Independently Owned Restaurants Fight to Stay Open During Pandemic

As COVID-19 stretches on, Dallas-Fort Worth restaurant owners are worried about surviving

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An estimated 25 to 30% of Texas restaurants won't survive the pandemic, and the independently owned ones are the most vulnerable among them, according to the Texas Restaurant Association.

“We currently still have 600,000 people on the sidelines that have not been able to go back to work, so it’s really a crisis,” said association President and CEO Emily Williams Knight.

Restaurateur John McBride already shuttered one restaurant because of COVID-19. 

“I had an American restaurant, which I closed down soon after all this craziness started,” he said.

McBride thinks his other restaurant, El Vecino on North Buckner Boulevard in Dallas, has some advantages that are helping it stay afloat. 

“I think neighborhood restaurants have the best chance to succeed, especially those that do takeout," McBride said. "And I’m in the Mexican food business, and in Dallas, Texas, it’s the comfort food."

To continue to attract customers, Downtown Dallas Inc. is working with the city of Dallas to create more pop-up patios and outdoor spaces.

For some restaurants, it’s too late.

“Today, we probably have around 10 restaurants in downtown Dallas that have announced a permanent closure,” said Dustin Bullard, the senior vice president for Downtown Dallas Inc.

Restaurant owners are grateful for the support, and can only hope that brings people back.

“I think that’s the big question we all have — when will people feel safe enough to come out again?” McBride said.

Independent restaurateurs are eligible to apply for grants of up to $5,000 through the Texas Restaurant Relief Fund. 

Information on how to apply for financial relief is available on the Texas Restaurant Association's website.

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