After weeks of not being able to eat inside restaurants, some residents were more than ready to slide into local dining rooms after Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s executive order began reopening the state the first weekend in May.
“I cannot say enough how good it felt to just sit down inside and get iced tea and a meal served to me,” area resident Cindy Harper said.
Harper, who patronized Barbecue Inn, 116 W. Crosstimbers Rd., said the restaurant was clean and abided by the rules set in place for Phase 1 of reopening.
During this phase, restaurants are allowed to reopen their dining rooms at 25 percent occupancy while maintaining at least 6 feet of distance between tables, having hand sanitizing stations at the entry and having no tables with more than six people. Restaurants also have to use disposable menus and non-reusable condiments that are given to customers only by request.
“It was odd to see tables and chairs pushed aside, no flowers or condiments on the tables, salt and pepper served in the small packets (and) just a few crackers in the basket instead of being full to the top,” Harper said. “All these things felt so abnormal to me, but I was so happy to sit down with a served meal and Barbecue Inn did not disappoint. I sat there and savored every bite of that fried shrimp platter and several glasses of fresh iced tea.”
Andy Tomczeszyn has dined at Wakefield Crowbar, 954 Wakefield Dr., and Torchy’s Tacos, 350 W. 19th St., since Abbott’s executive order went into effect.
“Overall, we felt safe at both restaurants. You could tell they were trying hard to stay compliant, but still serve food and make it enjoyable, especially at Crowbar,” Tomczeszyn said.
But that didn’t stop the experience from feeling weird to Tomczeszyn, who said the way the tables have to be spaced makes you feel alone even with people around you.
“But it was good to get to eat a meal that wasn’t at my coffee table, or worse in bed,” Tomczeszyn said.
Based off those two experiences, he said he planned to continue dining in.
While some local residents who have dined in said they felt comfortable, Abby Schumacher said her experience at Denny’s, 2120 N. Loop W., wasn’t worth it. Although she said it may have been due to the place she ate, a large chain restaurant.
“Our waitress was fantastic, but they had people lingering around the front and outside waiting, which I didn’t like,” Schumacher said. “The manager also continued to pull down her mask to talk every five seconds. I was pretty uncomfortable overall.”
While her meal at Denny’s was full of anxiety, it didn’t cause Schumacher to take eating out off the table. She said she has reservations for Saturday at Brenner’s on the Bayou, 1 Birdstall St.