Restaurants all around Houston are slowly reopening to the public, and some Heights-area establishments are joining them.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott issued an executive order last week that allowed businesses to gradually reopen around the state. Businesses such as restaurants, movie theaters and malls could open their doors to the public on May 1, but must limit building occupancy to 25 percent of capacity and adhere to social distancing guidelines that require 6 feet of separation between people who are not part of the same household.
1751 Sea and Bar in the Heights opened May 1 and will operate from 4-10 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday for the duration of Phase 1 of Abbott’s order.
“What we discovered was that we could open up with a limited menu, and bring in a certain amount of staff that felt completely comfortable coming back to work,” 1751 Sea and Bar Director of Operations Steve Breaker said.
In order to guard against further spread of COVID-19, the upper-respiratory disease caused by the new coronavirus strain, the restaurant has implemented several safety measures.
In limiting occupancy to 25 percent, the restaurant is taking seating by reservation only to help control the flow of traffic. Breaker said they also set up sanitizer stations throughout the dining room such as near the bathrooms and right inside the front door – so customers can sanitize immediately upon walking in – and within the dining room itself.
All staff will be wearing gloves and face masks, and every surface will be thoroughly sanitized throughout the shift, according to Breaker.
An office-services business located on East T.C. Jester Boulevard, Office Orioles, said there are physical changes that can be made to office buildings that allow for new employee protections.
“One thing we’re helping with right now is reconfiguring office cubes,” said Mickey Beavan, vice president of Office Orioles. “And that’s not as easy as it sounds. A lot of times, people don’t have the parts necessary to do the reconfiguration.”
Office Orioles also has seen the increase in demand for plexiglass installation and says they are partnering with providers to help offices install shielding for their employees.
“Most desks weren’t made to have screws in the top of the desk,” Beavan said. “There are better ways to do it, and that’s going to be important to a lot of businesses when they reopen.”
Elsewhere in the Heights, Chick’N Cone on North Shepherd Drive also reopened its doors to the public.
General Manager Terrence Foley said the store is taking an abundance of caution to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The restaurant has set up social distancing markers on the floor and made hand sanitizer available at various spots throughout the establishment.
Employees will also be sanitizing the store every two hours, according to Foley, while they will also wear the necessary protective equipment such as face coverings.
“Now that they’re allowing to do it, we’re fine with it,” he said of the decision to reopen.