Over the past two months, Dallas has seen a truly immense amount of rainfall, and the nonstop pouring is putting a damper on pretty much everything, including restaurant patronage.
Jon Alexis, owner of Malibu Poke and TJ’s Seafood Market & Grill, took to Facebook today to urge customers to make it out to their favorite restaurants despite the pretty much constant downpours. “Your favorite restaurants are getting straight MURDERED right now. Our landlords charge rent even when it’s raining,” he writes in part. “But also [consider] the hard working staff who get sent home if we don’t have enough customers. Their landlords charge them rent on rainy days too.”
Both September and October have brought a near-constant deluge of precipitation, causing a conundrum that Alexis and other restaurateurs in Dallas don’t quite know how to fix. “It affects some places more than others,” says Chris Zielke, owner of Bolsa, Smoke, Chicken Scratch, and partner in the Statler Hotel’s dining destinations. “At Chicken Scratch and the Foundry, every time it rains our business goes down 50 percent.” And as far as the Statler’s rooftop pool bar? “Every weekend that it rains, Waterproof gets devastated,” he says. “Places that are dependent on the outdoors have suffered.”
Even for primarily-indoor establishments like Bolsa, Zielke tells Eater that people just don’t want to drive in the rain. Alexis agrees. “We like our malls and our movie theaters,” he says. “We’ve insulated ourselves from our summers, we’re used to living hermetically sealed lives.”
Zielke’s answer is an increased focus on weather-proofing, making outdoor spaces at his restaurants more comfortable for diners. He’s added tents to the Foundry and Chicken Scratch’s large outdoor yard. Alexis, who operates two indoor concepts says food and beverage purveyors have to adapt menus to the changing climate. “In the hospitality industry it’s our job to anticipate guests’ needs,” Alexis says. “Think about what the customer wants, make sure the AC isn’t blowing, have a nice hot soup.” That includes spicy and hearty fish options for the poke and some new fall and winter menu items like a steamy bowl of miso soup. Alexis also has the gumbos and chowders out in full-effect at TJ’s Seafood.
“By talking about it you are helping fix it,” he says, athough Alexis and Zielke urge patrons not to order in via a third-party delivery service and think that it’s helping the restaurant. “The delivery services are unsustainable,” says Alexis. “With their 30 percent commission, sometimes I make more money if they hadn’t placed the order.”
“You can’t fight mother nature,” Zielke says, but “hopefully people are getting sick of sitting at home.”