By Dorothy Puch Lillig

The owner of The Branch in the Spring Branch District summed it up best: “Life turns on a dime, Branchachos.”

Just last week, on March 9, Kyle Pierson announced he was closing his establishment at 7710 Long Point Road every Monday to bring a group to Houston’s Chinatown for dinner as a show of support for restaurants there who were the first to suffer from lack of business due to the spread of the Coronavirus, which has now become a pandemic.

By this past Monday, March 16, Pierson was revising the plan to go on his own, as by then organizing a group wasn’t prudent anymore, and encouraging others to also go out on their own to support local businesses impacted by the virus.

“I kept it local and went to Pho Luc Lac (9457 Kempwood Dr.) for lunch. I was the only one there. Left a fat tip,” Pierson posted on social media.

The very next day, Pierson’s business was among those impacted as all restaurants and businesses in Harris County were ordered to stop offering sit-down service starting on March 17. Restaurants are only allowed to serve take-out, delivery or drive-thru meals for at least 15 days to curb the spread of the virus.

“Today was our first day doing 100% take out service and, I admit, it was a little rough,” Pierson posted. “Shifting over to a completely new business model is gonna have a few issues. And while far from being totally discombobulated, things certainly weren’t combobulated.”

Like The Branch, all Spring Branch District bars and restaurants have been scrambling this week to adjust to the constantly changing health crisis. Some, like Might As Well Lounge and Boozenasium, 8518 Long Point Rd., and Warehouse 72 and Hugh O’Connors at the Marq’E Centre announced they would be closing for the duration of the order.

Warehouse 72, upon closing, delivered a truckload of food to C.H.A.R.M. Prison Ministry, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization in Houston.

4J Brewing is offering to-go growler fills, along with selling gift cards and merchandise at their website: 4jbrewingcompany.com.

The family-owned business was planning to celebrate their anniversary this week.

“Not exactly how we were planning on spending our 2nd anniversary but we are ready to tackle whatever is thrown at us,” they posted.

Tapioca Place, 10226 Hammerly Blvd., announced “grab and go” Vietnamese coffee. Polonia Restaurant, 1780 Blalock Rd., Pollo Bravo, 10085 Long Point Rd., Sabor y Sazon, 9401 Clay Rd., and Spring Branch Burger Shack, 1900 Blalock Rd., also all posted they were offering to-go food. Many area restaurants also offer delivery through Uber Eats, DoorDash and Grubhub. Some of those delivery services have waived fees for the restaurants during this time.

Pampa Grill, 10111 Hammerly Blvd., was offering free delivery within five miles of their restaurant.

Magnol French Baking, 1500 N Post Oak Rd., has kept their bakery open but modified hours and is enforcing a “one guest/family in the store at a time” rule. Customers also have the option of calling and completing their transaction from their car while bakery employees bring out their items wearing gloves and keeping back at a respectful distance.

“We are humbled and very grateful for the amount of support shown over the last few days. If anything, we would like to offer a little bit of normalcy and continued community service during this situation that we are currently living through,” Magnol posted.

Cascabel, a vegan Mexican restaurant recently opened at 1415 Murray Bay St., was planning their grand opening celebration when the pandemic hit. Luckily, they were planning to roll out their online ordering system for the grand opening as well: www.toasttab.com

Like other restaurants, they said they were immensely grateful for the support of the community during this time.

“Just like Cascabel, many other of your fav restaurants, bars, clubs are going through it,” the owners posted on Instagram. “You have no idea what a simple ‘Sending you guys all the hugs’ does for us. Thank you Houston.”

Check online or call your favorite Spring Branch area bars and eateries to see if they are offering take-out, delivery or gift cards.

And here are some tips on how to safely support your favorite Spring Branch District restaurant or bar:

  • If the business offers in-house delivery, try to go through them rather than through apps.
  • If you are sick or someone in your family is sick, please choose delivery over pick up.
  • If you opt to go with picking up from a restaurant, avoid busy hours when there will be more people waiting with you. Maintain a safe distance from others picking up (six feet is recommended). Wait outside if you can.
  • Request “contactless” delivery if possible, where the delivery person leaves the items for you at a designated spot for you to get after he or she leaves.
  • Immediately throw away all packaging that comes with your food.
  • Disinfect the surfaces in your home the packaging materials may come into contact with.
  • Before touching your food, wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • To avoid all contact, order an e-gift card or call in an order for a gift card to be used at a later date.
  • Call your favorite restaurant or bar to find out the best way to support them at this time.
  • Leave a great review for your favorite restaurant online.
  • Tip generously!