- The Texas Restaurant Association (TRA) is broadening its TX Restaurant Relief Fund, which was designed to raise money to aid restaurants negatively impacted by the novel coronavirus pandemic, to also offer "financial support ... to independent restaurants that have been damaged by the vandalism, looting and rioting that erupted over the weekend after George Floyd’s tragic killing," according to a press release.
- The association added an application to access relief online at www.txrestaurant.org/txrestaurantrelieffund.
- "This violence is another huge setback for restaurants, bars and other foodservice businesses that are still suffering crippling losses due to the COVID-19 pandemic," the association said in the release.
In cities across the country, restaurants that were preparing to reopen dining rooms or patios under reduced COVID-19 restrictions had their plans upended by damage amid protests this weekend. So far, TRA seems to be the only organization to expand COVID-19 relief funds to include operators that have suffered property damage.
As demonstrations continue nationwide, it's possible that additional state restaurant associations could offer similar financial support alongside aid for financial loss due to coronavirus restrictions.
The TRA established its TX Restaurant Relief Fund on March 23 and has given more than $2.2 million in grants of up to $5,000 to more than 400 restaurants in the following months. Like restaurants financially impacted by the pandemic, restaurants that have been vandalized can apply for support of up to $5,000. To be eligible, restaurants must be independent and open with plans to continue operating. Independent chains also qualify for these grants, and only have to submit one application per chain.
Since dining rooms were closed in March, the TRA estimates that Texas restaurants have lost an estimated 700,000 jobs and $4.2 billion in revenue. These statistics are staggering, but the state's market may be better positioned to recover since Texas was one of the first few states to allow restaurants to reopen their dining rooms, beginning on May 8. Even with damage in the wake of this weekend's protests, Texas restaurants have had the option to phase into limited capacity dine-in service for almost a month, whereas areas like Washington D.C. began allowing patio seating last week. By late May, comp sales for chain restaurants averaged negative 26% in Texas and Georgia, which also opened up dining rooms in early May, versus the national average of a negative 40%, according to Black Box Intelligence data shared during a webinar on Wednesday.
Still, just because Texas restaurants had the chance at a head start to reopen doesn't mean they all took it. The week before May 8, 47.4% of the state's restaurants said they wouldn't open, according to a poll of 401 restaurants from the TRA. Forty-one percent of operators said they would wait to open until May 18, when the second phase of Gov. Greg Abbot's reopening plan, which allows for dining rooms to hold 50% of customer capacity, went into place.
It's unclear if TRA's stipulation that a restaurant be "open" to qualify for money to cover property damage means that their dining room must be open, or simply that they must be taking orders.