed or indicated they would not reopen after coronavirus concerns banned customers from dining in at restaurants and visiting bars.

This Friday, bars will be allowed to open at 25% capacity. Restaurants capacity will be bumped up to 50% from 25%.

Thursday, TRA offered an eight-point plan to assist the struggling industry.

Among the key points, the TRA called on the state to create a $390 million Foodservice Industry Recovery Fund, using federal CARES Act dollars. The fund would provide grants to restaurants that lost at least 50% of revenue due to COVID-19.

“We think it’s a very reasonable ask considering this is one of the largest industries in Texas, both in terms of employment and sales and tax revenue, and was probably the hardest hit,” said Kelsey Erickson Streufert, Vice President of Government Relations and Advocacy for the Texas Restaurant Association.

The TRA also spelled out other measures, including an eviction ban for restaurants, expanding alcohol-to-go sales waivers and providing other tax relief measures.

Anna Tauzin, Chief Revenue and Innovation Officer, said Texas should consider limits to how much third-party delivery services can charge restaurants.

“Some third-party delivery companies charge 30% or more for commission fees. We’ve actually seen it as high as 35% here in Texas,” said Tauzin.

Tauzin said the rates can depend on when a restaurant began working with a food delivery service but said COVID-19 has left some in the industry desperate for business.

“People who have been grandfathered, typically have a better commission rate something in the range of 17 to 18%, which we think is a little more reasonable. But 30 to 35%, you’re no longer making money at that point,” Tauzin explained.

It’s unclear yet if the governor’s office or legislature would take up any of the measures suggested by the TRA.

*Map locations are approximate, central locations for the city and are not meant to indicate where actual infected people live.

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