Texas Gov. Greg Abbott may be encouraging Texans to stay home, but the rise in the number of Texans testing positive for coronavirus hasn’t prompted him to change anything about the way the state’s restaurants operate. They are still in Phase 3, which means they can seat 100-percent of their outdoor capacity and up to 75-percent of their indoor capacity.
Still, some restaurants are taking their own steps either to reduce capacity or to return to-go only service. After closing June 12 when an employee tested positive, Relish Restaurant & Bar in River Oaks reopened as to-go only on June 23.
“After testing all of our employees and deep sanitizing our dining and kitchen spaces, we believe our curbside offering will allow us to serve our guests in the safest environment possible as Houston continues to see a rise in Covid-19 cases,” the restaurant said in a statement.
Nobie’s owners Sara and Martin Stayer came to the same conclusion after temporarily closing their Montrose restaurant. For now, both Nobie’s and The Toasted Cocount, its tiki-inspired sibling, are to-go only. “This decision was also made for what we believe is our social responsibility to mitigate the spread of the virus in efforts to preserve what will be left of our hospitality industry when everyone can safely return to dine-in,” they write on social media.
Of course, concerns about COVID-19 aren’t the only reasons prompting a switch back to to-go. Federal Grill, the restaurant that reopened before being legally allowed to, has opted to temporarily end dine-in service rather than enforce Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo’s order requiring the wearing of masks.
“We are simply not willing to police others’ choices - nor do we want to risk hurting anyone,” owner Matt Brice said in a statement.
Whatever their reasons, these restaurant may be the start of a trend away from dine-in service, but for now they are outliers. Most restaurants remain open for dine-in, and, assuming they’re following state-mandated guidelines regarding social distancing and the use of personal protective equipment, Houstonians should use their intelligence guided by their experience to determine their comfort level dining at restaurants.
Restaurants that have reopened this week after temporary closures
Brennan’s of Houston: Closed June 18. Reopened June 25.
Coltivare: Closed June 17. Reopened June 21 (reservations required).
Dish Society Memorial Green: Closed June 16. Reopened June 18.
El Topo: Closed June 19. Reopened June 24 (to-go only).
Kata Robata: Closed June 16. Reopened June 27 (to-go only).
MAD: Closed June 17. Reopened June 23.
Melange Creperie: Closed June 24. Reopened June 26.
The Patio at The Pit Room: Closed June 24. Reopened June 26.
Relish Restaurant & Bar: Closed June 12. Reopened June 23 (to-go only).
Riel: Closed June 18. Reopened June 29 (to-go only).
Rosie Cannonball: Closed June 16. Reopened June 25 (to-go only).
Savoir: Closed June 20. Reopened June 25.
Siphon Coffee: Closed June 18. Reopened June 26 (to-go only).
Uchi: Closed June 23. Reopened June 25 (to-go only).
Verdine: Closed June 21. Reopened June 25 (to-go only).
Bars and restaurants that have announced a closure this week
a'Bouzy temporarily closed on June 27 after an employee tested positive. The champagne-fueled restaurant will reopen after its staff has undergone testing and the space has been cleaned.
Better Luck Tomorrow has temporarily closed as of June 24 after one its employees tested positive. The acclaimed Heights bar will reopen next week after all employees have been tested and completed " a very rigorous screening process determined by a third-party health provider," according to a post on Instagram.
Cult burger favorite burger-chan has temporarily closed on June 24 after one of its employees tested positive. The restaurant will announce a reopening date after its other employees have been tested for the virus.
Korean restaurant Dak & Bop temporarily closed on June 23 after an employee tested positive. The restaurant will announce a reopening date after it undergoes a professional deep cleaning and follows other CDC guidelines.
Eight Row Flint temporarily closed on June 24 after two staff members tested positive for coronavirus. The popular Heights bar will set a reopening day after all of its employees have been tested (at company expense) and receive their results.
Eunice temporarily closed on June 27 after an employee tested positive. The Creole restaurant will undergo a cleaning by a third part, and all employees will be tested before it reopens.
Both locations of Good Dog Houston temporarily closed on June 26 after an employee tested positive. The hot dog restaurants will reopen after all staff members have been tested.
Hughie’s W. 18th temporarily closed on June 24 after a staff member tested positive. The Vietnamese-Texan restaurant will announce a reopening date after it receives test results for its other employees.
Kokoro in Bravery Chef Hall closed June 25 after an employee tested positive. The sushi concept will reopen after its staff has tested negative and the space undergoes a deep cleaning.
All four locations of Local Foods temporarily closed on June 26 after an employee at the Heights location and a vendor's delivery driver tested positive. The restaurants will reopen after cleaning and testing.
Monkey’s Tail temporarily closed on June 24 after an employee tested positive. The northside bar and restaurant will set a reopening date once its staff has been tested and the space has undergone a deep cleaning.
Verandah Progressive Indian Restaurant closed on June 23 after an employee tested positive. It expects to reopen on June 25 after it undergoes additional sanitizing.