Houston area restaurant owners say customers are swiping toilet paper, sanitizer

HOUSTON – As fears about Coronavirus grow, the number of customers at some Houston area businesses are shrinking. But in some cases, so is the supply of hand sanitizers and even toilet paper.

“I had an emergency delivery this morning because we were out,” said Rich Andrews, the owner of Potatoe Patch.

At first, Andrews noticed the dwindling supply of small hand sanitizer bottles that he had placed throughout the restaurant. He started with 50.

“That’s the only one they didn’t steal!” Andrews said, pointing to a large bottle on the front counter. “It won’t fit in a purse. That’s the one one I have left.”

He then realized the small antibacterial hand soaps he bought for the bathrooms were also gone. His supplier then suggested he check the toilet paper.

“I go and start looking at that and I’m like, wow...there’s no toilet paper in the bathrooms!” Andrews said.

On Friday, the restaurant got a fresh shipment of 80 rolls which usually lasts a week and a half. But by Saturday, Andrews said there were only 12 left.

“I was just kinda stunned,” Andrews said. “It took a little bit to process, so people are really taking this stuff and putting it in their purses?”

Andrews posted his discovery to a Facebook page for local restaurant owners and managers.

“Everybody started checking their stuff, and there was a lot of people that were like, ‘Wow, they’re right,’” Andrews said.

Palava Family Entertainment owner Chantal Cashi reported having 20 bottles of hand sanitizer on Friday and only five by the weekend. There were no empty bottles in the trash.

“We do have enough supplies but things like hand sanitizer and antibacterial soaps have become very hard to find,” Cashi said. “We usually purchase our supplies from our local food suppliers, Costco, HEB, or Amazon but daily we are finding they have sold out."

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