COVID-19 pandemic shuts down local entertainment culture, brings struggles for eatery owners

GEORGE+%7C+COFFEE+%2B+PROVISIONS+and+the+Cozby+Library+and+Community+Commons+are+only+two+of+the+many+local+eateries+and+facilities+impacted+by+the+City+of+Coppell+and+Dallas+county%E2%80%99s+regulations+to+combat+the+coronavirus+%28COVID-19%29.+The+new+restrictions+include+the+closure+of+citywide+facilities%2C+the+cancelation+of+large+events+and+the+minimization+of+restaurant+services.

Tracy Tran

GEORGE | COFFEE + PROVISIONS and the Cozby Library and Community Commons are only two of the many local eateries and facilities impacted by the City of Coppell and Dallas county’s regulations to combat the coronavirus (COVID-19). The new restrictions include the closure of citywide facilities, the cancelation of large events and the minimization of restaurant services.

By Shravya Mahesh, Coppell High School

With coronavirus (COVID-19) cases growing nationally and locally, Dallas County and the City of Coppell have mandated numerous closures, cancelations and modifications to entertainment-related activities and locales.

On Wednesday, Dallas County issued an amended order stating that no recreational gatherings of more than 10 people may take place and that all restaurants must offer only delivery, drive-through or takeout services. The Coppell City Council approved this measure, but adapted the restrictions to extend through April 28.

In order to comply, the city has closed numerous facilities, including the Cozby Library and Community Commons. Though the Andrew Brown Parks and trails are open, all restrooms, playgrounds, fountains and the dog park are closed, as they cannot regularly be sanitized. Nearby malls and arcades are also closed for the time being.

The precautions include the cancellation of numerous upcoming events and activities. Coppell High School events within this time period, such as theater productions and choir concerts, cannot take place. All library activities have been cancelled, including the CozbyCon scheduled for April 18, as have all city spring events, including Food Truck Frenzy and the Grand Opening of the Arts Center.

“This was a very hard decision for the team here to make, but at the end of the day, it’s all about safety,” Coppell Arts Center managing director Alex Hargis said in a Facebook video update yesterday. “We want to make sure that we are doing our part to keep everyone safe.”

Due to the uncertainty of the current situation, nothing has been decided yet regarding potential postponings or new dates for these events. However, the Arts Center team plans to reboot the celebrations whenever the situation improves.

Though restaurants and cafes are still permitted to service customers remotely, many are struggling to keep afloat amidst falling business and low customer turnouts. With social distancing and self-quarantines holding back customers, many restaurants face unprecedented difficulties.

At Asian-Fusion restaurant Pan Acean, the shortage of sales has been extreme, the total income volume shrinking by 80%. The lack of money has forced owner Youn Lee to make difficult decisions, letting go of employees.

“The workers working with me [are] like family,” Lee said. “I’m running a small restaurant so we [are] like family here. And then you have to let them go, because you cannot pay them. That’s very, very emotionally stressful.”

Such issues hold true for restaurant American Tea + Coffee too, where the sales have dipped, bringing forth a plethora of other issues.

“We’ve got staffing issues,” American Tea + Coffee owner Randy Truesdell said. “We can’t maintain our staffing levels unless we have the business to support it. And then we have to consider any additional costs to change any procedures. So we just take it day-by-day.”

In order to make up for the difference, American Tea + Coffee is considering adding a variety of services to gain traction, such as curbside delivery or home delivery as additions to pre-existing call-in deliveries and walk-in pickup.

However, for many eatery owners, the virus’ elimination would be the most ideal solution.

“Hopefully I can open back up the dining, but it’s all up to how the virus goes,” Lee said. “I don’t think we can keep this restaurant open if it goes over two months.”

A loyal customer base, though small in current circumstances, allows for businesses to keep up some hope for better times to come.

“We’re just grateful for the people that do come in,” Truesdell said. “We have some support from the community and we’re very, very grateful for that.”

For frequent updates and full lists of closures, visit the City of Coppell website.

This story was originally published on Coppell Student Media on March 20, 2020.