Austin-area businesses emerge from COVID-19 pandemic with newfound opportunities


Editor’s Note: This story has been updated to clarify Valentina’s is leasing a building in Buda.

AUSTIN (KXAN) — The COVID-19 pandemic devastated dozens of businesses, but there’s still light amid the darkness.

A number of new businesses recently emerged or will be expanding. Valentina’s Tex Mex BBQ and Mama Betty’s Tex Mex Cantina are living testaments of this.

Valentina’s, a food truck and patio-based restaurant in south Austin, will be expanding to a permanent brick-and-mortar location in Buda at 306 South Main Street in Buda.

The owners, Modesty and Miguel Vidal, said their family relocated to the Buda area last year and “fell in love with the small-town charm of the city.”

Feeling a responsibility to be a part of the town’s growth, they took the opportunity to lease a building that’s part of the Buda Mill & Grain Co. project. The recently redeveloped area is shaping up to host retail, restaurant and office space “with the interntion of bringing the surrounding community together to savor good food and wine, shop locally, grab a slice of cake or just meet up with friends to listen to live music,” according to its website.

The owner of soon-to-be Mama Betty’s Restaurant, Jason Carrier, already owns bars in the Austin area. However, when bars were shut down with uncertainties of reopening looming overhead, Carrier said he was forced to come up with a more stable plan.

“I started thinking about the future and the longevity of my career and taking care of my family,” Carrier said.

Mama Betty's on West Parmer Lane in north Austin (Photo: Jason Carrier)
Mama Betty’s on West Parmer Lane in north Austin (Photo: Jason Carrier)

Mama Betty’s will be opening in the upcoming months in north Austin at 9900 West Parmer Lane, #220.

“This would not be happening if it weren’t for the pandemic, because on my side, I started thinking creatively and differently,” Carrier said.

Embarking on this journey for him is sentimental. He’ll be opening the restaurant in memory of his mom.

Carrier said he’s served in the restaurant industry for 20 years. He said they’ll build a new atmosphere surrounding his family’s experiences growing up in his mother’s restaurants.

“She started as a hostess in the 80s and just kind of climbed the ladder. My babysitters literally were the restaurants,” Carrier said.

Executive Director of the Buda Area Chamber of Commerce J.R. Gonzalez said growth is happening all around, even during a pandemic.

“Pandemic or no pandemic, people want to move to Austin, they want to move to Central Texas,” Gonzalez said.

There are now 850 businesses in Buda alone, according to Gonzalez.

“They [businesses] sustain themselves, they learn to work smarter — a little bit harder,” Gonzalez said.

You could call Carrier’s new journey a passion project, and he knows his mom would be proud.

“She was a very supportive, loving, passionate woman,” Carrier said. “She made sure all of her boys knew she was just so proud of them.”

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