Phase one of Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s executive order to begin reopening the state started last Friday, May 1. During this phase, restaurants were allowed to reopen their dining rooms at 25 percent building occupancy, along with other restrictions.
Opinions vary on whether this was the right step during the COVID-19 pandemic. Some restaurants decided to stick with to-go services only, which had been the requirement in the Houston area since March 17.
However, for Field & Tides in the Heights, the option to open was exactly what was needed.
“We opened to maintain our financial responsibly, as it was not sustainable for us to be open for just curbside, takeout and limited delivery,” general manager Jeff Conger said. “We could not go on forever as a carryout restaurant, as we are a chef-driven concept.”
Field & Tides thrives on getting its dishes out hot and fresh to customers’ tables as soon as possible.
“We don’t have a drive-thru for a reason,” Conger said.
The restaurant at 705 E. 11th St. also wasn’t able to keep all of its employees while it functioned without an open dining room. Even with the occupancy limitations, Conger said Field & Tides was able to bring those team members back.
In addition to limited occupancy, restaurants reopening their dining rooms also have to abide by other protocols, including maintaining at least a 6 feet of distance between tables, having hand sanitizing stations at the entry and having no tables with more than six people.
On the tables, restaurants have to use non-reusable condiments that are given to customers only by request along with using disposable menus.
Luckily for Field & Tides, Conger said its customers have not minded the new rules.
“We saw a huge influx of customers this past weekend, so much so we had to turn some people away to maintain compliance,” Conger said. “We had some of our regulars tell us that during quarantine, they told themselves once they were able to dine in again, we were first on their list.”
Conger also said that even 25 percent occupancy is cost effective for the business.
“We would not have been able to sustain our business for two more weeks,” Conger said.
Field & Tides’ is now operating under normal business hours.
The restaurant’s regular menus are available for dine-in. Items from those menus are still available for takeout and curbside, in addition to family meals and weekly specials.
“We thrive on interaction with our customers and we are looking forward to getting back to being able to do that without restrictions,” Conger said.