Austin restaurants participate in ‘Great American Takeout’ to help during gathering bans

National News

AUSTIN (KXAN) — “America’s restaurants are in crisis,” Vice President of DeVries Global, Josh Levitt said in an email KXAN received. Levitt represents several national restaurants including Blaze Pizza and Del Taco.

Levitt believes “the coronavirus poses a significant threat to the future of an industry that employs more than 15 million Americans.”

That ripple effect is felt in Austin.

Local restaurants took a hit when Gov. Greg Abbott announced a state-wide mandate limiting social gatherings to no more than 10 people. Several other Texas counties have gone a step farther ordering a shelter-in-place for the coming weeks including the City of Austin. Many businesses were forced to either close, lay off employees or limit their sales to drive-thru, takeout or delivery only.

Those able to do the latter are hoping to hop on a viral movement to increase sales and, in turn, continue to pay their employees during the coronavirus outbreak.

The idea is to support the industry as well as employees by eating at least one delivery or pick-up meal Tuesday.

The movement is called The Great American Takeout for Tuesday, March 24. If you search the hashtags #TheGreatAmericanTakout or #GreatAmericanTakeout, you will find many restaurants are participating including local ones like taco chain Torchy’s.

Chief Marketing Officer For Torchy’s Scott Hudler said of the movement, “We think it’s great… A lot of the restaurants are still open and they need these takeout and delivery orders to survive.”

Hudler said their restaurants have had to “very quickly transition from a model that was about two-thirds dine-in and one-third takeaway to one that is mandated to be 100% off-premise.”

They’ve had to adjust “off the fly” but are thankful the government has let them be creative and sell items to-go. “The ability to do margarita kits, which we’re launching today,” Hudler said. “Tomorrow, we’ll be launching curbside.”

It’s been a hard undertaking.

The Torchy’s experience is “the exact opposite of social distancing. It’s there, it’s a very social experience. So now, having to switch to that… it’s been a pretty heroic effort by our operators,” he said.

President of Wayback Burgers Patrick Conlin said in an emailed statement to KXAN: “During these difficult times in our world’s history, we must stick together. By supporting local restaurants today, you are helping your neighbor keep their paycheck. Wayback Burgers is committed to each community we are a part of and ask for your backing today during the #GreatAmericanTakeout.”

Owner of Wayback Burgers in Round Rock, Bonnie Diwadkar, spoke of what business has been like since the mandate, “It has been hard but we are trying every which way,” which includes discounts to first responders. “Our responders are going to be out there, not just for one day, two days, but they are going to be there till this is taken care of and we are going to be with them.”

Entire cities are jumping on board, too. Georgetown followed the trend, promoting it along with listing places offering various options.

Check here for status updates of Austin restaurants.

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