KATY MAGAZINE NEWS
May 1, 2020
By Natalie Cook Clark
Today is the day. Texas Governor Greg Abbott will allow restaurants to open for dine-in service as long as they meet a long list of guidelines issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Local restaurant owners worked to meet the new guidelines and prepared to welcome guests. However, some are opting to open Monday as concerns about reopening continue to be debated.
Texas Borders Bar & Grill gets ready to ensure social distancing when welcoming guests.
Authorities Will Watch for Compliance and Common Sense
“The Fire Marshal sets capacity as part of their occupancy permits,” says Major Chad Norvell with Fort Bend County Sheriff’s Office. “Typically, it is based on how many can stand in the given square footage.”
“I know some people are eager to get out again and enjoy a meal,” says Jeff McShan with Harris County Constable Ted Heap’s Office, Precinct 5. “We just want people to continue to practice social distancing, wash hands, and use common sense.”
Local Restaurants Are Ready
“This has been a roller coaster ride that is unprecedented,” says Kevin Wann, co-owner of Texas Borders Bar & Grill. “It’s an amazing feeling. Kellie and I are beyond excited. It’s our life and what we live for.”
Katy’s Texas Borders Bar & Grill is one of many local restaurants that has been anxiously awaiting today’s reopening. They have been working to meet all guidelines laid out by the Governor’s report.
“Over the last six weeks, we have been deep cleaning, organizing, and training,” says Wann. “Since Governor Abbott announced we could open this Friday, we have been in overdrive sanitizing floors, chairs, tables, bar, bar patio, everything.”
What Will 25% Look Like?
“We normally deal with restaurants and businesses being full or over capacity,” says Mark Flathouse, Fort Bend County Fire Marshal Emergency Management Coordinator. “We’ve had to recalculate, and 25% is now at capacity and see what that would look like.”
Flathouse sent an official message out to local businesses stating the guidelines that they require, and what law enforcement will be enforcing.
“Everyone I’ve spoken to wants to do what’s right,” says Flathouse. “If they adhere to this then they will be back in business.”
Table seating shall be limited to every other table at a minimum.
Table shall be 6-10 feet apart
No groups of more than 6 people
Patio areas or gated areas will also adhere to the same spacing and seating
Servers shall wear a mask at all times while on duty.
Businesses shall continue to monitor employees for any signs and/or symptoms of COVID-19 and have a system in place to protect sick from working (example: temperature taking)
Waiting area need to address the six feet separation, and limit the waiting areas to follow the 25% capacity rule.
All areas will need to be cleared and kept up during open operations.
“If we get calls about overcrowding or any guidelines not being followed, patrol officers will first use the chance to educate,” says Flathouse. “They can close the business until changes have been made and if any place continues to violate guidelines there can be communication started with the District Attorney’s office.”
Some Katy restaurants are opting to wait, and not reopen their dining rooms today.
“As much as we want to open the dining room this Friday we’ve decided to wait until Monday, May 4th to make it official,” says Orleans Seafood Kitchen. “There are several safety measures we want in place first to ensure you and our team members are protected.”
Sushi Hana Japanese Kitchen in Katy will open today, but warns customers of a potentially long wait to dine inside their restaurant.
“We will only have about 6 tables,” Sushi Hana posted on Facebook. “To be fair to every customer, we are not taking reservations at this time. If waiting is not an option for you, please consider ordering food-to-go.”
The Local Bar, part of The Local Table shared this message:
Katy Residents Debate Going Out
Katy residents have taken to social media to passionately debate the issue of restaurants opening today.
“Open up,” says Eddie Galvez. “Just don’t go around hugging people. We can’t live in fear, there is always many things out there that can potentially hurt you. Take precautions.”
“I’m going to hang out at home a bit longer and see how things go out there,” says Sherry Dutiel. “Many restaurants are not opening their dining rooms and continuing with take-out and curbside service which is smart and shows they truly care about their employees as well.”
Flathouse urges residents to call local restaurants before going out. “See if they are open and if you can make a reservation or get on a list before going,” says Flathouse.
“Ask them what they are doing to adhere to the guidelines,” says Flathouse. “What are they doing to keep their customers and employees safe?”
These guidelines will hopefully be temporary. Officials will monitor COVID-19 data. Based on findings after a two-week period, restrictions could continue to be lifted.
To see Governor Abbott’s Report to Open Texas, visit the website.
Follow Katy Magazine Foodies for more restaurant announcements.