Restaurants

Several Top Houston Restaurants Commit to Reopening With 25 Percent Capacity Restriction

Inside the Brave New World of Dining Out

BY // 04.28.20

Will we or won’t we? That is the question haunting Houstonians as they, at the same time, applaud the return of restaurant dining rooms and wonder how safe dining out will be in this era of coronavirus. With Governor Greg Abbott’s announcement on Monday that all restaurants can reopen with limited capacity and certain restrictions starting this Friday, the doors are set to swing open.

Within 24 hours of the governor’s announcement, several Houston restaurants already had reopening plans in place and were ready to begin dining-room service on Friday, May 1, the designated day for reopenings.

First to the table with announcement of its reopening is State Fare Kitchen & Bar, quite the Gateway Memorial rage with its Texas-centric homestyle menu. Doors open at 11 am Friday.

“We are taking every safety precaution and following guidelines to ensure a clean place for guests to dine, come May 1st,” State Fare chef Justin Yoakum tells PaperCity. “We want our guests to feel safe while here and are working with our staff to have minimal interaction with our guests by offering things like disposable silverware and menus, while also providing Venmo as a payment method.”

With the huge success of Matt Brice’s Federal American Grill opening last Friday, one might expect a rush to the table at any number of restaurants opening up after the lifting of the coronavirus-mandated dining-room closures.

Yoakum puts forward his additional precautions beyond limiting his restaurant to the governor-mandated 25 percent capacity. This will not be dining as usual. Tables will be set with plastic, disposable utensils. Condiments will come in to-go ramekins with plastic lids. Nonalcoholic beverages will be in to-go-style cups.

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The typically packed bar will have limited occupancy. There will be no valet service. The private dining room will be set aside for senior dining.

In one sense, Yoakum plans a full-blown opening with a curated menu including brunch service on Saturday and Sunday. Reservations, via Open Table or 832.831.0950, are strongly recommended.

Local Foods

Happy news for fans of Benjy Levit’s Local Foods establishments. All four locations of the popular eateries will open for business on Friday and will continue operating as a grocery market. Rather than indoor dining, for the moment there will be patio dining only within the 25 percent occupancy orders.

Owner Benjy Levit reveals that Local Foods customers will be able to order at the counter and pick up food when it is ready. They will be asked to toss their disposable utensils and dishes in the garbage themselves. Each location will be open 10 am to 8 pm daily.

Other Friday Openings

Sambrooks Management Company has announced 1751 Sea and Bar in The Heights and  Candente Tex-Mex in Montrose will open on Friday with limited menus and limited capacity for reservations-only diners.  The Pit Room in Montrose will add line service on Friday with a full menu, continued drive-through and takeout services, and limited dine-in service.

“We are excited to open back up for restricted service and welcome back our customers and staff,” Michael Sambrooks says. “Because we are limited to 25 percent of our capacity, we will be open for reservations only at 1751 and Candente, and we will have limited seating that adheres to appropriate social distancing.

“We have deep-cleaned our facility and will be fully sanitizing all tables and settings before each customer is seated. We have also put in place a health screening for our servers and staff every shift, and we will be wearing appropriate PPE.”

The iconic Cleburne Cafeteria has announced opening its doors on Friday while continuing curbside pick-up service for those uncomfortable with dining in. Cleburne, like other restaurants, is following the 25 percent guidelines and other safety precautions.

Berg Hospital Group is working to formulate reopening plans for all restaurants in its stable. More to come on that — and many more Houston restaurants in this rapidly shifting time.

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