Restaurant that defied Harris Co. stay home order returns to take-out only

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Thursday, June 25, 2020
Dine-in service to resume at restaurant despite stay-home order
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One Houston restaurant owner has decided not to let Harris County's stay-at-home/work safe order prevent him from operating his business.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- In response to Harris County's latest mask order, a Houston area restaurant that defied the original Stay-At-Home order is returning to curbside, take out, and delivery services only.

In a post on Facebook, Federal American Grill said it is "simply not willing to police others' choices, nor do [they] want to risk hurting anyone."

The restaurant reopened its dining room for the first time in weeks back in April, defying Harris County's Stay-At-Home order, and no one tried to stop it.

SEE ALSO: Reservations filled up at restaurant reopening amid stay home order

"There has to be a point in time, the bleeding from the restaurant needs to stop. These guys (employees) have go to get back to work, but safely," Federal American Grill owner Matt Brice told ABC13. He said reservations "sold out" in 10 minutes.

"I've been waiting forever now, it feels like, to have somebody bring me a drink and take care of me. It's fabulous," said diner Charles Lyons. "He's not trying to be a rebel, he's trying to keep his business alive," added wife, Adrienne Lyons.

It was reservation-only. Brice limited seating to only a third of the dining room capacity. The staff wore masks and gloves. He set strict safety and social distancing rules. By re-opening, he also forced Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo's hand.

"It's sad. It's a problem because it puts us at a disadvantage and diminishes all the other sacrifices that every other institution is making, other business owners are making," Hidalgo said.

WATCH: Mayor Turner says all restaurants should still be applying to the executive order until the governor cancels it

Brice risked a $1,000 fine or even jail time, but no one showed up to enforce the order that limits restaurants to take-out service only.

The Hedwig Village police chief and mayor did come to support the restaurant, along with city council members from surrounding cities. Renee Davis stood outside with a sign that read, "Democrats against Lina" and "Let Us Work."

"I think it is fantastic," said Davis. "I wish there were more businesses that were willing to step across the rules and choose what they want to do."

One passersby disagreed with the opening, but declined to be interviewed.

Brice says he doesn't want to be the face of defiance, but he would rather be known for preserving jobs and keeping his business alive.

"I'm not trying to start any war with her whatsoever, but sometimes, it takes a push to get things moving," said Brice.

FULL INTERVIEW: ABC13 spoke with the owner of Federal Grill, who said he's reopening his restaurant despite Harris County's executive order