Some Houston-area restaurants struggling with opening at 25 percent capacity

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- About half of the restaurants in the Houston area reopened on May 1, according to executive director of the Great Houston Restaurant Association Melissa Stewart.

Stewart said there are several factors business owners had to weigh before reopening their doors to customers, including how to restructure the inside of the restaurant to accommodate social distancing.

"Not everybody was quite ready with the four-day notice," Stewart said.

She said every day, more restaurants are reopening, but Stewart estimates about 10 percent may not open again.

"We're supplementing with the to-go, curbside and delivery," Stewart said, "But restaurants, in-order to remain viable, really need to open up at full capacity and run on all cylinders."

Yonny Demeris, owner of Demeris Barbecue, said customers have slowly started to dine-in.

"Last Friday, I thought we were going to run over inside, but we didn't. I mean, a few people trickled in here," Demeris said. "Now, a week later, we had a lot of tables full at lunch. That's about 16 to 20 people in here."

Demeris said it was the catering service that brought in about 60 percent of the business. He said it's too soon to tell if 25 percent capacity will keep them going through the transition.

"For us having a drive-thru is a game changer, there's a lot of businesses out there that don't have a drive-thru and it makes it tougher," Demeris said. "It was like opening a new restaurant because everything is different."

Stewart recommends for people to continue to shop local in order to help businesses bounce back.

"We're here, we need you," Stewart said. "If you have a favorite restaurant that you're waiting to go see, don't wait. Take advantage of something now because we want to make sure they have what they need as our city and our economy reopen."

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