A restaurant check-in for B.C.’s next phase of restart in Houston

How are restaurants dealing with dine-in, new protocols, customers?

When the pandemic hit, a lot of businesses suffered due to the closures but some restaurants were able to shift their dine-in options to take-away and managed to stay afloat. However, with changing restrictions, some of these places have opened up for dine-in.

The Pleasant Valley Restaurant is one such place which is now open for dine-in for its customers.

“We enjoy having people back and we hope people continue to be patient, and understand that things still haven’t changed for us,” said Pleasant Valley Restaurant’s Aubrey Mitchell.

There however have been a few changes at the restaurant now that it is open for dine-in. For starters, the restaurant is open for 12 hours instead of 16 hours every day. So, instead of opening at six a.m., the restaurant now opens at nine a.m. and stays open until nine in the night. Mitchell also said that although with this move they have lost their six a.m. customers, the business is still good and has been going steady.

Apart from changes in timings, the restaurant is no longer allowing its customers to self-serve and is also seating its customers instead of having an open seating. A few people however, have not been very welcoming of these changes.

“For the most part people have been really good and really accepting but a lot of people are really resistant to change and were yelling at the girls, and were refusing to sit at certain places or refusing to follow the rules,” said Mitchell, adding that most people have been really welcoming but it was almost like some people think that the restaurant has any control over the way things are. “It is frustrating. We just do what we have to do to stay open to serve people and it is just easier with some protocols in place.”

Earlier, Mitchell had taken to Facebook to write a note thanking people for their cooperation but also requesting everyone to respect the rules of the cafe.

The Facebook post which started out acknowledging the numerous changes that everyone has been adjusting to, read “I just want to remind everyone that although the covid restrictions have eased up a bit, we, along with many other businesses still have many strict guidelines to follow. Your opinions are absolutely valued, but please understand that our protocols are there for a reason, and should not have to be explained. Our staff has done an amazing job adapting to ALL of the changes (it has not been easy). I personally, have been abused more in the last three months than the last 30 of customer service combined. (super enfuriating btw). That being said, my staff always comes first. We have the right to refuse service. Please be kind. We have no choice, and are not willing to compromise, no matter what you yell or throw at us. It is what it is, just roll with it! Love you.”

Mitchell told Houston Today that she didn’t want to elaborate more on this issue as her intention has not been to call anyone out, but just to request everyone to be respectful of the staff and the rules that have been put in place for the health and safety of everyone.

Charu Gotem of the Curry House has had similar experiences with some people.

“For the most part, the locals are great and supportive and they even call and reserve tables, but some people coming from outside, or some of the pipeline workers, have sometimes been difficult to deal with,” she said.

The Curry House has had instances like people coming in and sitting without being seated, moving over tables or pulling up chairs to form larger groups, not agreeing to let the staff sanitize the tables, not ready to wait outside while the tables are cleared, and generally not following the protocols laid out by the restaurant.

“Sometimes if we tell them anything not having more than six people at a table, they get angry,” she said. However despite the small hiccups, the restaurant has been very busy and packed. In fact, according to Gotem, the restaurant has been busier than before the pandemic.

Brewstir’s Cafe, which has been open for dine-in after May long-weekend hasn’t faced many such incidents. Dana Miller of Brewstir’s Cafe told Houston Today that most people are pretty good about following the rules however “just the other day we had someone who pushed two tables together. As per the guidelines, only six people at one table are permitted when dining-in so pushing the tables together for larger groups is no longer an option.”

Miller however said that once these groups are told about the regulations, they have been pretty good at following and respecting the rules.

Business at the cafe has also picked up since their take-out days, but overall it is still slow, according to Miller.

While most restaurants have opened their doors for dine-in, Lee’s Garden however is still offering take-away only.

“We are not sure when we will open for dine-in but we will keep monitoring the situation,” said Chau Ly of Lee Garden, adding that business has been good and they would want to open for dine-in, but they just want to ensure the safety of their staff and customers. Ly also said that she doesn’t yet have enough staff to fully open, so that has been another impediment for her to open the restaurant for dine-in.

Priyanka Ketkar
Multimedia journalist


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