Houston Impact: Black business and coronavirus

As individuals and entire countries are impacted by the coronavirus global pandemic, we can’t forget the very real impact it’s having upon Black businesses and entrepreneurs. The Defender compiled a list of Black-owned restaurants offering take-out services to offer support. The Defender also spoke with six local business owners for a first-hand view of the impact and how the community can support them in these times.

Q: What impact has the pandemic had on your business?

Jackie Adams, Melodrama Boutique: “My business has been slow from the beginning of the outbreak since I am a lifestyle boutique and people shop me for vacations and special events throughout the city, such as luncheons, teas and fashion shows, which have been cancelled and being rescheduled for later this year. Now with the new bar closures and dine-out only restrictions for restaurants, people are just in shock and there no movement for most small businesses. In other words, traffic has been shut down for small businesses.”

Jackie Adams
Melodrama Boutique
5306 Almeda Rd.
www.melodramaboutique.com
713-523-1608

Bonita Billings, B’s Wine Bar: “The coronavirus pandemic has crippled my business. I was totally devastated [recently] when I received the news from our county judge in Fort Bend mandating all bars and restaurants in the county to cease operations effective at midnight. My first thought was for my 12 employees that totally depend on the bar for income. My second thought was for the musicians and DJs that play at my bar on a monthly basis. Most of them heavily relied on the extra income to make ends meet. They are totally out of work. My third thought of many, was if my business along with other small businesses will be able to survive this pandemic. We are very hopeful and prayerful that we will overcome.”

Bonita Billings
B’s Wine Bar
8770 Hwy 6, Suite 300, Missouri City
www.facebook.com/bswinebar
832-440-7134

Nicholas Boatner, Sugar Rush Pearland: “Our business has experienced a major impact even though in the news. Because businesses can’t offer a dine-in service, business has dropped. We are predominately a to-go eating place anyway, but still business is slow. With dining places closed, and us being a dessert place, it has directly impacted our business.”

Nicholas Boatner
Sugar Rush Pearland
9811 W. Broadway St.
www.sugarrushpearland.com
713-434-7874

Marcus Davis, breakfast klub, Reggae Hut, etc.: “This pandemic is as afflicting to businesses as it is to the human body. Just as individuals are affirmed, ill and may even die, it’s the same with businesses. We are affirmed and ailing, and many may even die.”

the breakfast klub
3711 Travis Street
Houston, TX 77002
www.thebreakfastklub.com
713-528-8561

Reginald Martin, Lemond Kitchen: “This is an incredibly difficult time for the hospitality and tourism industry. Our company has been impacted significantly during this time. We share the same challenges as hotels, convention centers, theater centers and fellow food service operators. The drastic and sudden change in demand for our services due to the coronavirus outbreak could create significant long-term financial and structural damage to our business model with the job losses in the millions for the hospitality sector. We have worked to keep core employees on the payroll with reduced hours while we work through the current challenges.”

Reginald Martin
Lemond Kitchen
www.lemondkitchen.com
713-790-0441

Misty Starks, Misty Blue Media/3B Resources Group: “The coronavirus has affected my business in both negative and positive ways. The mass cancellation of events for my clients has obviously had a negative effect. All of the work and planning that go into events just went out the window in a matter of days. That’s devastating for my clients, and therefore, it has an effect on my company as well. On the other hand, because I provide services that help clients handle crisis communication, I am actually getting many requests from people who were not already among my client base. Usually, in times of crises, it’s firms like mine that business owners turn to for help with messaging and strategy.”

Misty Stark
Misty Blue Media & 3B Resource Group
www.mistybluemedia.com
832-283-7575

Q: How can the Black community support your business at this time?

Adams: “I am pushing online shopping via our website (www.melodramaboutique.com), but I created an in-store experience which is what my clients enjoyed, with different trunk shows and community partnerships, which I have had to cancel. I have also had to change our store hours to Wednesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.”

Billings: “We’ve had to become very creative, asking the community to continue to support us by offering ‘Wine By the Bottle’ sales for curbside or delivery within a five-mile radius. We have a limited menu, but we are offering food and drink to go for curbside pickup, Tuesday through Saturday, 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. A GoFundMe account has been implemented to support my employees and the ongoing operation expense of the bar during these turbulent times. All donations are greatly appreciated. We will survive! This is only a setup for a big comeback.”

Boatner: “The community can support us by placing call-in orders or by ordering desserts to go online at www.sugarrushpearland.com. We’re doing curbside orders so customers don’t have to come in and spend any extra time. We have a vast cleaning system in our store that we’ve always abided by. However, we are taking above-and-beyond precautions to keep our customers safe, offering hand sanitizer for customers…”

Davis: “As we comply with city and county mandates regarding calling in orders and picking up orders to go, the community can do the same: calling in orders and picking them up to go and being committed to doing that. Recently, our community had a business that was publicly challenged and the people responded. But, as I said then, we’ve got to understand Black businesses are perpetually in danger, and we have to be that vigilant at all times regarding supporting our businesses. Because even our strongest businesses will take a hit at this time, and other businesses may even be faced with closure.”

Martin: “To specifically help restaurant/catering operators like myself, if you’re financially capable, take advantage of any pick-up or delivery food programs. Lemond Kitchen has family meals, kitchen and grocery essentials available online for customers to order. Also, we will get through this, so start thinking of how individuals and companies can support larger-scale orders and catering for the late summer and fall…No business, big or small, is immune to the current climate. We will need a Houston renaissance like a modern-day Black Wall Street, to ensure African American entrepreneurs survive the current challenges organizing collectively with community leaders and residents to successfully respond to the new economy that lies ahead.

Starks: “We provide a number of services that are important to Black business owners, including social media management, PR and marketing, writing and editing and communication strategy. I hope members of the business community would consider hiring our firm for any of these needs. Most importantly though, I encourage everyone to practice social distancing and be diligent in helping to slow the spread of the virus. That would help out everyone.”