AUSTIN (KXAN) — The food service industry in Texas is now operating under a series of new and amended laws.

According to the Texas Restaurant Association, many of them are streamlining regulations and reducing costs for restaurants and their employees.

“These laws will benefit the 55,000 foodservice establishments that employ more than 1.4 million Texans, plus the communities they serve,” the TRA said in a press release.

What are some of the new laws?

The association said major themes of the new laws include:

  • Fewer permit fees
  • Clearer health codes
  • Property tax relief
  • Workforce development

Harlan Scott is the owner of Industry, a new restaurant in East Austin. Scott has another location in San Marcos and a new project in Burnet.

He said with multiple locations, come different rules.

“You could build a bar in one county, and they want a certain kind of surface that has to be a certain color or a certain wipe ability,” Scott said, “Or you have to have this many sinks in your kitchen versus this many sinks in another kitchen.”

With different requirements can come extra costs.

“The city’s like, ‘Here’s another license you got to get,’ ” Scott said. “We need $1,000 bucks or we’re going to shut you down.”

But thanks to a new state law, Senate Bill 577, that’s changing.

“A restaurant was having to get different permits really to do the same activity. We said in those instances where we can take away a permit, but not you know, take away a health safety function or some kind of core regulation, we should really do that,” said Texas Restaurant Association Chief Public Affairs Officer Kelsey Erickson Streufert.

Streufert said dozens of new laws went into effect in September related to the foodservice industry.

“We went to the legislature and are really proud of the fact that the legislature heard that cry, and we had great bipartisan support for a lot of different measures that are going to help restaurants,” Streufert said.

One of them has to do with clearer health codes.

“If a local government creates health department rules that differ from statewide standards, they need to send that information to the state,” she said.

That information will then be posted on one website for everyone to see so the rules are clear.

Decline in dine-in customers

Streufert said these changes come at a time when restaurants need relief.

“Every dollar we can help those businesses save goes back to their bottom line—helps them stay open for another month, another year, another decade, hopefully in their community,” she said.

The TRA said restaurants have seen a decline in dine-in customers because of the extreme heat.

“According to OpenTable, Texas’ seated diner traffic has decreased 3-5% compared to Summer 2022,” the TRA said.

Simultaneously, the association said there’s been an increase in food and labor costs. Those problems still persist, but Scott said these new laws will help.

“Hoping that there’s some upside this fall,” Scott said. “If we can have less expenses and a little less regulation, that sets us up for success.”