TARRANT COUNTY, Texas — The pandemic took out a lot of businesses, especially small restaurants, when COVID-19 forced many customers to stay away.
Some of those same challenged businesses are relieved to still be in business today. Among them is Rose Badillo, who owns and operates M&O Grill Station with her husband.
"As a small business, we're still here," said Badillo.
When you walk into M&O Station Grill at the corner of Whitmore and Carroll Streets in Fort Worth, you take a step back in time. When you look around it is safe to say it's exactly what "being back in business" looks like after surviving the pandemic.
The pandemic forced many changes they did not plan for as restaurant owners.
"I had to, of course, let go of half of my staff and even the staff that I kept wasn't there for 35, 40 hours a week, because I was very limited on the hours that I could provide," said Badillo, "I was very fortunate. Once things did start to stable off that we were able to kind of bring a lot of our employees back."
But, Badillo and her family love nothing more than making customers happy at their restaurant.
Her husband, Danny, has almost 40 years of experience in the food industry business.
"We make all our homemade dressings, all our produce is fresh every day, Just like your mom or your grandma used to make you a homemade beef burger at home," Rose Badillo.
M&O Station Grill is a retro diner located in the city's foundry district that offers a nostalgic eating experience. When the pandemic hit, so did the rules set by Tarrant County officials under a COVID declaration. It forced many mom & pop businesses to do whatever it took to keep customers.
"They would have to pay online," Badillo said. "We would curbside take their food out to the car. A lot of that which barely kept ourselves afloat."
They stayed afloat and even today the plexiglass is still up at M&Os. But, there's no threat of a shutdown because of COVID.
That's because new Tarrant County Judge Tim O'Hare just rescinded the COVID Declaration.
"So, it's largely symbolic, but it's also been three years," said Judge Tim O'Hare, "COVID is something it looks like we're going to have to live with. We're not telling people that it's not serious. We're not telling people to blow it off. But what we are saying is Tarrant County is open for business."
O'Hare says his ruling won't impact any funding or health programs in Tarrant County. He encourages Tarrant County residents concerned about their health to follow the direction of their health care provider and family doctor.
O'Hare has decided to leave mask stations in place in county buildings as a courtesy to the public.
The stations contain free face masks and hand sanitizer.
Badillo said she hopes to attract even more new customers to their restaurant for an old-fashioned eating experience.
"And learn about some history while you're here dining with us," said Badillo.
The COVID Declaration rescinded by O'Hare had been in place since 2020, established by former Tarrant County Commission Judge B. Glenn Whitley.