Half of Texas restaurants could close within the next six months if government help doesn’t come


AUSTIN (KXAN) — A new survey from the Texas Restaurant Association says half of Texas eateries could close within the next six months if they don’t receive financial assistance.

Some are hoping the governor extends restaurants some leniency in his planned remarks Thursday.

“We fight for every nickel that comes into that door,” said Jack Gilmore, owner of Jack Allen’s Kitchen. Gilmore owns a second restaurant franchise, as well, totaling six locations in the Austin metro.

Gilmore says he was thankful to receive a federal payroll protection program loan this spring. It helped pay his employee’s salaries and keep the lights on at his six Central Texas restaurants.

Now, six months since the pandemic closed down his businesses, he says he could use some help again—either financially or through government leniency.

“We’re paying 100% rent, 100% electrical, 100% insurance. But we are only able to sit 50% [capacity]. It’s not fair,” Gilmore said.

The Texas Restaurant Association agrees.

“I’m not sure as a society we have really wrapped our head around how terribly sad it would be to lose so many of these businesses,” said Kelsey Erickson Streufert, the Vice President of Government Relations and Advocacy for the Texas Restaurant Association.

More than a quarter of Texas restaurant owners said August was even worse than July.

Erickson Streufert said the early push for take-out that the general public had to keep their favorite spots open has been replaced by back-to-school stresses and other fall adjustments. But she is hopeful there can be another push from locals.

“Be part of the solution. Look for opportunities to help those restaurants that are important to you.”

The TRA is hoping Governor Greg Abbott can also make some concessions, like allowing more customers indoors and getting creative with safety measures which could cut down on expenses like PPE and disinfectants.

Abbott is expected to provide an update on his statewide COVID-19 response on Thursday at noon.

Reach KXAN’s Alex Caprariello by email at alexc@kxan.com or by phone at 512-703-5365, or find him on Twitter and Facebook.

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