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Restaurant & Bar Updates

Well, It Looks Like Dallas Restaurants Are Adjusting to Omicron

Kicking off 2022 with some familiar pandemic challenges. Here’s how a few restaurants are handling omicron.
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Exterior of Resident Taqueria
Resident Taqueria and its outdoor dining setup circa early 2020, mind you. Rosin Saez

If you’re sensing a bit of deja vu heading into 2022, you’re not alone. As the omicron variant of COVID surges, some Dallas restaurants and bars are taking steps to reduce its already rapid spread.

We’ve been here before: high community transmission leads to sick staff and a temporary closure. The silver lining is that we have more experience and a few more tools—get boosted!—in our toolbox to handle it. Not thrive, per se, but enough for many businesses to survive and go on another day.

Sandwich Hag has been COVID-cognizant from the beginning. It helps that the order-at-the-window setup has never had indoor seating. Recently, owner Reyna Duong gave her space in the Cedars a refresh: more protection from winter winds and communal long tables have been split up to allow for more distance. Now you can eat bánh mì and cà ri (it’s coconut curry season, folks!) without the full blast of a 15 mph wind.

Meanwhile, in Bishop Arts, Dude, Sweet Chocolate has adjusted its hours “in an abundance of safety,” says an Instagram post. It will be open from noon until 6 p.m. for online pickup orders or for masked-up visitors who want to shop inside.

In Northeast Dallas, Andrew Savoie put Resident Taqueria on a holiday break until January 11. This is usually when they take a breather each year, but it happens to be a good time as cases increase. When it reopens, indoor dining will remain temporarily closed. (It shut the door to the public last month after an employee tested positive for COVID.) Taco-seekers can eat outdoors or get their orders to-go. After the hiatus, Savoie hopes to be as ready as possible for whatever 2022 will bring.

I’m starting to think this week: What am I doing for my model this year? What is Resident Taqueria anymore?” Savoie says. “It isn’t a taqueria. It just isn’t. It is not what I created six years ago. Here I am playing the takeout game.” He needs to strike that balance of being pandemic-nimble but still exciting, both for diners and his employees. “I know what I need to do to survive,” he says, “but I need to make sure my staff is onboard.”

He doesn’t want to overwork his already overworked staff, for one. “I’m already low-staffed … I’ve been looking for people for two and half months. I’ve gotten one application.” Savoie also understands that many of his employees need to stay engaged. “It’s not about me anymore, it’s about my family, my employees. I can adjust, I can have fun. But really it’s about my team … I want them be intrigued. I want them to get paid.”

And he wants them to stay safe. Savoie will talk with his crew about what they want to do moving forward. As Resident Taqueria gets back next week, Savoie offers an inconclusive picture: “I don’t know, we may change, we may not change.”

We’ll have to wait and see.

Although January tends to be a quiet month considering all of the shopping and socializing in December, now is not the time to let up. Local businesses still need diners—as they tinker and adjust and prep for the weird road ahead—to get through this ongoing and tremendously hard pandemic. We may have a bit of normalcy during the holidays, but nothing is guaranteed.

I think we can anticipate more restaurants and bars to temporarily close until omicron dies down.

By now, we should know that 2022 can bring us anything. And “normal” is a word best left loosely defined until further notice.

Editor’s note: Since this article published, Tei-An announced it would close until January 11 after an employee tested positive for COVID. And Dallas Morning News (paywall) published an article about an Oak Lawn bar, Alexandre’s, that will be closed through the month of January for the same reason as Tei-An.

Author

Rosin Saez

Rosin Saez

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Rosin Saez is the online dining editor for D Magazine's food blog SideDish. She hails from Seattle, Washington, where she…

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