NACOGDOCHES, Texas (KTRE) - More people are eating out, but not enough says the president and CEO of Texas Restaurant Association Dr. Emily William Knight.
“As we stepped into July we have 600,000 employees that are still on the sidelines,” Knight said during the Nacogdoches Chamber of Commerce weekly stakeholders conference call. “We’ve lost about 15% of our restaurants.”
Dr. Knight said she spoke Tuesday morning with the Governor’s Strike Force, in an attempt to relax rules and regulations on restaurants.
“We’re trying to get us to 75% capacity, but most importantly, it’s that social distancing inside restaurants that have become very challenged.”
Restaurant owner Cassandra Stokes tuned into the conference call.
"It is an incredibly difficult time for us," Stokes shared.
Smaller dining rooms just can't benefit from increased occupancy rates.
Just so many tables can be placed out of use.
"So it doesn't matter, 75% or anything above that, we're stuck at 50%," said Stokes.
Decreased customer revenue with bills to pay concerns Stokes and other restaurant owners. They're frustrated over a federal stalemate on another round of funding packages.
"They're trying to pass it, you have to be down 50% over the first or second quarter of the prior year. That's still going to put me out of business, unfortunately," said Stokes.
"I knew 50% was far too high," said Knight. Her hunch, she says, was confirmed by a recent survey of Texas restaurant owners on their losses since March.
Knight tells restaurant owners a bill introduced Friday afternoon in Congress could lower the threshold to 20 to 30 percent.
So, the wait continues. Carry outs, deliveries, no touch ordering, and sanitation may relieve customer’s anxieties, but alone is not enough to keep one of America’s largest form of entertainment operational.