The cancellation of the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo on Wednesday, amidst concerns about the spread of the new coronavirus, was devastating news to the entire region.
A Heights-area restaurant is trying to soften that blow by offering a discount to rodeo ticket-holders.
People with pre-purchased tickets for cancelled rodeo events can bring them to Cavatore Italian Restaurant, 2120 Ella Blvd., is exchange for half off the price of an entree when another entree of equal or greater value is purchased. Owner Federico Cavatore said the promotion is valid for customers who dine in or place to-go orders and will last through March 22, when the rodeo was scheduled to end.
“Amid what I saw with the Houston rodeo when it was cancelled, we were just talking it over with our restaurant and I thought, ‘What better way to help out and give back?'” Cavatore said.
At lunchtime Thursday, Cavatore said about 10 customers had taken advantage of the promotion since it started on Wednesday. He also said the popular Italian restaurant in Shady Acres had not seen a drop-off in customers because of fears related to COVID-19, the upper-respiratory disease caused by the new strain of coronavirus.
“Thank God. It’s our livelihood,” Cavatore said. “Most of our staff is paycheck to paycheck. If that stops, then what?”
Local government and health officials in the City of Houston as well as Fort Bend, Harris and Montgomery counties had reported a total of 17 COVID-19 cases in the region as of Thursday afternoon. Amidst concerns about its spread, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner and Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo have urged residents to limit public gatherings and said they are postponing or cancelling all city- and county-sponsored events in the month of March.
According to the World Health Organization, which on Wednesday declared the outbreak a pandemic, more than 125,000 COVID-19 cases have been confirmed in 118 different countries, including nearly 1,000 cases in the United States. The disease has led to more than 4,600 deaths globally.
“I understand the public’s a little scared, and everybody’s frustrated, not really knowing what’s really going on and how things are happening,” Cavatore said. “It’s moving so fast.”
Cavatore said his restaurant is keeping clean by disinfecting surfaces after each lunch and dinner shift. He also said staff members are wearing gloves in the kitchen and frequently changing them along with frequently washing their hands.
He said Eleanora’s Farmers Market, which is held in the restaurant’s parking lot every Saturday from 9 a.m.-1 p.m., will continue to be held, although no samples will be given. Cavatore said all of the 40 or so vendors at the market remain committed to participating.
“This is their way of surviving,” Cavatore said of the vendors. “They make their money like this every weekend.”