Restaurants

Mi Cocina’s Ray Washburne: ‘I’d Rather Not Open at All Than at 25 Percent.’ Except He Did.

It's tough out there in the restaurant business. But this flip-flop is tough to fathom.

Ray Washburne is an interesting fellow. Personally, I love the guy. He doesn’t take himself too seriously. He once owned an alternative weekly where I worked (meaning he does dumb things with his money, just like the rest of us). He married way above his station (same). And, obviously, he’s handsome.

But I’m having a hard time processing his recent business move. Washburne is a principal of M Crowd, the restaurant group that owns Mi Cocina and was named to President Trump’s Great American Economic Revival Industry Groups. Here is Washburne on Fox News last Thursday:

The money quote: “If you’re going to crawl to 25 percent — being the largest employer in the state of Texas is the restaurant business — and we just can’t go at something at 25 percent. The losses are going to mount for the entire industry. We’ve got to go bring employees on. We have to run 100 percent kitchen, 100 percent front of the house. And I applaud the governor for wanting to get the state back opened up, but at 25 percent the operational difficulties are immense for all of us. I’m like, you’re either all in or you’re not. If they choose not to open up, I’d rather not open at all than at 25 percent.”

Except I guess not really. Here’s Doug Deason, the guy on D Magazine’s May cover, eating at Mi Cocina and applauding Washburne for opening his 14 North Texas restaurants at 25 percent capacity.

I feel for every business owner, big and small, trying to navigate these impossible waters. The facts, though, are as follows: in North Texas, the numbers are still going up. Yesterday, we had 234 new cases, a huge jump from the previous week’s average of about 180. As County Judge Clay Jenkins has said: “The orders have changed but the science that will keep us safe has not.”

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