Due to the pandemic affecting every aspect of society, the usual food news is indefinitely on hold. So today’s edition of News Bites, again for the fifth week in a row, will cover what’s relevant to Dallas dining right now.
As I wrote in last week’s News Bites, what happens now may very well determine what the future of Dallas dining looks like. In the last five weeks, several restaurants pivoted to delivery, takeout, impromptu marketplace pop-ups, family meal kit purveyors, or any combination thereof. While it’s heartening to see businesses get gritty and creative, all of that energy is hard to sustain. It’s already taken a toll on so many restaurants.
Early on, restaurants like Lucia and Macellaio closed to assess how to run a takeout operation that’s still a safe work environment for employees. Other restaurants are closing, either due to the financial pinch or with the safety of their workers in mind, or a little bit of both.
We’ve seen so many people, organizations, and newly-formed nonprofits step up to help the industry. That’s still important and I have no doubt the community will continue to do so for as long as it’s able. But Texas’ food service industry accounts for 1.3 million jobs. That’s huge, and it requires help of equal proportions.
Restaurants Are Closing. Some May Come Back and Some Might Not.
I don’t want to sugarcoat the situation. The truth is we don’t know whether the industry will recover. As D Magazine’s Eve Hill-Agnus reported this week, Khao Noodle Shop, one of Dallas’ most recently celebrated restaurants, is closing on Saturday. Khao tried takeout but it’s hardly sustainable, both financially and mentally. Chef-owner Donny Sirisavath tells D that he plans on using this time to offer prepackaged food items for takeaway in addition to snacks.
And Sirisavath’s certainly not alone in making the hard decision to close. Gems like Ten Bells Tavern closed and launched a fundraiser to cover its basic costs. Dallas Morning News also covered about Khao’s closure and noted at least 10 other closed restaurants at the end of that article.
Financial Aid Is Slowly Coming
On Monday, a press release from Gov. Greg Abbott’s office stated that $50 million in loans will be issued to small businesses in Texas. Those loans, says the governor, will either be partially or entirely forgiven if certain as-of-yet unreleased stipulations are met. While the idea of loans and the prospect of incurring more debt seems perhaps counterintuitive, the release says the loans “made through the U.S. Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), will primarily be used for payroll so that employees can continue to receive paychecks and small businesses can retain their employees.”
Plano-based Bellagreen, which has locations through the state, is an early recipient of the Payroll Protection Program loan, and it reopened its Park and Preston outpost today. So the relief in the form of loans seem to slowly be trickling in. Stay tuned to SideDish as we cover this story in more depth. And if you’re a woman-owned business, you can apply for Texas Woman’s University’s AssistHer Emergency Relief Grant for $10,000. Details here.
In Somewhat Sunnier News: Tales of the Cocktail Nominations Announced
The prestigious, NOLA-based cocktail foundation (like the James Beard Awards but for bars) announced the nominees for its 14th annual awards for professionals in the spirits industry. There are top 10 honorees in various regional categories, though there were many two- and sometimes three-way ties this year. And this year, for the fifth time in a row, Dallas has one lone nominee: Midnight Rambler. In case you missed it, Headington Companies furloughed and laid off hundred of employees, both last month and this month. But, hey, some national recognition for the bar scene is a nice silver lining in these odd times. Right?
The bar downtown is currently closed and technically has two remaining employees, one of whom half-jokingly laments, “Five years in a row and no wins!” While it’s another always-the-bridesmaid scenario this year, “obviously dozens of others had everything to do with what made the bar what it is…was.”
Catch Me, Your Humble Dining Editor, on Instagram
Last week, I took over D Magazine‘s Instagram stories. All of the editors are getting better acquainted with the social media platform so we can bring our stories and expertise directly to you. (It also gives me a reason to comb my hair.) Each day an editor will get on Instagram Live and you can find me there on Thursdays at 4 p.m. This Thursday, April 16, I’ll be talking to Las Palmas beverage director Ian Smith as he walks us through a cocktail demo. Tune in!
Meanwhile on D Magazine
The takeout and delivery list lives on. We’re trying to keep track of restaurants that quietly shutter, but tips are appreciated. If you see a place that’s closed, either temporarily or perhaps more permanently, please drop me a line.
Kathy Wise went to a virtual concert and made cookies, aka she is living the life. Here’s her recipe.
Four Corners Brewing Company made a taco map. What a taco emoji-filled gift.
Or, if you’re craving sushi, we’ve got a list for that too.
With much fewer restaurants to sell to, farmers and ranchers are depending on us to buy fresh products from them directly.
Tim Rogers says this is the best T-shirt in Dallas right now.
Opened in January, Lochland’s represents that quintessential neighborhood amenity…a sanctuary of unpretentious but satisfying food and drink. Even if that means, right now, takeout.