Chefs and Restaurant Operators Respond to Dallas’ Stay-Home Extension

Restaurants that can stay open are continuing to adapt with curbside service to keep business open and employees paid.
Restaurants that can stay open are continuing to adapt with curbside service to keep business open and employees paid. courtesy Jose
On Friday, Dallas County Commissioners (most of them, anyway) voted to extend the county's Public Health Emergency through May 20, and County Judge Clay Jenkins announced the shelter-in-place rules would continue through April 30.

Of course, Dallas restaurants have evolved drastically since in-house dining was stopped March 17. Shelter-in-place rules were originally supposed to wrap April 3, and the extension didn't surprise most of us, as COVID-19 continues to spread across the nation.

So, we thought we'd check in with a few restaurateurs to see what they're thinking.

Andrea Meyer

Pastry chef and owner of Bisous Bisous Patisserie

“I’m not surprised by the extension; we’ve been working under the assumption that we aren’t going back to the 'normal' that was, and we’re having to adapt to the new guidelines for the long haul. We’ve been stocking up on our supplies so we can continue operating if the supply chain breaks down. We’re not running out of dry goods any time soon!

“We’re seeing a big uptick in freezer-to-oven products and small cakes for families looking to celebrate at home. We’ll continue to do what we can to exceed the needs of our customers and be true to our values. If we can do both and be safe, we’ll stay open. If at any time we don’t think we can, we won’t stay open. For now we’re being cautious and are hopeful we can be a small, safe glimmer of happiness in these uncertain times.“

Ismael Sanchez

Owner of Del Sur Tacos

“I feel that it will keep all of us safe, and we need to adapt to what comes ... we will get through this soon.”

Richard Vana

Owner of Heritage Table

“I'm sure Collin, or at least the cities within it, will follow suit shortly anyway. Either way, I'm not sure there's a restaurant owner within the area that expects their doors to be open before June. It's the right call for public health. But as a matter of course, the attrition rate for restaurants will be high. Like, maybe very high. But we, at least, will keep fighting while we can.”

Matt McCallister

Chef and owner of Homewood

“Well, while it’s unfortunate for business for sure, I also have no clue what the ripple effect looks like for the economy as a whole, but it can’t be good. We are fortunate to have a city that for the most part seems to be ahead of the curve on making these decisions before the majority of the U.S., so that’s a good thing. I am actually enjoying spending some extra time with the family though, so that’s a positive.”

Jonathon Erdeljac

Chef and owner of Jonathon's Oak Cliff and Jonathon's Diner

“How can you extend it through May 20 on April 3? If it’s so bad, just shut everything down for two weeks, and let’s get on with it. We made the mistake of going to Walmart yesterday; that’s where the problem is, there were people everywhere, no one was practicing social distancing ... I just want this to end; I will work my ass off to remain positive, but it’s getting pretty fucking hard to smile.”

Victor Rojas

General manager of Jose

“While it is certainly not the news that we wanted to hear, especially at this time, we understand the importance of the rule and enforcing the rule. We will continue to adapt and change our business plan to meet the demands of our staff and our ownership as we provide the Jose experience at home for our guests. It also allows us to continue to provide donated meals to feed the front lines as well as many other medical organizations.”

John Tesar

Chef and owner of Knife

“I am very lucky to have something to sell and great relationships with hotels and my partner. I pray everyone follows the advice of the doctors and scientists so we can get back to work.”

Nick Badovinus

Owner of Town Hearth, Neighborhood Services, Montlake Cut and Desert Racer

“I really have no comment about it. Not surprising and something we have been expecting. We are just focused on the future and on things we can control in the present. Staying safe and mentally strong.”

Luis Olvera

Owner of Trompo

“I'm not surprised. If you follow what’s happening around the world, China locked down at the end of January and is just now coming out of it, so realistically we are looking at three to four months of serious impact.”

Alex Astranti

Chef de cuisine at Uchi and Uchiba

“I know this has been really hard and it’s not getting any easier. However, I think we need to stay as safe as possible, and this extension is a smart decision for the county.”

Brooks Anderson

Co-owner of Veritas Wine Room, Boulevardier, Rapscallion and Hillside Tavern

“I am as anxious as anybody to get back to work, but based on the statements of both internationally recognized epidemiologists and the doctors and nurses on the front lines, we first need to slow the spread so the healthcare system can catch up to the demand. Once that happens, I look forward to figuring out how to restart our little slice of the larger economy.”

Julien Eelsen

Owner of Whisk Crepes Cafe

“I think it is handled properly. People are frustrated that the date keeps changing, but it is a fluid situation, and it will likely change in the future again. I am happy that our local leaders are listening to the medical field to make sound decisions. Financially, it is hard, but [the] CARES act will alleviate some of the burden. I am lucky not to be isolated. Bottom line: It sucks for a lot of people and businesses. But personally, I will get through this economically.”
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Taylor Adams has written about the restaurant industry for the Dallas Observer since 2016. Now the Observer's food editor, she attended Southern Methodist University before covering local news at The Dallas Morning News.