Texas will begin the first phase of reopening its economy Friday after the expiration of the statewide stay-at-home order. Malls, movie theaters, retailers and restaurants will be allowed to reopen at 25% capacity.
The Texas Restaurant Association conducted a quick poll Wednesday with 401 restaurants and asked owners about their reopening plans.
The quick poll results, which were released Thursday afternoon, show that 47% of owners do not plan to reopen Friday, while 43% said yes.
"Tomorrow is a big day and the nation is watching," association President and CEO Emily Williams Knight said. "I think we’re going to teach the other states a lot."
Knight referred to Friday as a "soft opening" for restaurants across the state.
Some small restaurant owners told the TRA they will be watching on the sidelines the next few weeks, learning from the bigger places that plan to reopen Friday.
"For an industry that’s been gut-punched, it takes a lot to reopen, you need to rebuy supplies and it’s a struggle," said Kelsey Erickson Streufert, the vice president of government affairs and advocacy for the Texas Restaurant Association.
The second quick poll question asked owners if they didn't plan to reopen May 1, if they would reopen during Phase II, which allows 50% occupancy.
Results show 19% of those owners responded yes.
Streufert said many restaurants have "survived and not thrived" under the curbside pickup and delivery-only model.
But having the option of curbside and to-go can be helpful as restaurants plan to partially reopen, according to the association.
Some customers might be ill and should not go inside the restaurant, so delivery and takeout can be a solution, the association leaders said.
"We continue to ask the public to support your local business with takeout and delivery even after May 1. This is going to be a long process," Streufert said.
Knight and Streufert stressed that customers will feel the most comfortable dining at a restaurant that has a sense of community and safety.
"Consistency is key. We need to send one uniformed message to keep customers safe," Streufert said.
Knight and Streufert said they continue to be amazed by the resilience of the restaurant industry, that safety guidelines should be followed and that no one should be pressured to reopen before they are ready.