HEDWIG VILLAGE – A Hedwig Village restaurant is defying state and county orders by offering a dine-in option. Although it was by reservation only, the Federal American Grill is open for business.
"We're trying to help open the economy, trying to get people back to work in the safest manner possible," said owner Matt Brice. "In my mind, there's no reason for us to be closed when other operations are open."
Brice said he had opened the restaurant a few weeks before the orders went into place amid COVID-19. He said he is expanding services while keeping safety measures in mind. New safety precautions include disposal paper menus and reduce dine-in capacity.
"We have sanitation buckets everywhere. We have social distancing," said Brice.
Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo responded to businesses considering to deny the county's orders.
"You know it's just sad," she said. "It is so sad because this is about safety. And it is also dangerous; in that sense, it's sad."
Still, many customers and even a Houston city councilman showed up to support the restaurant's move.
"Sometimes, civil disobedience is required to move things forward. That's why we remember Rosa Parks." Houston At-Large Council Member Michael Kubosh said.
"I was in a grocery store today, and I was in a Sam's Club today, and based on what I just saw here, this is safer than both of them," said restaurateur and customer Phillip Torres.
Brice said he is not trying to break any laws and is supported by many Hedwig Village officials. He said he is working to keep people afloat.
“We have to get this economy back going. We have to get people back to work,” Brice said.
NAACP Houston releases a written statement on Sunday, April 26 in response to the Houston City Councilmember Michael Kubosh comments:
Recent statements by Houston City Councilmember Michael Kubosh have deeply grieved the hearts and offended many African Americans. Others who are sensitive to the history of African Americans in this country are also disturbed. Even though 1619 is often given as the date of arrival of the first African slaves in what is now the United States of America, history tells us there were actually African slaves in this country as early as the 1500’s. No matter which one of these dates you believe to be true, we do know that the American slaves from Africa and their descendants remained in bondage in this country for over 200 years. It was not until President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863, which stated “that all persons held as slaves within the rebellious states are and henceforward shall be free”. The Emancipation was just another step towards freedom and equality on the long road to full participation of African Americans in this society.