Central Texas restaurants prepared for capacity reductions

Central Texas restaurants are being forced to deal with new restrictions placed on them to help curtail the spread of COVID-19.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott announced in an executive order June 26 restaurants will be required to limit themselves to 50% capacity. Previously, they were allowed to open to 75% capacity.

But, for many local restaurants like La Fiesta in Waco, the decision does not make much of a difference in how they operate.

“For us, we never really went past 50% or really past 25% when you keep your tables apart while social distancing,” La Fiesta owner Linsey Castillo said.

Jake Black, owner of Jake’s Texas Tea House, said his restaurant is in a similar situation. In order to properly enforce social distancing rules, Black has been forced to close every other table.

As a result, his restaurant was operating at 50% capacity even before the governor’s new order.

“When you’re 150 seats or less, and you can only seat every other table, 75 and 50 doesn’t make a difference,” Black said.

This is the fifth time Texas has changed its rules regarding restaurants since the governor first issued stay-at-home orders in March.

“It’s been a giant roller coaster,” Castillo said. “One day, you think it’s one direction and you set up to run another one, and the all of the sudden the switch flips.”

While they can currently still operate at 50% capacity, some smaller restaurants would be in trouble if the state were to limit capacity to 25%.

Jake’s was one of the last restaurants in Waco to re-open. They did not open their doors until the state expanded maximum capacity to 50%.

If the state drops the limit to 25%, they may have to shut their doors once again.

“If we drop to 25% it would be better to close. It’s a business decision. It’s cheaper to close and not have any payroll,” Black said.

They say they hope Texas will be able to recover, but right now they need your business.

“I wish people would continue to support their local people, because at this time the way it is, the local guy has got everything hanging out,” Black said.

Under the order, bars and restaurants with a 51% alcohol license are required to shut down to patrons.

—KXXV