Restaurant Closes Indoor Dining to Spread Employees Out in Effort to Keep Everyone COVID-19 Free

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Restaurants across North Texas are going the extra mile to keep customers and employees safe from COVID-19.

Some are voluntarily closing dine-in service and ensuring their workers are socially distanced.

In the heart of Bishop Arts, Trompo Mexican restaurant is spreading out in the hope of stopping the spread of COVID-19.

“For us, the biggest thing was how to make sure my staff doesn’t get sick and then I have to shut down,” said owner Luis Olvera. “That was the main thing, to try and keep the contact as minimal as possible.”

Olvera voluntarily shutdown indoor dining to give employees more space to work, out of the kitchen.

“Especially because my staff are mostly family-oriented, a little bit older, Latinos,” he said. “I decided what if I just bring [employees] out to the lobby so we can all be spaced out, so we can still talk, and we can still hang out and not have to be zombie-like and be scared about everything.”

Trompo's new contactless payment kiosks replace cashiers amid COVID-19. NBC 5 photograph.

Olvera rushed to find patio furniture at Ikea and borrowed some picnic tables from a friend.

The outdoor dining area is spread out in a courtyard Trompo shares with neighboring businesses.

They replaced cashiers in the front and back of the building with contactless payment kiosks.

Trompo also offers online ordering.

Olvera said none of his employees have fallen ill, but he knows coronavirus is real and it hits home.

“My best friend actually had his dad, his grandmother, his great-uncle, and a cousin all pass within a months’ time recently,” he said. “It was a big, big thing. You take those things and go: This is a bigger deal.”

Olvera said he’s watching developments closely, especially when it comes to a vaccine for the virus.

However, he doesn’t expect to reopen the lobby ‘before summer of this coming year.’

This restaurant with a cult-like following, from its original location in West Dallas to its home for more than a year in Bishop Arts, hopes customers understand the move.

“We want to keep our customers happy, but it’s kind of like parenting: if the parents are happy, it trickles down to the kids,” said Olvera. “If our kitchen is happy and the family’s happy, it trickles down to the customers.”

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

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