Restaurants relying on to-go services, charitable donations during pandemic

HOUSTON – A sign hanging above one popular sit-down restaurant says it all: “You can treat us like a drive thru."

Owner Chris Shepherd, is hoping the community will step up not only through to-go orders, but through his foundation, Southern Smoke, a relief fund for the restaurant industry.

“Just getting the word out and getting donations coming in is what’s going to help our industry,” Shepherd said.

The Texans Foundation donated $50,000 to Southern Smoke and it is much needed. Shepherd said he has a record number of applicants in wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“During Harvey, we had 400 applications come in. As of right now, we’ve had 3,500 come in," Shepherd said.

And believe it or not, restaurant owners are saying this could be worse on their industry than Hurricane Harvey.

“While that was terrible, we at least had an idea of how to rebuild,” said Theodore Rex, owner Justin Yu.

“At least you saw the end, you saw the waters recede. Here, we can’t see waters recede. We have no idea," Shepherd said.