North Texas restaurants open their dining rooms to customers for the first time in six weeks

Some restaurants began dishing out meals in North Texas on Friday as parts of the Texas economy were allowed to reopen after being closed for more than a month due to coronavirus.

The first phase of Gov. Greg Abbott's executive order to reopen businesses in Texas businesses went into effect Friday, allowing restaurants to seat customers in their dining rooms in a limited capacity of 25 percent.

Ol South Pancake House in Fort Worth welcomed in people for breakfast service.

“Just making sure everything we use is disposable as far as utensils, menus. We’re asking if they want to look on their phones for the menu on the website. Just trying to be creative,” said Angel Larez, General Manager.

Caitlin Northrop was impressed by the restaurant’s setup. She likes the 25 percent rule and said if there’s a wait, people were told to sit inside their car until the restaurant sent a text.

“There’s not as many people here, the tables are separated, it’s definitely a change from what normal life is,” Northrop said.

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A few miles away at Fort Worth mainstay Joe T. Garcia’s, the first day back in business was even more conservative. They’re open to just 15 percent capacity and screening guests. They’re also having people sit in their car if there’s a wait.

Longtime Joe T’s customer John Zuniga said despite the different experience, he feels it’s good for everyone.

“I know these amazing,” Zuniga said. “I’ve missed being served by them so it’s nice to be back out. Everybody’s being safe.”

At Overeasy inside the Statler Hotel in Downtown Dallas, employees returned to work wearing masks. Temperatures were checked at the entrance and tables were removed and spaced out to comply with the capacity limit.

Executive Chef Ryan Carbery said his staff had to pivot and adapt to make the reopening possible.

“We’re very excited, anxious, nervous. I want to make sure as I said before that our guests are understanding the effort that we’re putting in for their safety as well as our team members,” Chef Carbery said.

Everything is now single-use at the restaurant. For example, there are no longer salt and pepper shakers on the tables and diners are given packets to add more seasoning to their food.

“We’re just excited to open again and I think people are stir crazy so they want to come out and we want to give them a safe environment to enjoy the food in a very responsible way,” added Douglas Kwong, the vice president of marketing for the Rave Restaurant Group.

Even with precautions in place, customers had mixed reactions about returning to restaurants.

“Part of me feels like it’s a little soon but I’m also excited for businesses to get revenue again and see the city come alive,” said Pamela Goldschmidt, a customer.

“I’m not worried at all. I’ve been cooped up for the past two weeks, haven’t had my eggs scrambled right in a while if you know what I mean,” an Overeasy regular said.

At Pie 5 in Euless, tables were also spread out with decals on the ground reminding customers to do the same. Pizza was served in a box instead of on a tray, whether it’s for takeout or dine in.

Both Pie 5 and Overeasy said they had to furlough or lay off employees like many businesses. So they were happy to welcome some of their staff back.

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