Workforce commission has plan to help restaurants

In this Wednesday, April 29, 2020, photo John Bratcher stands by the kitchen of his restaurant named, 107, as they fill to-go orders in Paris, Texas. Bratcher, whose restaurant and beer garden, sits off the town square in Paris has been pushed to the breaking point. Money is tight despite having kept the kitchen open for to-go orders. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

HARLINGEN — The Texas Workforce Commission has approved a new initiative aimed at helping the state’s restaurants negotiate their way through the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Restaurant Recovery Initiative provides a series of free videos which share best practices to help eateries operate to best effect in the era of social distancing.

Additionally, the initiative sets aside up to $500,000 for course instruction and testing for food handler permits and Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission certifications.

“This program can help all Texas restaurant owners and operators learn new ways to get their businesses back up and running,” said Bryan Daniel, TWC chairman. “TWC’s efforts to spur additional job growth in the Texas restaurant industry is a critical piece of rebuilding the state’s economy.”

The video topics will include online ordering, curbside pickup, delivery, e-commerce platforms and customer service.

It will also include lessons on ways to optimize restaurant space given restrictions on customers in some areas.

In addition to the videos, many restaurant employers and Texan job seekers will benefit from access to online basic instruction and testing for food handler permits and Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission certifications. The donated funds will be used to cover most of the cost for these programs.

“No-cost online testing for permits and certifications will eliminate a key barrier for restaurants that need to hire new staff,” said Commissioner Representing Labor Julian Alvarez.

The videos apparently will now begin production and will be made available to restaurant owners and workers when completed.

“Texas restaurants are a key backbone of our economy and the local communities in which they operate,” said Aaron Demerson, commissioner representing employers. “Restaurants are run by the Lone Star State’s toughest and most resilient entrepreneurs and we want to give them the tools to come back even stronger, which benefits all Texans.”

rkelley@valleystar.com