Restaurants could close due to COVID-19, but you can help

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- The impact of the coronavirus shutdown could mean 30 percent of Houston restaurants will close, and thousands will be out of a job by the end of the year.

The Texas Restaurant Association said statewide, owners lost $4 billion in revenue during the previous three months.

It believes 12 percent of restaurants have permanently closed.

That number could climb to 30 percent by the end of the year.

Federal numbers show there are nearly 200,000 people employed in restaurants, which means 60,000 could be out of a job by the end of the year.

"A lot of people came back when we started to reopen, and what they're finding is the cost, with the guidelines, reduced customer flow," Texas Restaurant Association CEO, Emily Williams Knight, explained. "It's just become a real challenge."

For 24 years, Palazzo's Cafe in west Houston has offered customers a place to come together.

"Palazzo's is a neighborhood restaurant," owner John Moore said.

The Italian restaurant needs its neighbors more than ever.

While the 2620 Briar Ridge location has thrived on to-go orders, the owner says his two other restaurants aren't doing as well because they rely on dine-in service

"It's scary, quite frankly," Moore said. "We take it one day at a time. We just plan for one week. We don't know what the future holds."

Palazzo's isn't alone.

To help owners, the Texas Restaurant Association is appealing to state and local leaders.

It wants alcohol to-go expanded and money given to owners.

"We're asking for a relief fund, using some of the money from the CARES Act and asking that to come in the form of grants for restaurants across the state," said Knight.

Customers can help too.

The agency suggests buying gift cards to use later, ordering takeout and sharing your experience on social media.

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