JEFFERSON COUNTY, Texas — Southeast Texas business owners had to make a decision on whether or not to reopen under Phase 1 of Reopen Texas Friday.
Business owners shared various thoughts on the last several weeks of being shut down.
"It is what it is, sometimes you never know what you're gonna face," restaurant owner Martha Vautrot said.
Vautrot knows disaster all too well—having the pandemic shut down the dining room at Vautrot's Cajun Cuisine in Bevil Oaks was just one of the most recent ones. She rebuilt her restaurant after Hurricanes Rita and Ike, including a complete renovation after Hurricane Harvey flooded the restaurant with several feet of water in 2017.
"It's a little harder every time, and then I lost my youngest daughter about three or four weeks ago," she said. "So it's just been topsy turvy, it's been crazy."
"But you know, with the good Lord's help, we'll keep on going straight."
But even now that she is allowed to reopen the dining room of her restaurant, she does not plan to just yet.
"I just want to wait until I can come full force, and put everything out, and talk to them," she said. "See what they're up to, give them all a hug and telling them all thank you for what y'all have done for me."
For now, she said to-go orders will do.
Across town at Bruno's Italian kitchen, to-go orders are still taking over the dining room that reopened Friday.
"It's been kinda quiet, nice and easy, steady," owner Zamira Gjyriqi said.
Bruno's only served a few tables, but that filled Gjyriqi with a sense of normalcy.
"Today we had a few tables, but it seems like full of life, like we're full of life and it's a really good feeling," she said.
Retail stores are also allowed to reopen under Governor Abbott's directions and plan to reopen in phases.
Brittney Morgan owns Bungalow Boutique in Beaumont. She has been waiting for this day since she had to close her doors a month ago.
"It's my livelihood," she said. "This is what I do, this is part of a way that I support my family."
In Nederland, Daniella Blanco, co-owner of Blanc Boutique and Salon, said she will continue promoting online sales for now.
"I don't think there's a right or wrong way to do it," she said. "Of course people need the income, we just don't want people to risk their health just to be able to shop."
Open or not, these women know, like other disasters, this too shall pass.
"We're all Texans and we all take care of everybody," Martha Vautrot said. "If nothing else, we feed them."
If there's one thing each business owner had in common, it's that they want everyone to stay safe and stay healthy.