Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) recently lifted his mask mandate, allowing all businesses to open up to 100% capacity despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. President Biden was not a fan of Abbott’s announcement and went so far as to call the decision “Neanderthal thinking. “Despite the commander – in – chief’s harsh criticism, the news was met with great fanfare from restaurant owners in Lone Star State, including Dickey’s Barbecue Pit. CEO Laura Rea Dickey joined Yahoo Finance Live to break down what termination of office means for Texas companies.
“We are ecstatic to invite guests back to our dining rooms. It has worked for us in Florida. We have over 526 locations in 44 states. And so we are very excited to add this extra capacity to our 160 locations in Texas, ”she said.
Dickey tells Yahoo Finance that restaurant staff will still have PPE equipment available while they work.
“We are Dallas-based, and for us, our pit crew members remain in masks, and they will still have personal protective equipment for our people who serve our guests. But we are opening up capacity and we are following what the local rules are. And then we open 100% and guests can come in and have dinner with us when they are feeling well. ”
To own and operate a restaurant during a pandemic is no easy task. Dickey shared with Yahoo Finance some of the strategies that have served the restaurant chain well in the age of COVID.
“It is a communication absolutely. It’s about transparency, both with our guests and with our people inside the restaurant. We started last March a year ago, literally without knowing anything more than anyone else did, but the one thing we knew was, you know, this brand does not go down on my watch. And then we have been around for 80 years and we find a way. And that really meant first and foremost talking to all our people and going, here’s how we need to adapt. Here’s how well we adjust our menu, how we respond to supply lines, lack, how we just make sure we’re there for our guests. It may look a little different. And then we brought the company back. ”
Dickey’s locations in Florida have been open for capacity since the fall. Dickey tells Yahoo Finance that the experience serves as a guide to moving forward in other areas.
“The 19 locations we have in the state of Florida have been open with capacity since the fall. So we have experienced and have a transition plan to make our pit crews ready to see more people in our dining rooms, but that is actually not a huge degree of change for us. It is a difference in degree rather than a difference in nature. “
Another strategy that Dickey had used was to drop their traditional buffet service option and implement a “Let’s get it-for-you” policy to follow best health practices.
“What I do know is that some things are here, and they are here to be seen from a change point of view. I do not think we will go back to full buffets. … You can still have a great restaurant experience. You can still have hospitality. You can still have the common point of contact. It’s … gathering around a table and celebrating great moments, but we do it a little differently. I think these habits have forever adapted, but I think you will see dining rooms back to full capacity. ”
Reggie Wade is the author of Yahoo Finance. Follow him on Twitter at @ReggieWade.