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Billionaire Tilman Fertitta Doesn’t Want to Pay Full Rent on His Restaurant Spaces

Plus, The Tasting Room announces its closure and more Houston dining intel

Haute Living And Louis XIII celebrate Tilman Fertitta Cover And Book Release
Tilman Fertitta
Photo by Monica Schipper/Getty Images for Haute Living

Welcome to AM Intel in the time of coronavirus, a round-up of the city’s newest bits of restaurant-related intel. Follow Eater on Facebook and Twitter for up-to-date details on how COVID-19 is impacting the city’s dining scene.

Tilman Fertitta wants rent forgiveness for restaurants

Houston billionaire and restaurateur Tilman Fertitta, speaking on CNBC’s “Power Lunch” program Tuesday, said that restaurant owners should not have to pay full rent to their landlords if they have been shuttered or lost business due to Covid-19. Fertitta, who owns more than 600 restaurants, in addition to the Houston Rockets, and who is worth more than $4 billion, told host Melissa Lee that less than half of his Landry’s, Inc. restaurants, and two of his five Golden Nugget Casinos, have been able to reopen.

Fertitta, who previously said that furloughing 40,000 of his employees was a “favor” to them, told Lee that “everyone needs to feel some pain” during to the coronavirus pandemic and ensuing economic shutdown. Two weeks ago, Fertitta told President Donald Trump that he did not take out a Paycheck Protection Program loan because he didn’t want to be shamed. Instead, the businessman took out a $300 million private loan with a 12 percent interest rate to keep his empire afloat.

The Tasting Room at Uptown Park will soon close

The Tasting Room’s Uptown park location will close on May 30 after 17 years in business. The wine room and restaurant is the latest in a series of closures compounded by the coronavirus outbreak, according to the Houston Chronicle. The restaurant, which was founded in 2003, was the first for owners Jerry and Laura Lasco, who later went on to open Max’s Wine Dive and a number of other Tasting Room locations.

Lasco Enterprises became known for selling wines in a restaurant setting but without a restaurant markup. Two previous locations of the Tasting Room — one in River Oaks and one in Kingwood — closed in 2014. The Tasting Room at CityCentre will remain open.

HEB loosens meat purchasing limits

Less than two weeks after implementing restrictions on the amount of meat Houstonians can buy at local HEBs, the grocery chain has loosened some of those restrictions. Houston-area shoppers can now buy unlimited quantities of frozen hamburger patties and fresh and frozen chicken, according to the Houston Chronicle. Limits remain in place for ground beef and brisket. The purchasing limits were originally employed due to production shortages at meat processing plants, many of them in Texas. The meatpacking industry has been an epicenter for some of the largest clusters of Covid-19 cases.