50% of Texas restaurant owners say they will have to close within 6 months without help, survey finds

Texas bars are still closed amid the coronavirus pandemic

Mary Spoto, general manager of Madison Chop House Grille, changes the sign as she and her staff prepare to shift from take out only to dine-in service Monday, April 27, 2020, in Madison, Ga. Some Georgia restaurants were reopening for limited dine-in service as more restrictions against the coronavirus are loosened in the state. Movie theaters on Monday can welcome customers and limited in-restaurant dining may resume. (AP Photo/John Bazemore) (John Bazemore, Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

SAN ANTONIO – A recent survey from the Texas Restaurant Association (TRA) revealed some somber news for the industry.

According to a survey of 3,500 restaurant owners and operators, 50% believe their business will not be open in six months if no additional relief packages are given by the federal government and 46% say it’s unlikely they will be open in six months if business conditions continue at current levels.

The survey found that it’s costing more to run a restaurant right now even as most owners say they’re bringing in less money.

While 80% of restaurant operators say their total dollar sales volume was down in August of 2020 compared to a year ago, 73% say operation costs are higher now than they were pre-pandemic.

And the numbers don’t seem to be getting better for some restaurants, according to the survey results, which showed that 28% of operators reported worse business conditions in August than they did in July.

The industry normally employs 1.3 million Texans, according to the TRA, but staffing is down 29% right now.

Gov. Greg Abbott issued an executive order as part of a Public Health Disaster declaration that banned dine-in eating on March 19 and the order was extended through April 19. It was the first time a public health disaster has been declared in Texas since 1901.

Restaurants were allowed to continue operation for take-out and delivery, and while 77% of operators said off-premises sales are at a higher percentage now than pre-pandemic, it hasn’t been an easy transition for every business.

Officials with the TRA said on Sept. 16 that “restaurants can’t just switch their operations over to takeout and delivery and be fine. This is not an option for everyone in our industry.”

Latest survey results available and they are not good. The biggest takeaways: - 71% of Texas operators say they don’t...

Posted by Texas Restaurant Association on Wednesday, September 16, 2020

And if the pandemic has been rough for restaurants, it’s been brutal for bars.

Texas bars were ordered to close mid-March, allowed to reopen at 25% capacity on May 22, got the go-ahead to increase capacity to 50% on June 3, and then on June 26, Gov. Greg Abbott issued an executive order to reclose all bars with roughly 3 hours notice.

In late July, bars were allowed to reclassify as restaurants to reopen but it wasn’t an easy switch for many.

Bars that have not been able to reclassify remain closed even as Abbott this week allowed for other businesses, including restaurants, gyms, retail stores, museums, and offices, to increase their capacity to 75%. (Businesses in a region where hospitalizations make up more than 15% of admissions must keep occupancy levels at 50% capacity.)

At a national level, a June report from the National Restaurant Association showed that the industry expected to lose $240 billion by the end of 2020.

About the Author:

Mary Claire Patton has been a journalist with KSAT 12 since 2015. She has reported on several high-profile stories during her career at KSAT and specializes in trending news and things to do around Texas and San Antonio.