#communityovereverything: Rick Hicks

"THE ABILITY TO COMPETE WITH TREMENDOUS RESTAURANTUERS AND OPERATE [IS THE ASPECT I ENJOY MOST]"

As COVID-19 continues to affect our lives, business leaders are transitioning to prepare for more long-term strategies to keep operations running as smoothly as possible. Perhaps no industry has been quite as impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic than the restaurant industry. As part of our continuing Community Over Everything campaign, we sat down with CityCentral member and Reach Restaurant Group CEO Rich Hicks. Rich and Reach oversee the operations of a number of local DFW favorites including Ojos Locos, Taco Lingo, and Pie Tap. Mr. Hicks gave us insight on the effects of COVID-19 on the restaurant industry, how Reach Restaurant Group is still trying to support its community, and how the community can help support local businesses.

 

"I DON'T REALLY VIEW IT AS WORK, I GET TO DO SOMETHING I LOVE EVERYDAY."

Rich began his career in the service industry at the age of 15 working as a dishwasher in the back of a local restaurant. Throughout both high-school and college Rich would continue to work in restaurants, working his way up through every possible position. After college he would take on more managerial roles and would start his open his first restaurant, Tin Star, at 27. Following the success of Tin Star, Rich would go on to establish Mooyah, another Texas staple, before establishing the Reach Restaurant Group in 2010. Throughout his career Rich has committed to serving the people of Texas.

 

Rich has continued his commitment to feed the people of DFW even during this time of uncertainty. While Reach has had to temporarily close all of the Ojos Locos Sports Bar locations, Pie Tap has remained open and more than willing to service the hungry remote workers of DFW. Aside from takeout operations, Reach spent weeks running “Operation Corazon”. The program was used to help the local Hispanic market, giving away free food kits which included eggs, rice, and beans as well as survival kits packaged with paper, water, and any other essentials they were able to provide. 

 

"THERE WILL BE A LOT OF RESTAURANTS THAT DECIDE NOT TO REOPEN."

There has been an estimated 70% drop in revenue for restaurants nationally during the COVID-19 outbreak. While the Dallas area far exceeds the national average of successful restaurants, Rich still predicts massive long-term consequences for restauranteurs and the industry as a whole. For many, just staying afloat is going to be a struggle. The majority of restaurants have had to furlough most of their employees during this time, and while some, like Reach, are attempting to take advantage of the government’s new payroll protection program to keep their employees taken care of during this time, the reality is many local restaurants will not be able to afford to reopen once the quarantine has passed. Rich also believes hindrance to operations ends when the quarantine does. Rather he believes operations will resume similarly to how they were ended; slowly with most industries having limited staff, customer capacity, and hours to ensure safety. There is also the issue of customers’ return to normalcy. It is likely to take some time before everyone is completely comfortable going out and eating in public again. Rich believes restaurant operators will have to prepare for the effects of COVID-19 to linger on the food industry longer than most other businesses.

 

"[DFW] HAVE USED THEIR KITCHENS MORE IN THE LAST FOUR WEEKS THAN THEY HAVE IN THE LAST TEN YEARS."

The good news for Dallas is people in DFW LOVE eating out. The national average for the success of new restaurants is roughly 30%, in Dallas the average is closer to 75%. If restaurants are able to weather the storm, there is likely no community more willing to give them business as soon as they are able. What that means for now is to support local business by allowing them to support you. The businesses that have transitioned to takeout and delivery only are doing what they can to support their community, and need the community to utilize their service.

 

Food delivery apps have made it easier than ever to get your favorite food without ever leaving your home. In a time like this they serve as a resource both for customers and businesses allowing the two to support each other without risk of personal health. However, in addition to takeout or delivery services many restaurants are offering special “quarantine options” for their customers. Pie Tap in particular has done specials for pizza, pasta, and chicken dinners meant to feed the entire family. Looking ahead to Easter Sunday, Pie Tap has put together an “Easter Brunch” kit that is available to be ordered in advance. Personally, we think it’s worth it just for the cinnamon rolls and mimosas.

 

"ANYTHING WE CAN DO TO PROMOTE LOCAL RESTAURANTS IS WONDERFUL"

Rich was sure to mention that he isn’t looking just for support for Pie Tap or his restaurants, he wants to encourage the DFW community to support any local business. Rich loves the restaurant industry, he loves the energy of the restaurant community, and he loves using the industry to support the greater DFW community. We are all stronger when we support our community, so in this time of crisis remember to do what you can to help keep all of your favorite local business able to provide for DFW. As always, we would like advise our community to continuing listening to the CDC, continue practicing social distancing, and continue supporting each other. During these stressful times why not take something off your plate and let someone else take care of dinner. We know who we’d recommend.