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Monday, April 27, 2020

San Antonio Chefs Have Mixed Feelings About Gov. Abbott’s Plan to Reopen Dine-In Restaurants

Posted By on Mon, Apr 27, 2020 at 4:47 PM

click to enlarge A line out of the door at West-side star The Jerk Shack was a pre-COVID fixture. - INSTAGRAM / THEJERKSHACKSATX
  • Instagram / thejerkshacksatx
  • A line out of the door at West-side star The Jerk Shack was a pre-COVID fixture.
The plans Gov. Greg Abbott laid out in a Monday afternoon press conference to reopen the Texas economy left a sour taste in local chefs' mouths.

Interviews with a half dozen Alamo City restaurant owners this afternoon revealed a range of mixed feelings about the plan to allow businesses to resume operations as early as Friday.



”I don’t want to put my staff or guests at risk, to be guinea pigs," said Rebel Mariposa, chef-owner of La Botanica on the St. Mary’s Strip.

Even before Abbott's announcement, Mariposa was considering closing for a two-week hiatus to avoid a projected surge in COVID-19 cases. After today's announcement, that possibility has grown in appeal. "If testing were more readily available in our area, I’d feel differently."

“I know a lot of businesses are hurting, but the main concern is always safety before money," said Tatu Herrera, owner of Folklores Coffee House. "We’re training our staff in new service implementations now, in preparation of re-opening, and making internal changes to ensure our guests feel comfortable. … We want our customers to know we’re doing our part.”

click to enlarge Owners Tatu and Emilie Herrera have been providing the elderly with food since the shutdown of their Eastside shop. - INSTAGRAM / FOLKLORES_COFFEE_HOUSE
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  • Owners Tatu and Emilie Herrera have been providing the elderly with food since the shutdown of their Eastside shop.
While restaurants will be allowed to offer dine-in service starting Friday, their occupancy rate is capped at 25 percent, Abbot said in a livestreamed press conference today. "This is permission to open, not a requirement," he added.

Though Abbott mentioned the importance of entrepreneurs to the Texas economy, other businesses such as hair and nail salons, barbershops, bars and gyms remain unable to reopen.

"[There are] two sides to this coin," said chef Stefan Bowers of PlayLand Pizza, Battalion and Rebelle at the St. Anthony Hotel.

"First is that those who received the [federal job guarantee] loan should be okay through the month of June ... [but] businesses that didn’t receive assistance are drowning. There’s really no correct answer. Everyone is at a different depth."

So many restaurants, so little time. Find out the latest San Antonio dining news with our Flavor Friday Newsletter.

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