Help Houston Restaurants

Texas restaurants call on Governor Greg Abbott for coronavirus relief

Texas restaurants call on Governor Greg Abbott for coronavirus relief

Penny Quarter interior
Penny Quarter, one of Bobby Heugel's restaurants. Photo by Jenn Duncan

Restaurants across the state of Texas need help. With their dining rooms closed to slow the spread of COVID-19, revenues are down sharply.

Many establishments have laid off their hourly staff and are only using salaried employees to maintain their operations. To-go sales help keep the lights on, but it’s only a temporary solution.

Government intervention will be required to help restaurants survive. Like other industries affected by the coronavirus pandemic, restaurant owners are seeking both immediate and long term assistance to recover from their interruption in their business. Currently, the most pressing need is for the Texas Comptroller’s Office to suspend or delay tax payments that are due Friday, March 20.

“We’re going after the Comptroller’s Office hard today,” Texas Restaurant Association chief revenue and innovation officer Anna Tauzin tells CultureMap. Paying the taxes on time puts an undue burden on restaurants at a time when resources are tight. 

“You can’t shut down all restaurant commerce and demand they pay their taxes. There has to be some sort of compromise, and that’s what we’re looking for them to understand.”

Bar and restaurant owner Bobby Heugel prepared a letter that he’s encouraging people to send to Texas Governor Greg Abbott. It calls for a waiver on the mixed beverage taxes due Friday, March 20, as well as assistance with rent payments. Heugel used social media to share the letter and encourages people to send their own copy to the governor’s office.

“I really appreciate what Bobby is doing,” Tauzin says. She thinks that getting consumers involved with their efforts will help restaurants realize their goals.

Without help, the consequences could be dire. Many restaurants might not be able to come back from the losses.

“It’s not unreasonable to say 20 percent won’t reopen,” Tauzin says. “I try not to think about it too much, because it makes me cry.”