SUGAR LAND – When the pandemic hit, the restaurant industry was forced to figure out how to manage a drastic change in operations and guest flow.
Many restaurants found a silver lining and ray of hope with outdoor dining.
One local restaurant chain worked hard to adapt, giving their guests quality service and outdoor options, allowing them to not just survive, but also thrive.
When the pandemic reared its ugly head, restaurant businesses were among many that faced uncertainty.
“There were a lot of concerns and it was very intimidating at the beginning. Nobody had ever been through anything like this,” Patrick Bigby, The Rouxpour Restaurant Group Regional Manager, said.
For many businesses like The Rouxpour Restaurant Group, “figuring it out” was their only option.
“Our food has always been focused on the inside. We had to switch to the outside and delivering. The first two months was like a crash course,” Bigby said.
Like seasoned entrepreneurs, the owners of the Rouxpour Restaurant Group, Mack and McDonald, and their teams adapted, placing their faith in focusing on outdoor dining at their Sugar Land location, especially.
“Added more chairs, more tables, more seating,” Bigby said. “Our owner Mack McDonald and his wife Tan McDonald, they were very instrumental in this whole piece, and we put together systems.”
Regulars who have been supporting the business for years liked the patio.
“Everybody loves to sit outside when it’s nice. It’s a little chilly right now,” Bubb DeCrosta said.
And, newcomers still poured in.
“I still want to be safe and feel safe, so having the option to go outside adds great value onto the restaurant,” Madison Baham said.
Dining outdoors provided the rays of sunshine that produced the fruits of the team’s labor.
“Last year was amazing [for business],” Bigby said. “We learned how to adapt. We stuck to our guns and it was one of those things where we were blessed.”
In 2021, business was up 40% compared to pre-pandemic years’ unprecedented growth.
“We’re actually in the process of expanding,” Bigby said.
Turning the outside area into a patio with 130 outdoor seats. The group is renovating the space next door and expanding the outdoor seating with the help of a $75,000 agreement with the city of Sugar Land.
“There will be hardcover from here all the way to the railing,” Bigby said while pointing to the currently uncovered existing patio.
The ultimate goal, he said, is to produce good food, service and hope.
“[Outdoor dining] was very instrumental,” Bigby said. “People wanted to feel safe.”