News

Statement from TRA CEO Emily Williams Knight

Mar 13
2020

Members, partners, and fans of restaurants –

The health and safety of your employees, guests, and community are always a priority, and as we monitor the current public health situation, our prayers go out to those affected by COVID-19. Updates are changing rapidly, and our collective response needs to be tempered with calm, common sense, and a focus on everyone’s safety.

Today, Governor Greg Abbott declared a disaster for the entire State of Texas in order to activate and mobilize support for our citizens. He also reported that there are currently 39 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Texas.

We are seeing the initial economic impact to the Texas restaurant industry as COVID-19, now a pandemic, impacts tourism, events, and dining out. Many of our members are feeling a sense of frustration and helplessness due to intense media coverage and speculation about what could happen next.

The Texas Restaurant Association is committed to providing our members with resources and opportunities to help manage elements within our control. We are your voice and stand together with you in these challenging times. We will continue to update a resource page on our website and mobile app with information and relevant updates from the CDC and Texas health officials. In collaboration with the National Restaurant Association, we are encouraging restaurant operators to attend a free webinar on March 19 about employment law challenges and obligations in relation to the coronavirus pandemic.

We’re using all our communication channels (email, social, and the members-only mobile app) to provide free tools for our industry, including FAQ and briefing posters in English and Spanish, sample language to use in communication with your guests and employees, advice on contracts and force majeure clauses, and lists of chemical products approved to fight the coronavirus.

We have been asked many times in recent days; how can we help our industry in this time of need. With the help of our partners, we are sharing the message that Texas restaurants are open for business. For all of us, that means visiting local restaurants, buying gift cards, and ordering to-go meals for our families. We also encourage those who are able to please donate to Southern Smoke’s relief fund. They have the capability to evaluate need and distribute aid to anyone who works in the food and beverage supply chain, including owners.

Finally, we are working closely with our state restaurant association partners across the U.S. to find relief for our independent restaurants. Grub Hub waving commissions for independents is an example of the supply chain working together to reduce even a little of the burden.

Please continue to take an active role in keeping your guests and employees safe. Review your sanitation and safety practices and keep your community updated with your commitment to protection. The risk is currently low, and we all want to keep it that way.

We are your voice and we are here by your side. Restaurants are the heart of every community and are always among the first to step-up in a crisis. We are experiencing a crisis, but we will pull together, and we will get through this. We are 50,000 restaurants strong and the Texas Restaurant Association will continue to lead all of you through this crisis and stand by your side as we navigate the coming weeks and months.

 

Sincerely,
Emily Williams Knight
President & CEO
Texas Restaurant Association and Education Foundation

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