It already has been a difficult time for Hartz Krispy Chicken Buffet on Pinemont Drive, just like it has for restaurants all over the Houston area. They have been restricted to drive-through, carryout and delivery services since March 17 as the region tries to promote social distancing and slow the spread of COVID-19.
The restrictions have resulted in a decline in business for Hartz owner Naro Mak, who is now dealing with an overnight break-in at his restaurant at 1215 Pinemont Dr.
Mak said someone threw a chunk of concrete through one of his windows at about 4 a.m. Thursday, then stole a few pieces of chicken that were left in the building overnight. Mak was still able to open his restaurant a few hours later but had to spend a couple hundred dollars to replace the broken window.
“Bro, it sucks,” Mak said.
Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo said Thursday that burglaries of buildings in the city have increased by about 21 percent since Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo issued a stay-at-home, work safe order for the city and county on March 24. Only businesses that are deemed essential, including restaurants, are permitted to operate during the order, which is in effect through the end of April. So many businesses have closed or are having their employees work from home.
Mak said he did not report the break-in to the Houston Police Department, because it has “all kinds of stuff going on” amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. He also said a $250 donation from friend Joe Solis, the owner of Image Grafix in Northwest Houston, covered the cost to replace his window.
Mak had written in a Thursday morning Facebook post that he would need to pull from a GoFundMe account he set up to pay for the window repair. That prompted a jump in donations, which Mak said will now be used for charitable purposes.
He said he’s donating meals to first responders and families in need. For example, Mak said he plans to feed 42 people at Houston Methodist Willowbrook Hospital later this week.
On his GoFundMe page, which had raised $2,790 as of late Thursday afternoon, Mak said he is coordinating his charitable efforts with American Legion Post 560 in Garden Oaks, St. Stephen’s United Methodist Church at 2003 W. 43rd St. and Easter Seals of Greater Houston. He said the money is being used to feed families in need and to support his restaurant and its 10 employees.
Mak said he has not had to lay off or furlough any of his staff members, although they have had to reduce their hours by one shift. He also said his Hartz Krispy Chicken Buffet location has reduced its hours of operation by one hour in the evenings.
The restaurant is open from 10:30 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
“The noose is getting tighter, man,” Mak said. “What the neighborhood is doing is sustaining me.”