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Houston Restaurants Make Plea For Relief in Open Letter to Mayor Sylvester Turner

The letter, signed by dozens of restaurateurs, asks for deferred sales tax payments and paid sick leave for workers

Empty dining rooms are causing major anxiety for Houston restaurateurs during the mandatory closure
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Dozens of Houston’s most prominent restaurateurs and culinary professionals have signed on to an open letter pleading for major relief for the hospitality industry amid the coronavirus crisis.

The letter, addressed to Houston mayor Sylvester Turner, lays out a number of ways that the city and state can help restaurants stay in business. In addition to asks like paid sick leave and a mandate for rent relief, the group is also asking local and state governments to allow restaurant owners to file for economic assistance, and a delay or deferral for state sales tax payments.

“Mayor Turner, it’s your turn. It’s time for your City Council, and our State Legislature to come together and get busy for the restaurant and hospitality community. We feed Houstonians during hurricanes, water main breaks, World Series, and so much more,” the letter reads. “We step up in a time of need and crisis, as we are doing now, and we need our local government to do the same.”

The letter has racked up more than 100 signatures, and continues to attract co-signs from from Houston restaurateurs and chefs, including Truth BBQ owner Leo Botello IV, Erin Smith and Patrick Feges of Feges BBQ, and Buffalo Bayou Brewing chef Arash Kharat.

The plea for help comes two days after Turner ordered all Houston restaurants to close their dining rooms and only serve food for takeout or delivery. All of the city’s bars were forced to close their doors for at least 15 days, in an attempt to stem the spread of coronavirus across the Houston area.

This open letter is one of a number of petitions circulating around the state to encourage local and state officials to provide relief to Texas restaurants. Earlier this week, a petition urging the state to suspend upcoming mixed beverage and sales tax payments racked up more than 15,000 signatures. Neither Turner nor Texas governor Greg Abbott have announced any plans for relief for restaurants as of yet.

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