FORT WORTH, Texas - Some North Texas restaurants are among the non-essential businesses preparing to partially reopen Friday.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott's statewide stay-at-home order expires Thursday at midnight, and then phase one of his executive order to partially reopen some Texas businesses goes into effect.
Restaurants will be seating customers in their dining rooms in a limited capacity for the first time since it was banned six weeks ago.
Business owners warn that it's a slow start, with fewer people inside and more safety precautions in place.
Charles Flach, owner of the Virgin Olive Oiler in Fort Worth, is busy cleaning his store from top to bottom after being closed to the public since Gov. Abbott's statewide order mostly shut down non-essential businesses on March 21.
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“Every one of these tanks has been removed. Everything has been sanitized. We’ve been working doggedly on it all week long,” he said.
He’s one of many businesses owners preparing to reopen under the governor's new reduced capacity guidelines.
"Twenty-five percent isn’t going to keep a restaurant afloat, but it’ll help us out a lot,” he said.
After having to furlough all five of his employees, Flach hopes business bounces back soon, so he can rehire them.
“We’ll have these little cloth masks for any customers that might want to come in,” he said. “If we have a good turnout with customers coming in, we’ll go back to our normal business hours relatively quickly.”
A few blocks away, Buffalo Bros. will also be providing masks, gloves, and hand sanitizer upon entry, and will only be allowing in 40 customers at a time.
Owner John Bonnell said he’ll only seat customers on one side of the restaurant, keeping tables at least eight feet apart, and bar stools in groups of two.
“All of our menus will be paper one time use only, we’re not going to be wiping down and reusing menus. These will be one time,” Bonnell said.
Condiment bottles and salt shakers will be replaced with disposable packets.
And the other side of the restaurant will be standing room only where customers will be asked to practice social distancing.
“In a way, I’m anxious to get back, but I’m also cautious. I don’t want to go too fast,” he added.
Bonnell is one of thousands of restaurant owners who’ve been asked to keep the Texas Restaurant Association Promise, to follow sanitary guidelines and distancing recommendations to keep guests safe.
The bulk of his table and chairs will stay packed away until the day he can fully reopen.
“If you think you’re going to go to a sports bar, and have that crowded, fun, amplified feeling, we are not there yet. We are just getting started at the very first phase and we're taking every precaution we can,” Bonnell said.
The city of Fort Worth is launching its “Y’all Get Ready” campaign on Friday, which provides businesses with a set of guidelines to consider when re-opening.
It can be found on the city's website.