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To say it was a tough year for restaurants sums it up hysterically. After a year of transitioning to COVID-19 mandates and everything that went with it, finally seeing a glimmer of hope in the vaccine roll out, only to be hit by a weather event of historic proportions, which included the loss of business on Valentine’s Day and Fat Tuesday belonged to Last year was a sucker.
Now diners are trying again to focus on performing CPR in their fragile businesses, with things in their homes and communities in mind.
Fork in Road’s head chef and owner Josh Hopkins opened his small restaurant in central Arlington about seven years ago. He worked in big kitchens like Charlie Palmers, Goodfriends and Cock & Bull, but an independent phase drove him to open his own place.
Last week when the temperature dropped to single digits, he drove slowly to his restaurant to check. The water was gone; possible frozen pipes. Worst of all, due to prolonged power outages, he lost all perishable goods in two walk-ins. Trucks couldn’t cross the streets with new supplies. Then Arlington issued a cooking note on Wednesday, which meant he couldn’t have opened up to serve his community even if he wanted to.
“It was very exhausting for us to go from eight to three employees when COVID hit,” said Hopkins. “I work more than 80 hours a week. My wife Sonya and I have done everything we can to keep going.”
He hopes to reopen on Tuesday (Feb. 23) while waiting for a water pipe to be repaired. Then he needs two days of preparation in order to replenish the essentials for his menu from scratch.
Not far from Fork in the Road, Dinos Subs in Arlington, a long-time local favorite, also lost electricity and everything in their fridges for two days. A personal family friend started a GoFundMe page to help make up for losses. By Friday afternoon they had raised nearly $ 5,000.
The Homewood Restaurant, Chef Matt McCallister’s Uptown restaurant, had a broken pipe. From their Facebook page:
“This week has been tough, damn it, the past 11 months have been tough. We fixed our broken pipe yesterday and we have partial running water (some hot water pipes working and others that we think are still frozen) we will be back but we still have to cook for you next week !!
Since we cured all of our halibut slightly and cured all of these oysters slightly / smoked heavily
We’re going to be making a huge batch of smoked oyster and halibut chowder and giving them away to anyone who wants a liter of delicious chowder today!
The details? Roll through Homewood between 3pm and 3pm today and stop near the front door. We’ll come out and give you a liter. ”
The chowder was gone in a few minutes, of course.
With inventory spoilage, in addition to lost sales including the usually lucrative Valentine’s Day and repairs, losses will be painful. An owner estimated last week they easily cost $ 10,000.
Dino Santonicola from Partenope Ristorante lost neither electricity nor water in his restaurant in downtown Dallas, both at home. He and his wife and two children slept in their car for two nights. “The first hour without heat, you’re fine, it’s not that bad, but like the fifth hour, you can’t even think clearly anymore. ”
Although the restaurant was functional, Santonicola stayed closed for most of the week, concerned for his family and other employees.
Dino Santonicola at his Partenope restaurant in downtown Dallas last week made the difficult (yet easy) decision of putting safety and family above business.
Lauren Drewes Daniels
“Sometimes the best choice is the difficult one,” he says. “Yes, I lost some money, but I couldn’t concentrate on my children at home without electricity or water. And the roads were so bad. Honestly how can I ask my boys to come to work too? We are healthy and we have been careful and that is what matters. ”
Santonicola saw a boom in business on Friday as downtown hotels were full, which it did in about a year. A small ray of hope.
Just like if your fingers are exposed to freezing temperatures for too long, thawing is more painful than freezing. But if there’s one thing restaurant owners have learned over the past year, it’s persistence.
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