Downtown businesses hope to cash in on Astros' home opener

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Baseball is back at Minute Maid Park with the Astros' home opener against the Oakland A's on Thursday, and nearby businesses are hoping the day brings in much-needed customers.

"Last year was tough, not going to lie," said Joel Barker of Potente, an Italian restaurant across from Minute Maid Park on Texas Avenue.

Staff are getting ready for what they hope is a continued rebound in business. Like many downtown businesses, places like Potente had to get creative to stay alive during the pandemic.

READ ALSO: Restaurant executives say 'it's a blessing' to have flourished during COVID-19

Now, with vaccine rollout and the state allowing businesses to open up to 100%, owners are hopeful for the future, especially now that baseball fans are coming back.

"It's getting better," said Barker. "We're open 100%, but we're not at 100%."

Other owners agreed.

"I think a lot of people are ready to party and let go and a lot of people are getting vaccinated," said the executive chef at Osso and Kristalla, Danny Trace. "I think the party will be back downtown, no doubt about it."

Restaurants will still encourage people to wear masks and practice social distancing, but it won't be required. They will also maintain their cleaning practices to keep everyone safe and healthy. For the home opener, capacity at Minute Maid Park will be limited to 50%. The Astros expect the game to be sold out, and businesses are hoping to cash in on that.

"We hope it's like years before where there's thousands of people walking in front of the place," said Trace.

READ ALSO: Everything Astros fans need to know about home opener
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Are masks required? Will the roof be open? What can you bring inside? We've got the answers to those questions and more right here.

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