March 25, 2020 Southlake, Texas
by: Editor Nelson Thibodeaux
It’s a beautiful day yet, the square at Southlake, once a bustling, vibrant area is a ghost town. Few cars fill the parking spaces and most businesses are shuttered, paper signs plastered to doors and windows alerting people to closures. Just a few weeks ago it was lively, the streets filled with cars and people enjoying a day at the square. But then Covid-19, the novel coronavirus came, reaching all aspects of American life. Retail and restaurants have been heavily affected, perhaps irrevocably. Mom-and-Pop, independent restaurants and retail shops are on the brink – attempting to adjust to the new way of life and doing business but struggling every day to make ends meet.
Among the now closed businesses in Southlake Town Square, there stands one small, independent restaurant, which for the past 20 years has been no stranger to the struggles of time. Rockfish, their doors still open, signs still lit, is a beacon. All those who walk through the door are greeted by their signature Indian statue and welcoming fishing lodge interior. For employees that work there, like Debra Hill, who has been at Rockfish for 20 years, “this is home, we’re a family.”
Still serving guests made from scratch meals, albeit through To Go orders packaged neatly in plastic bags, they are getting through this day-by day. “We’re doing everything we can to support our guests and our employees. The goal is the same that it has always been: serve our guests a made from scratch meal” says former chef-partner and current head of Rockfish, Mark Maddock. There’s no question that the current pandemic has affected all restaurants, Rockfish included, very deeply. There has been a massive decrease in consumer spending nationwide with restaurants, sales dropping 60-90% versus last year. Independent, local businesses like Rockfish are dependent solely on their communities to thrive.
Pivoting to curbside, pickup, and carryout, as well as Governor’s Abbot’s recent waiver to allow restaurants to sell bottled beer and wine at retail pricing has helped, but small local businesses like Rockfish need the support of their communities now more than ever.
For more information about Rockfish, including to place an order, call (817) 442-0131 or visit www.rockfish.com
Northeast Tarrant county has within it’s boundaries a robust and growing area. Colleyville, Southlake, Keller, Grapevine and other cites have been a major focus of large and small business alike throughout the period of vast growing population. These cities after all rank at the very top of income and the bottom in crime statistics.
We have become somewhat complacent and expectant with all the options available in our area while the growth curve continues upward. However, DANGER LURKS……….
Particularly, the VIRUS SCARE has folks sheltering in place without much personal inconvenience, except the great toilet paper, paper towel and bleach rush, and missing the frequent spa trips.
The businesses that appears to being kick in the teeth are the restaurants owned by independents and smaller chains.
Mayor Richard Newton of Colleyville spurred a program in Colleyville, where every home is receiving in the mail a $35 card from the City of Colleyville to be used at ANY business. The hope of course, is that the larger corporations can make it through the pandemic, but the smaller chains and individual owners get some help from the city to stay in business in Colleyville.
Colleyville with a smaller footprint than many other cities in the corridor, also intends to help the retailers, restaurants, retail stores etc. with an influx of some help from the city coffers.
Southlake, with a much bigger footprint has a much larger tax base and, as well, a larger number of independent business owners. One of these is a restaurant chain that has operated for 29 years, but is still owned by a smaller close knit group. Which brings the potential for citizens to have even a bigger impact on the bottom line when they frequent the small chains. Rockfish in the Southlake town center is on the well traveled State Street, with parking on the street and significant two way traffic. They don’t have a drive thru but are still serving fresh takeout food to their customers. This restaurant needs more attention, due to it’s unique location and small footprint.
The fact is, that without concentrated effort by citizens to make it a point to take the extra step to continue supporting these locations, even if it is somewhat inconvenient to do take out orders (or have them delivered by any number of companies now), we will must assuredly see closures. Starting with Rockfish and other smaller entities, without support they will have to fold the tent soon.
I encourage the support for the restaurants such at Belissimo’s, Mother Clucker Chicken, Honey Teriyaki, Costa Vida, IM burger (already closed) etc. I urge everyone in our corridor to not forget these smaller chains.