Owning any business comes with a particular set of obstacles and everyday worries. Then, when a pandemic sweeps across the globe, it only makes sense that those hurdles would magnify. How would anyone be able to prepare? It has required business owners to adapt, be flexible, and roll with the punches — or else be swallowed up.
Restaurant owners Larry and Jessica Delgado of Salomé on Main, Salt: A New American Table, and house. wine. & bistro — known as the Delgado Collective — were no exceptions. They talked through their decision-making process in order to keep their restaurants afloat.
“Are we making the right decision staying open for curbside and carry-out and delivery? That was a tough decision, and we knew that we needed to, and we knew that we needed to keep our business going,” Jessica said. “We didn’t really have the luxury of closing down.”
The Delgados turned to delivery and carry-out, even delivering food themselves, to keep in business. “Will it be enough to reopen one day?” Jessica recalled asking herself.
Despite being able to keep orders coming through delivery, curbside, and carry-out, the Delgados had to come to make some cutbacks to ensure that the restaurants would make it through the pandemic. “We went from 115 team members to 43 to keep the three restaurants going, and that was so heartbreaking,” Jessica said.
Larry Delgado agreed. “Making that decision, we struggled every day,” he said, shaking his head. “In the end, we just made the commitment that we needed to get through this so that all of those families would be taken care of when we get out of it. Y’all have a place to come back to work to great income for their families.
“That became our mission. Even if we have to lay somebody off temporarily, we’re doing this — and everybody who’s still here is doing it — so that those people have jobs to come back to.”
The Delgados explained that even though they heard about closures in other parts of the state, the impact of COVID-19 hadn’t felt like reality until the order came to close dining rooms across the state — the day after they had just ordered truckloads of groceries for the following week.
The restaurateurs had to think quickly on their feet, and made the fast decision to rely on carry-out, then delivery methods, and then meal kits for those who wanted to cook at home. “It was just enough to keep a limited staff on payroll,” said Larry, explaining that he didn’t take a paycheck for almost three pay periods himself.
Then, they heard that another chef in Houston had started selling meals at H-E-B, and the Delgados immediately picked up the phone and started making calls to do the same in the Valley. There were some roadblocks, but after some persistence, they finally found their opportunity with a local H-E-B representative. Within five days, their products were in stores, incorporated into the “Meal Simple” line.
“We’ve learned a lot of things, but for me it’s how resilient our team is and can be, and how resilient we can be in a moment of crisis,” Larry said, summing up their restaurant experience of 2020. “We adopted the mantra of ‘keep the fire burning.’ It didn’t matter how grim things look or how bad things were getting, somebody would say that phrase and everybody’s attitude [perked up] and everybody would get fired up. ‘OK, we can get through one more day.’”
Salt: A New American Table is currently offering curbside, carryout, and delivery for limited hours, while house.wine.&bistro is offering dine in, curbside, carryout and delivery for limited hours.
At Salomé, while dinner service is still temporarily suspended for the time being, the Delgados are excited to relaunch on October 5. In the meantime, they continue to offer curbside, carryout, and delivery, and their delicious meal kits continue to be available at H-E-B.
We recommend following each of the restaurants for the most up-to-date hours and services.