This week’s edition of Table Talk takes us to San Patricio County where restaurants there are facing the same problems so many restaurant owners are facing across the state. How do they keep their doors open in the midst of the pandemic?
When we arrived at Butters BBQ in Mathis, we found an empty dining room and customers lined up and placing their orders at the drive-thru.
So in order to find out what people in the community are talking about and what matters most to them, that’s exactly where we headed.
Though it doesn’t matter whether you find yourself inside or outside Butters, you’ll be able to smell the intoxicating aroma of the brisket, ribs and smoked turkey as far as your nose can smell.
When we asked customer Lou Vera about his favorite item on the menu, his immediate answer was brisket. That’s when we asked him why it seems everybody loves the brisket?
“That is the best you got,” he told us.
That’s exactly why people come from all over to Butter’s to satisfy their cravings.
“Very good food,” said Lou’s brother, Art. “Tasty.”
The dining room of the 3-year-old family-run business was once a busy place but since the pandemic, you’ll find all the hustle and bustle concentrated in the kitchen.
The Sotos family and crew are trying to put food on the table and keep the place open.
They tell us the coronavirus cost them nearly 40% of their profits and had it not been for the drive-thru, owner Adam Sotos says, his dream may have gone up in smoke.
Although the pandemic may have broken out earlier this year, all of the customers we spoke with told us they’re following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines.
Customer Sandra Gonzalez and her colleague came for a lunch break and with kids of her own and a granddaughter at home, she told us that they “...just talk about stay home and stay safe.”
When asked if she feared for the rest of her family, Gonzalez said, “Not necessarily fear, but I just don't want nobody to get sick.”
As for Pete Freeman who drove in from Corpus Christi, he told us “we're going to wearing a mask. The right way. What we're supposed to do.
Lou Vera works for 11 schools in the area and it’s a requirement for him to wear a mask and maintain social distancing. We wanted to know if he didn’t work at the schools, would he still be following the CDC guidelines?
“Oh definitely,” Vera emphasized.“I'm older so I need to take care of myself. It doesn't take much for our age to actually get the COVID.”
But what would customers like Gonzalez say to people who aren’t social distancing or wearing a mask?
“I guess they need to,” she said emphatically.“I guess they need to.”
His brother, Art, had similar reasoning.
“You don't care about yourself but how about the other people?” he asked about customers who don’t follow the guidelines. "That's the reason we try to wear it all the time.”
And as the virus continues its deadly surge, it keeps the owner and customers up at night.
"I think we still have to continue doing what we have to because if not, this thing is never going to end,” Gonzalez said.
So that's three counties down and nine more counties to go.
Where should Paul go next? We want to hear from you.
You can reach out to Paul on Facebook and Instagram at @theealpaulmueller and on Twitter @realpaulmueller You can always email Paul, as well, at firstname.lastname@example.org.