Author Archives: StaceyD

Let the Bidding Begin: Dishing Out Relief Auction to Benefit Texas Restaurants

DALLAS, April 29, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — The Texas Restaurant Association (TRA), the leading business association for Texas’ $70.6 billion food service industry, has teamed up with Dallas-based digital marketing firm Lux214 Media Group to fund the TX Restaurant Relief Fund through a week-long online auction.

The auction consists of exclusive chef and food experiences, gift certificates, products, memorabilia, and much more. All proceeds from the auction will benefit the TX Restaurant Relief Fund, which was established in response to the COVID-19 pandemic that has created a challenge of catastrophic magnitude for the restaurant industry. In Texas, the pandemic has caused 688,000 job losses, $80 billion in lost sales revenue, and has caused 34% of Texas’ 50,000 restaurants to close since March 15.

“Our team is working hard to put critical funds directly into the hands of the Texas restaurant communities’ most vulnerable population, independent restaurant owners, which in turn will help to save the jobs of the workers they employ,” said Dr. Emily Williams Knight, TRA President and CEO. “Restaurants in Texas are facing a catastrophe unlike we’ve ever seen. We are inspired by their determination and appreciate the support from our partners as we work to save restaurants.”

The auction is open to everyone – industry and the general public – and will also accept direct donations. The online auction can be seen at DishingOutRelief.com.

The bidding began Wednesday, April 29 at midnight and will end on Wednesday, May 6, at midnight. Items up for bidding range in price from $25 to $20,000. Items up for bidding include:

  • Wolfgang Puck autographed chef jacket
  • 5 course private dinner for 10 by Chef Stephan Pyles
  • Courtside Dallas Mavericks tickets and photo with player
  • Dinner party for 10 with Chef Kent Rathbun at private residence
  • Front Burner home dinner party experience with Chefs from Ida Claire, Mexican Sugar and Whiskey Cake
  • A year’s supply of Vital Farms Eggs
  • Lucchese Bootmaker gift card for $500
  • A private in-home wine tasting presented by Court of Master Sommelier Certified Professional
  • Tickets to sporting events
  • Gift Cards
  • Much more

“This is a cause that hits really close to home for me,” said Donna Tanner, co-founder of Lux214 Media Group and an executive in the restaurant industry in Texas for more than 30 years. “When the opportunity presented itself for our firm to help, we jumped at the chance. The money raised in this auction is going to pump some much-needed life into a multi-billion-dollar industry in Texas that desperately needs it.”

TRA has set a goal to raise a minimum of $10 million for the fund and Lux214 Media group hopes that this auction will help them reach that goal and support as many of Texas’ independently owned restaurants as possible. The objective is to provide immediate relief by getting the money to restaurants quickly.

“It is critical that people from all across Texas come together in solidarity to help in this time of crisis,” said Chef Stephan Pyles. “It is not only crucial for the economy in our great state, but for our culture. The funds we raise from this auction will make a significant impact on saving the restaurant industry in Texas, and by doing so, will be saving our culture and unique traditions.”

Governor Abbott Temporarily Allows For Appearance Before Notary Public Via Videoconference For Real-Estate Instruments

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AUSTIN – Governor Greg Abbott has suspended a statute concerning appearance before a notary public to acknowledge real-estate instruments such as mortgages. This suspension temporarily allows for appearance before a notary public via videoconference when executing such documents, avoiding the need for in-person contact during the COVID-19 pandemic. The conditions that will apply whenever this suspension is invoked can be found here.

“Texas is providing flexibility in the notarization process by way of this temporary suspension to ensure Texans can continue to stay home as much as possible to keep themselves and others safe,” said Governor Abbott. “Allowing for appearance before a notary public via videoconference will aid in our continued efforts to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 and protect public health.”

This suspension will remain in effect until the earlier of May 30, 2020, or until the March 13, 2020 disaster declaration is lifted or expires. Documents executed while this suspension is in effect, and in accordance with its terms, will remain valid after the termination of this suspension.

Grapevine Walgreens goes back to normal business hours

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Hey Grapevine! As of yesterday (4/28), Walgreens has gone back to their pre-COVID hours. They are open from 6am – Midnight again.

Location: 912 W Northwest Hwy, Grapevine Texas 76051

Phone: (817) 310-3072

Website

They have paper products in stock and all employees are requited to wear masks and gloves. Social distancing markers are still in place.

Texas businesses can begin reopening Friday. Here are answers to key questions about the governor’s plan

By  and 

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(AP Photo/Eric Gay)

Some businesses in North Texas will reopen this week because Gov. Greg Abbott has announced he’ll let his executive order requiring Texans to stay at home expire Thursday.

His three-phase plan to reopen the state will begin Friday, when malls, restaurants and movie theaters can reopen if they follow certain procedures.

Here are some answers to common questions about phase one of the governor’s plan.

Read more from The Dallas Morning News…

Grapevine shops are opening in a limited way; Support our local businesses

Screen Shot 2020-04-26 at 6.47.33 PMPursuant to Executive Order GA-16, issued on Friday, April 17, 2020, by Governor Greg Abbott and effective at 12:01 a.m. on Friday, April 24, 2020, some retail businesses classified as non-essential in the original “Stay-at-Home” order will be able to provide “To-Go” services with some restrictions.

Any non-essential business that chooses to reopen to utilize the “Retail-to-Go” system must follow the guidelines outlined by the Texas Department of State Health Services for the safety of employees and customers:

  • Customers will not be allowed inside any store/establishment.
  • Customers may purchase items from a participating retail store for pick-up, delivery by mail, or delivery to doorstep.
  • All payments must be conducted over the phone or the internet (if not possible, contact must be minimized).
  • Purchased items should be delivered/placed inside the customer’s trunk or backseat to minimize contact.
    • Items delivered to a home should be delivered to the front doorstep. Delivery personnel is not allowed to enter a residence.

Retail delivery by mail:

  • All payments must be done over the phone or the internet.
  • Purchased items should be delivered by mail without customer contact.
  • All customers should wash or sanitize their hands after any transaction.

View Governor Abbott’s Executive Order number GA-16. View the COVID-19 Guidance for employers, employees, and customers of reopened retails services provided by the Texas Department of State Health Services. View our Shop Local map.

With a high emphasis on social distancing and avoiding large crowds, the Grapevine Convention & Visitors Bureau has put together a list of Retail Stores and their respective hours of operation, online shopping availability and ability to purchase gift cards or gift certificates so you can pay it forward!

GUIDE: Know when and where to grocery shop in Grapevine, Colleyville, Southlake during the pandemic

By Gavin Pugh 

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(Courtesy Adobe Stock)

Grapevine, Colleyville and Southlake grocery stores are finding ways to offer food to everyone while also attempting to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Innovations include online ordering, curbside pickup, direct delivery and senior hours.

Here is an interactive map with updated hours and other details on local grocery stores. This list is not comprehensive, but it will be updated regularly.

To alert our news staff about potential updates, email gcsnews@communityimpact.com.

Continue reading at Community Impact…

Report: Blue Angels to fly over San Antonio to honor healthcare workers


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(Photo: U.S. Navy via MGN Online)

Read more from News4SA…

Grand Prairie NAACP delivers PPEs to local businesses

NAACP LogoI may have mentioned that I volunteer for a number of non-profits around the area. One of them is the Grand Prairie Chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (GP NAACP).

We recently reached out to local and area businesses and inquired about their need for Personal Protection Equipment (PPE). On April 21, we handed out gloves and masks to the the businesses who, though word-of-mouth, the Facebook page or email, requested them. PPEs were also handed out to the homeless and the poor in the Dalworth neighborhood, where Chapter President Angela Luckey grew up.

As of April 21, Grand Prairie has had 109 COVID-19 cases; Dallas County (the part that Grand Prairie is in) has had 65 cases and two deaths; and Tarrant County (Grand Prairie is also part of this county) has had 44 cases and one death.

PJ“The Grand Prairie NAACP is helping our essential business employees, healthcare workers and residents here in Grand Prairie,” said Chapter President Angela Luckey. “We are helping them to keep safe by providing them with masks and gloves. We also want to help one another find ways to ensure all people get tested for Coronavirus in Grand Prairie.”

Volunteers Phyllis Johnson and myself delivered to the businesses who reached out, as well as to homes of people who couldn’t leave their residence because of a medical condition, or whose caretaker did not have the proper protection.

Volunteer Phyllis Johnson said, “It is a privilege to be a part of an organization that focuses on helping the community, especially the minority community. To help distribute masks and gloves to small businesses in Grand Prairie, in order to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, was a heartwarming experience. People are in need. The recipients were so grateful for our efforts. One elderly lady stated she was grateful for the work that the NAACP is doing in the community.“

I had fun delivering to a couple of businesses. Their reactions were priceless. As we all probably know, PPEs are hard to find sometimes, or are just really expensive. Yet, they are required for many essential businesses. So the bags of gloves and masks, which any kid would hate to unwrap at Christmas, were received with relief and smiles.

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Me, all decked out

ABOUT NAACP:

Founded on February 12, 1909, the NAACP is the nation’s oldest, largest and most widely recognized grassroots-based civil rights organization. It has more than a half-million members and supporters throughout the United States and the world and are the premier advocates for civil rights in their communities, campaigning for equal opportunity and conducting voter mobilization.

The NAACP has been working toward racial equality ever since its inception. They operate on the belief that racial segregation and discrimination limit and diminish human potential, ultimately denying the full benefits of freedom to African Americans and other minorities. The NAACP has been at the forefront of the struggle to eliminate racial disparities in the criminal justice system for decades.

In 1925, the NAACP provided legal representation for Dr. Ossian Sweet, out of Michigan, who was facing a mob of angry white people after moving into an all-white neighborhood. When the mob attacked his home, one person perished. Dr. Sweet and his brother were charged with murder.

Famed attorney Clarence Darrow, retained by the NAACP, represented Mr. Sweet. The first trial ended in a mistrial when an all-white jury could not agree. The second trial ended in a “not guilty” verdict. This early NAACP-supported case coined the phrase, “A man’s home is his castle.”

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Volunteer Phyllis Johnson (L) and Chapter President Angela Luckey get ready for PPE deliveries

The Grand Prairie Chapter of the NAACP will continue to work with their partners to bring some relief, and hopefully some smiles, to the Grand Prairie area, minority of not. “We are all inclusive,” said Luckey.

Local eatery gives food away…all the time

InFrettaStorefront-editItalian restaurant InFretta in Irving held their first drive-thru food giveaway at that location on April 18 in their parking lot. The original location in Plano, which has been open for a year-and-a-half, has been doing the food giveaway every week for weeks.

InFretta partnered with Mama Pita Mediterranean Grill in Plano, Big Guy’s Chicken and Rice in Dallas, and Chameli in Richardson, each sending volunteers to set up, tear down and hand out food to the folks who drove through.

1 Solar Solution also partnered with InFretta, contributing funds for the food. Founder and CEO, Ali Samana, was at the event, handing food to people.

“1 Solar Solution is committed to supporting the local communities that we live and work in. We believe in sponsoring as many events and programs that we can, including local events like this one,” said Samana.

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Irving Mayor Rick Stopfer (R) chats with an Irving Police Officer

Even Irving Mayor Rick Stopfer came by to chat with everyone and there was an Irving police presence to make sure everything and everyone was safe.

The food giveaway included all kinds of fried rice and pasta, with dessert being ice cream that was donated by Ked’s Artesian Ice Cream and Treats out of Plano.

InFretta owner Ram Mehta said he was continuing the work of his mother, who passed away a few years ago. He grew up in India, and his mother believed heavily in charity and generosity. Following in his mom’s footsteps, InFretta regularly donates pizzas to Children’s Hospital.

There has been a sign on the front door since the business opened that says anyone who is homeless or hungry and cannot afford food can come in and get a free meal.

InFrettaFreeFoodSign“We’ve been giving food to the people who need it since the day we opened this location about seven months ago. The Plano location has been open a year and a half, and we do the same there. It’s just that people are not aware of it,” Mehta said. “Those customers will be treated just like any paying customer. It’s also all over our social media: Free pizza or pasta. If you can’t afford it, no questions asked and no judgement.”

The event provided 4,000 meals to give away.

“We already have 1,800 meals spoken for. Some of our volunteers are delivering them to churches and others that requested food. If the number of meals goes over 4,000, nobody’s going to go hungry. We’ll make more. No problem,” said Mehta.

Several businesses partnered up with Mehta, donating money, food and volunteers.

“I partnered up with Ram and his team because he was doing something to give back to the community, and we thought we’d support him and try to stand with him and see how we can make him stronger, as well as take care of the people in the community,” said Zaid Beyan, Co-Owner of Sara’s Market and Bakery in Richardson.

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InFretta Owner Ram Mehta delivers food to a customer

“There are a lot of people out here that are hurting and are looking for a meal. Nobody here should be looking for a meal. We are all in this together, and there are a lot of people out there looking for food, and the least we can do is give back. Even if it’s something small, it goes a long way,” Beyan said.

Representative of the Dallas Halal Buzz and the Dallas Buzz Facebook pages, Ali Siraj, said, “We promote mostly the Indian and Pakistani restaurants that open up in the area because they usually don’t get that much exposure. We are here volunteering for him, as we always do. We create and promote all the events with him and are pleased to be out here volunteering today.”

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Ice cream was a favorite!

One customer, who preferred to remain anonymous, drove up with her three children to get meals. “This is helping us very much,” she said. “I have been laid off from work and we have been eating the same things every day. It will be nice to have a change, especially with good food like this.”

InFretta plans to have another event like this very soon. For more information, call the Plano store at (214) 618-5431 or visit https://www.in-fretta.com/index.html.

Dallas Transportation business gets real with operating during the COVID quarantine

Many small businesses, even “essential” ones, are on the brink of closing their doors due to the lack of business since the COVID-19 pandemic hit.

downloadOne such business is Mercury Transportation, located in Dallas, which is part of a local ride share fleet under the Uber platform, helping the Dallas economy by transporting essential workers during COVID pandemic. For example, Mercury has provided rides for traveling nurses and doctors who are here to help in Texas with the Pandemic Crisis.

“Many of our patrons use the same drivers that they have bonded with previously. Trust is very important,” said Managing Partner and CEO Rafael Aguilar. “We have also helped church volunteers deliver food to their elderly members of their church, since the elderly are more prone to the coronavirus. Our Executive Drivers have helped many Texans who lost their jobs and cars get to where they desperately needed to go for a fresh start or a temporary solution. In these difficult times, our company is making a difference.”

Mercury started off in 2019 with two cars, but quickly became one of the largest Uber fleets in Dallas in less than a year. They were aiming to start expanding to other cities when the pandemic struck. Once the initial shock wore off, Mercury’s ownership and management began researching and calling different potential sources that would lead to a solution. They found a few ways to be one of the few transportation fleets to remain in operation.

They applied for a government Small Business Loan, via a Payment Protection Program (PPP), about a month ago. Unfortunately, the government recently announced that funding for the PPP has run out.

“Faith, unity and resiliency are the three things I am holding onto, so I strongly encourage you all do the same in this crisis,” Aguilar said. “It is very easy to have faith when things are working for you, but when things appear to work against you, it is more important to hold on to your faith. We are all in this together.”

Fortunately, Mercury’s landlord, Nadim Ahmed, who owns Venture X, which is a co-working space near the Galleria, has waived the rent for a number of businesses that have leased from him (if they qualify) until they can get back on their feet. This was a major contributor to Mercury and others to being able to keep their doors open.

“Mercury Transportation offices at a beautiful co-working space at Venture X, located right next to the Galleria,” said Ahmed. He is an entrepreneur himself, and understands the pain and hurdles businesses are currently going through and has worked closely with his members, like Mercury Transportation, to provide resources, flexibility, and rent deferrals to ensure these businesses not only survive, but are able to come out the other side stronger.

“My members aren’t just customers; they are the lifeline and core foundation of my co-working space,” Ahmed said. “Even with the social distancing, we are still a community that help and support each other. Making money in your business is always great, but as it is clear during these times, if others around you aren’t making money, the whole community will slowly fade. Co-working spaces seem like the place to stay away from during these times, but as we get back to ‘living,’ we will need these entrepreneurial communities to work together to make the economy strong again,” Ahmed explained.

“We thank our local nurses, doctors, police officers, retail workers and those who are out there, continuing to work like our executive drivers do, helping the community function. We usually work six days a week and have one day off, but last week, many of our drivers worked seven days because they understand that, in order for our Mercury community to get through this, we all must play our part. Our drivers are doing a fine job seeing the bigger picture. I ask for prayers for our drivers and want to give them personal recognition.Thank you to Kejuan Holmes, Shannon Garner, Josie Cain, Lynn Sullivan, Rodrick Lynn, Damon Avery, Pamela Tyler, Jose Carbajal, Matthew Holiwell, Obaidul Arnob, Paul Binion and Dylan Davis. Also thank you to the administrative team: Rodney Middleton, Mark Priddy and Britt Lloyd.

Rodney Middleton, General Manager of Mercury, says that, “The biggest changes I’ve experienced before COVID-19 was adjusting to the many different variables that come with working in the transportation industry. For example, no two days are the same. On some weekends, I’ve earned over $500 in a single shift, but there have been some weekends where rides were scarce, and it didn’t feel like a Friday or Saturday. After the quarantine started, the biggest change I’ve experienced is how more strategic I’ve had to be in the areas I venture into. This is to ensure that I receive trips, because rides are mainly limited to essential workers and I’m aware that they work designated shifts, so I have to be in the right place at the right time throughout the day.”

Middleton also said that this quarantine has caused him a pay cut “because of the limited amount of ride requests through the Uber app, but luckily being part of the Mercury Transportation Fleet, I have a true, reliable support system and an ownership team that’s doing everything in their power to make sure all drivers are being taken care of, and we continue progressing forward to weather this storm, because the potential for success will be endless after COVID-19 is resolved.”

Mercury is following the quarantine guidelines for essential businesses.

“To protect myself and my clients during this pandemic, I wear a mask, take my vehicle to the car wash daily before I start my shift and I frequently spray Lysol and wipe down the seats and doors in between clients. All items and resources are provided to drivers by Mercury to invest in our health and to keep both drivers and clients safe,” Middleton added.

“Before COVID-19, my clients were mainly an assortment of folks from young adults just entering the workforce to those who’ve worked and retired, but even though they were all different, they all had one thing in common: They enjoyed being in an environment that felt isolated from the issues of world and could experience a genuine laugh and relax during their ride. I try to provide this experience to all clients, which has been a true comfort to my patrons during this pandemic because the world is in a state of panic, and as a driver, I try to bring a bit of positivity to each person I have the pleasure of meeting,” Middleton concluded.

Several of the Mercury fleet drivers had a perspective to add.

Executive Driver Obaidul Arnob said, “We have transport people who work in various fields, from retail, to manufacturing to medical. Mercury stands proud as a surviving small business during this pandemic that can keep the manpower and economy moving, no matter the circumstance.”

“We have been able to help our drivers for the most part, maintain their commission, while also assisting our local economy during this crisis by pivoting our services where it is most needed. Rather than focusing on the nightlife scene that no longer exists, our time is currently spent transporting essential workers,” said Managing Partner John Holt.

“I hear it day in and day out: Thank you, thank you, thank you! Whether the patron’s vehicle has broken down, has been in a wreck or if it’s in the shop, we provide the transportation they need to get to work. We even take truck drivers home after they have made a trip around the country, delivering essential products to us all,” said Shift Supervisor Lyn Sullivan.

“People tell me every day how thankful they are that Mercury is here for them. Many are grateful that we are available after midnight for rides, being that many drivers are not on the road to take a ride. I’m thankful that we offer a service to people who need help just getting from point A to B,” said Executive Driver Paul Binion.

“I am blessed to work for an essential company like Mercury Transportation,” said Executive Driver Matthew Holiwell. “They give us the opportunity and tools that we need day in and day out, not only for our paychecks, but to serve and help the DFW community to keep thriving. I am thankful and so is Dallas for Mercury Transportation.”

“Managing our finance department behind the scenes has been extremely difficult during this time of crisis, due to our revenue being cut almost 60%,” said CFO Perla Morales-Aguilar. “I prioritize our drivers being taken care of before anything else because they are such an essential component of our company and our economy. I am so grateful for their courage and loyalty. That is why, as a minority owner, I am also here in my office doing everything possible to ensure Mercury remains open, and our drivers do not join the many Americans left without a job.”

If you need a ride, make sure to call Uber Fleet Members Mercury Transportation at 888.914.6372 or book a ride in advance HERE.

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