Local businesses partner to maintain businesses
By Josef Molnar
Since the coronavirus epidemic swept through the country, forcing governments to restrict access to or close food establishments to limit the spread of COVID-19, most businesses have had to decide whether to stay open and lose money, or close and lose money.
But, some enterprising businesses have found a third option: Partnering to create a space where people with limited options can find a fresh and safely-prepared meal they can take home. One such collaboration is between The Chocolate Bar, which serves sweets such as cakes, ice cream, and chocolate at its locations in Montrose and the Rice Village, and a rotating lineup of savory food trucks offering everything from fajitas to po-boy sandwiches. This makes it easy for diners to stop by, pick up a tasty meal, and walk into the Chocolate Bar to get a takeout dessert.
“Innovation and partnership comes out of these kinds of situations; we have to ride this out together,” she said. “The restaurant community is so tight here in Houston, and we’re just trying to help each other out.” –Molly Voorhees
Molly Voorhees, owner of The Chocolate Bar, said that businesses that survive tough times find creative ways to stay afloat.
“Innovation and partnership comes out of these kinds of situations; we have to ride this out together,” she said. “The restaurant community is so tight here in Houston, and we’re just trying to help each other out.”
Avi Oberoi, owner of The DoughCone, an ice-cream shop, contacted The Chocolate Bar about setting up shop for his fellow food-truck owners. The vendors had been troubled by the closure of their ideal locations near universities, bars and parks, and were looking for new places to go. He decided to start calling around.
While Oberoi can’t personally benefit from the collaboration because he offers similar products, he wants to do his part to keep the other food truck owners in business. He considers it his way of continuing what he calls Houston’s ‘culture of giving’.
“I’ve grown up seeing people helping each other and not expecting anything in return, and this is part of that mentality,” he said. “Since this thing started, I have more free time and rather than throw my hands in the air about this, I asked myself, ‘How can I help?’ “
The collaboration required cooperation between The Chocolate Bar, the property owners for its locations, and The Chocolate Bar’s insurance companies.
“Everyone was on board,” Oberoi said. “If everyone hadn’t been on board, this would have been a headache and it might not have happened, but with the power of everyone working together to make a difference, it worked out, and its become successful.”
He and Voorhees inform their thosands of Facebook and Instagram followers about the latest food truck at The Chocolate Bar, and he said that the food truck owners that have used to location have been doing well, even on weekdays.
While doing well is important, Oberoi and Voorhees said that observing health precautions has been important for all of the businesses even before the coronavirus restrictions were put in place. From wearing a different set of gloves for every portion of the transaction process, to how the food is initially prepared, they want to ensure that a good meal is all that customers take away from the transaction.
“When everything is going crazy and we’re stressed out about where this is headed,” Voorhees said, “people can still swing by and get an ice cream cone and get something from a food truck while still maintaining social distancing.
“And sometimes just having a good meal makes things a little better.”
The Dough Cone
105 Sabine St. at Buffalo Bayou Park, near downtown
Serving homemade egg-free ice cream on vegan cinnamon-sugar cones, with a variety of toppings
The Chocolate Bar
1835 W Alabama St
2521 University Blvd
Call for hours