Restaurateur Bobby Heugel (Anvil Bar & Refuge, Squable, Better Luck Tomorrow) is one of the more outspoken and active industry leaders in Houston. So it's no surprise that on Wednesday, he penned a letter that Texas food and beverage professionals can send to Gov Greg Abbott asking for help during the potential spread of novel coronavirus COVID-19.
The letter, which can be viewed here, asks Abbott to waive tax payments due Friday across the state for both February sales and mixed beverage receipts. Further, Heugel is asking Abbott to negotiate rent and mortgage relief for owners and operators, and to suspend government mandates set to come into effect over the next two months.
"Working in the hospitality industry is a career choice with a unique skill set we have refined and relied on throughout our lives," the letter reads. "We need to be able to return to our jobs so we can continue to use our professional skills to support our families and ourselves.
Heugel wants anyone interested in supporting the letter to call Gov Abbott's office and leave a voicemail voicing the talking points in the letter.
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I wrote this sample letter for you for Texas Governor @govabbott. Send him this letter or your version of it at - email him or use this form- https://gov.texas.gov/apps/contact/opinion.aspx - RIGHT NOW. <<<GET MY LETTER LINK & TEXT IN MY BIO>>> Then, call him at 1-800-843-5789 and tell him the same. Don’t have time for this shit. Nah, you’re wrong – there’s an answering machine with no wait. You have 3 fucking minutes. Our TX industry employs 1.4 Million, not to mention all our guests. Break this fucking answering service! TODAY. NOT tomorrow, TODAY. Taxes are due Friday. MAKE A DIFFERENCE RIGHT NOW. Don’t live in Texas? Use all of this anyway for your own State – it translates. Next, post on every single social media platform that you can. USE YOUR OWN UNIQUE VOICE – THAT’S CRITICAL. Then, text every person you know and tell them how easy this is. Text the laid-off, depressed bartender you worked Wednesday nights with – tell them to get off their asses and pick up the damn phone. That shitty cook who always ran long ticket times? Tell that fucker he can take 35 fucking minutes to cook up this political meal, but he has to get it out TODAY. Use your shitty kitchen Spanish that should have been better by now and reach out to every member of your staff. (Somebody translate this into Spanish & DM me - DONE!). Post this on Facebook. Dust off that useless Twitter account. Tag your Governor, State Senator, State Representative, and Mayor every single time. And tomorrow? Do this shit all over again. First time you’ve engaged in something politically? Welcome to the team. Know this- you can’t UberEats some change. But, you are part of one of the strongest industries in the US. Our max ability to pressure govt has never been tested; we’re going to answer that call. THERE IS NOT A SINGLE US INDUSTRY THAT HAS THE ABILITY TO IMMEDIATELY REACH MORE CONSTITUENTS THAN US. We do this professionally to sell food and drinks; time to use those skills in another way. Use every single outlet you have to support this movement. Use every restaurant and bar Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter account. And do it RIGHT FUCKING NOW.
Meanwhile, Abbott did one thing Wednesday evening to alleviate some pressure on the hospitality industry, waiving certain regulations that disallowed restaurant delivery of alcohol.
Under a waiver issued by the governor, restaurants with a mixed beverage permit can sell for delivery beer, wine, or mixed drinks as long as they're accompanied by a purchase of food.
Also, alcohol distributors and manufacturers have been given permission "to repurchase excess inventory from restaurants and bars affected by event cancellations" due to the spread of COVID-19.