One owner of a restaurant in Texas could not watch his business dissolve due to coronavirus shutdown. Matt Brice, owner of Federal American Grill in Houston, said he could no longer stomach watching his workers’ lives destroyed while his business remained closed.
When asked if he felt his action was an expression of “defiance,” Mr. Brice said it was simply what needed to be done, reports Ellie Bufkin in Townhall.
Keeping His Priorities Straight
Mr. Brice followed the orders for shut down as long as he could and followed the most important criteria.
This is not to defy. Everybody’s using this word “defy.” I’m a businessperson, and I have a lot of employees that are hurting at the moment, a lot. You can see the economy just absolutely crashed. The first two weeks when we were told to basically “hunker down,” as we say here, everybody did and we have all the way through six weeks.
Of the threat of six months of jail time for ignoring the order, Brice said he had his priorities straight, considering the number of people under his watch that was ravaged by the collapsed economy.
“We’ve Complied 100% until Now”
Brice told the Houston Chronicle:
What I don’t like is that the government is picking and choosing which businesses win or lose. They are sinking the economy. We have to stand our ground and get people back to work.
It wasn’t to be rebellious or anything, it was really because people don’t have an out. These guys have to get a paycheck. Paychecks stopped. There’s a lot of nice programs out there with a stimulus check, that helped, but for how long? … You know, so at some point, we have to get back to work.
Restaurant Policies to Assure Safety of Staff and Customers
Calling his weekend opening a “pilot program” of sorts for other local restaurants, Brice said many changes allowed them to be open with the safety of patrons and workers at the forefront of his mind.
Disposable menus, masks, and gloves for all employees, and a bathroom attendant ensuring proper social distancing were all measures taken by Brice and his team to get the restaurant open safely.
He also removed chairs from the bar to make sure six feet were observed between patrons and used a color-coded linen system to make sure no guests were sat at tables within six feet of each other.
Brice also introduced hands-free payment options to diners, including the option to use Venmo or PayPal to settle tabs without ever touching a check. According to Mr. Brice, this system was already being used by customers taking food-to-go and was an easy transition for dine-in guests.
“I’ve received tons of support from local restaurants and national restaurateurs,” Brice says. “But this is not about Federal American Grill. It never has been. I am doing this for all the small businesses.”