As the pandemic continues many restaurants are trying to cook up ideas to stay open. Like Mary and Erin Stapleton who bought their favorite breakfast joint in northwest Houston when it went up for sale in February.
“Our specialty is New York style bagels,” said Mary Stapleton, owner of Abby’s Bagels and More. “We boil them and bake them every day in house. We also have Boars Head deli sandwiches. We have fresh croissants, muffins… we have quite a selection!”
One month after opening though, the pandemic hit.
“It’s a challenge,” said Erin. “Every day is a challenge for us. I had no idea what was coming.”
This week, the Texas Restaurant Association released results of a new survey which, in addition to finding that 50% of restaurants don’t think they’ll survive beyond six months without federal funds, also found that operational costs are higher than they were pre-pandemic.
Dietrich von Biedenfeld, assistant professor in Business Law in Marilyn Davies College of Business at the University of Houston-Downtown, attributes the increased operational costs to the rising cost of meats due to outbreaks at meatpacking facilities and the need for additional cleaning supplies and PPE costs.
In addition restaurants are trying to make up for lost income due to capacity limits, just a few reasons why some restaurants have raised the prices of their menu items.
“All of those things come together to create insurmountable expenses for restaurants who already have a somewhat limited profit margin in general,” explained Biedenfeld.
The TRA says the restaurant industry makes up 10% of employment in Texas. According to Biedenfeld, if 50% were to close, the economic impacts would be in the billions of dollars and have a trickle-down effect.
“They [restaurant employees] pay rent, they pay mortgages, they pay car notes, they purchase their own groceries for their own households.”
As restaurants ask for community support, lobbyists are pushing for federal funds so places like Abby’s Bagels and More, don’t become a dire statistic.
“More than likely, it will be us,” said Erin Stapleton, “if things don’t change for the better. But we are going to fight it tooth and nail.”
The TRA has created a Texas Relief Restaurant Fund, a non-profit which has already supplied $2.5 million in grants to more than 500 restaurants across the state. Donations can be made by texting TRRF to 31996. For more information, click here.
Abby’s Bagels and More is located at 4443 Cypress Creek Pkwy, 77068. For more information about the breakfast and lunch restaurant, click here.