Opinion: With Devastating Floods, Houston Restaurants & Bars Should Only Open For The Right Reasons
From editor Phaedra Cook with additions by Josh Armendariz:
In light of the unprecedented, devastating flooding occurring across Houston and the surrounding areas, business owners need to take a strictly conscientious approach to whether or not to be open.
Here are good reasons to be open:
- To help the surrounding community—your immediate neighbors—and take care of basic needs: food, drink, a dry place to rest, charge phones and provide access to a clean restroom.
- The restaurant or bar is not touched by floodwaters
- The ability to maintain sanitary conditions as required by law is intact
- Owners are working performing work themselves and not trying to force employees to come in
Here is a bad reason to be open: money. This is not the time to attempt to draw diners out of their homes with some kind of promotion or special in an attempt to make a profit. Today (Sunday, August 27), you will not have enough customers for that to happen, so forget it.
Houston is a rich city, full of fantastic businesses propped up by their communities. Encouraging patrons to put themselves in danger because the competition is closed is a terrible maneuver.
In addition, trying to force employees—many of whom do not make much money or have insurance benefits—is flat-out wrong. Last night, many restaurant and bar workers found themselves stranded with flooded vehicles. Some walked home in waist-deep floodwaters, risking contact with snakes, fire ants, sewage and God knows what else. Some made it home, but it took hours or even all night to get there.
If you are opening in the spirit of helping your community—and are doing it safely—we applaud your efforts.
Don’t open for any other reason and needlessly endanger others. Do not punish employees for valuing family over employer. If no other reason will motivate you, perhaps this one will: people will remember what you did, and why.