Restaurants in Kilgore are beginning to reopen their dining rooms as Gov. Greg Abbott continues to open up the state.
While most businesses in the city were affected by the outbreak, the financial impact on these businesses is still uncertain as limitations on capacity, changes to operation and health and safety regulations are continually put into place.
Janet Beall, manager of the Tackle Box located at 2700 U.S. Highway 259 in Kilgore, said that the location is just opened its doors Thursday for the first time since the second week of March.
“We are operating with less than half of the tables, and no party larger than six can be served,” Beall said.
She said that the location has transitioned to all throw away silverware and sauce containers, with no items being left to just sit on the table between customers.
“It does end up being a lot of work running back and forth from the table,” Beall said. “We have to run a lot more because we can’t leave anything on the tables.”
She said that while the financial impact on the location is not yet known, the restaurant is very ready to be opened back up.
“I am sure that this whole thing is going to hurt us,” Beall said. “We are going to try and open everything up and see how it goes.”
She said that along with the changes to dining room operations, the location has also altered it hours, opening only on Thursday through Sunday every week. And wait staff is wearing masks as long as any customers are in the restaurant.
Other businesses have actually seen a rise in business while keeping operations going during the shutdown by moving to pick up and delivery only.
Vernice Ordorica, with Edgar’s Big Taco located at 216 E. Main St. downtown, said that business has actually picked up since the dining rooms across town have had to close their doors.
“After the first week our sales have actually been up, its been great the community has been very supportive,” Ordorica said.
She said that the businesses actually saw the best sales day of their 25 years of operation during the shutdown, on Cinco De Mayo.
“It was a record sales day, for the entire time I have been in business,” she said. “And we opened our dining room as soon as we could, but we made sure only every other table was used and marked those that wouldn’t be used with an x.”
She said that the location is also putting in new sanitation regulations and making sure to follow all city and state guidelines to keep staff and community members safe.
Chris Bewley, an owner of Johnny’s Ozark’s Fried Chicken at 2418 S. Henderson Blvd., said that the location has also seen a similar rise in sales during the outbreak.
“I think a lot of that has to do with the Kilgore Chamber of Commerce,” Bewley said. “The Facebook group and everything has helped a lot, and I feel like it is not just us, but it has helped a lot of people.”
Bewley said that the location has actually decided to keep their dining room closed until they can reopen at 100 percent capacity.
“We have a very small dining room, so it would be difficult with the social distancing thing to keep everything sanitized,” Bewely said.
Though the location does not have indoor seating, he said that they have opened so that customers can order to go through drive thru and in doors.
The location has added more regulations, including all employees wearing gloves and adding additional sanitizer stations to be sure everything is kept clean.