After the pandemic forced many people to alter their traditional Halloween plans or put some completely on hold last year, businesses are preparing for crowd sizes this weekend to be comparable to holidays pre-pandemic.
Emil Bragdon, the owner of Reservoir in Fort Worth, said Halloween is typically a busy day for all of his restaurants. Last Halloween was the exception.
“I don’t think it’s going to be busier [this year] and I don’t think it’s going to be any slower, but I think it’s going to be just as busy like it was in the past,” Bragdon said. “We’ve been busy. People have been eager to go out, get out. Not that the virus is not there, but people are wanting to live life a little bit.”
Most of Bragdon’s restaurants are getting back on track and doing better than they were before the COVID-19 pandemic, he said. While demand is there, he noted labor and the supply chain are two areas business owners like him still find challenging.
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“I can honestly say I’m not 100% proud of the service we give at times, but we are doing the best we can. That’s not just me saying that. That’s almost every restaurant and bar,” he said. “It makes me sick that we can’t offer that 100% service where I can stand behind, but we are literally hanging on with all the managers, all the owners. We’re sitting here working trying to make sure the guest experience is a good one. It’s been tough.”
If people choose to go out this weekend, Melissa Stewart with the Texas Restaurant Association said it’s recommended to check with businesses first. Some places may operate on adjusted hours or require reservations.
“But the other thing is, just like you notice in the grocery store, there’s not always everything available from our supplier,” Stewart said. “So, your favorite enchilada may not be there or that particular cut of beef. So, have a little bit of flexibility. Just remember, you’re going out to have a good time and we’re there to serve you.”
Flexibility and patience are two things Bragdon said all owners are asking of their customers, holiday or not. Despite the challenges, he said he was grateful to remain open after uncertainty in 2020.
“Now that we’re over that big hump, I feel very positive about the future. I feel very good about where we’re heading,” he said.