As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, Eater checked in with Austin’s defining restaurants to see how the pandemic has affected business, service models, and more. Next up in this series: LeAnn Mueller, owner of East Austin barbecue spot La Barbecue.
Eater Austin: How is COVID-19 pandemic affecting business right now?
LeAnn Mueller: We are down at least 75 percent. We don’t have the out-of-town customers we used to get. We no longer require preorders three days in advance like before the COVID-19 pandemic. Same day-ordering is available, so come in and eat.
What is the current service model? What measures are you currently implementing to prevent the spread of COVID?
All online ordering. We are running everything through our online ordering system. No cash. No lines or indoor eating.
Are y’all planning or thinking about any future changes?
Right now, our only focus is getting through this pandemic. Not being able to have the lines we used to is really hurting us. When I see other barbecue businesses with a line, I think it’s just a slap in the face for those of us that have had to adapt to this new environment. I feel people that are allowing long lines don’t get the severity of the virus, which keeps us from moving forward to reopen our business successfully. The cases are rising again — just play by the rules. It is not that hard to care about the well being of others. My main objective is to keep our customers and employees safe.
The Red Rocket Wiener Wagon [Mueller launched a hot dog pop-up in September; the next takes place today at the Cavalier with a drag show following social distancing measures] is doing great. We keep moving forward with our pop-ups. Future pop-ups will be announced on Red Rocket’s Instagram.
How has business been so far?
Slow, but the upside is locals are coming in and supporting us. Customers who normally wouldn’t have visited because of the line are now regulars.
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