Restaurants not badly damaged by Hurricane Harvey are reporting brisk business as area residents who lost their kitchens in flooded houses seek hot meals, convenience and a break from it all.

Meanwhile, a whole new clientele in the form of contractors and people who are in town for recovery efforts are also boosting business, observers say.

The newly renovated Red River Bar-B-Que & Grill, 1911 E. Main St., was one of the first restaurants in the area to reopen after the late August storm and was able to quickly gain back its audience, General Manager Jim Molina said.

“Between cabin fever or our guest not having a kitchen to cook in, we have seen a huge increase in dine-in and to-go business,” he said. “Our staff is all part of our community and know the importance of giving back to a community that has supported us over 15 years. They all did it with a smile and without thinking twice about doing it.”

Restaurants that were spared a large degree of damage have experienced an uptick in business as residents seek food that’s simple and fairly fast, Greater Houston Restaurant Association Executive Director Melissa Stewart said.

“Even in parts of our community where there’s some recovery efforts continuing to go on, we see a lot of business uptake in some of our casual and fast-food service restaurants because that’s meeting the lifestyle needs of our community,” she said.

One restaurant experiencing an influx in business is League City’s South Shore Grille, 2800 Marina Bay Drive, owner Cynthia Carbajal said.

“Business has been good the last couple of weeks,” she said. “We probably had our best week last week. If there was any kind of low, it was only a day or two and that’s it.”

One reason why more people might be venturing out to eat is for a sense of community, Carbajal said.

South Shore Grille’s staff also hopes to lift the spirits of its patrons, Carbajal said.

“Everyone has really stepped together and just made it a nice, comfortable, happy atmosphere for everyone to come,” she said. “We’ve had a couple of our staff members even just buy desserts for the customers because they’re just so sad. They did that out of their own pocket to make their customers feel better.”

This upturn in business has been rewarded to those that were able to open a few days after Hurricane Harvey, such as San Lorenzo Mexican Restaurant & Cantina, 3202 Marina Bay Drive in League City. The establishment saw a surge in crowds when it reopened, resulting in a nearly 20-minute wait time, League City resident Carson Boner said.

Restaurants in League City might be undergoing a surge in business because hundreds of contractors are in the city repairing houses, Director of Economic Development Scott Livingston said.

Livingston cited these reasons:

“An increase in the number of building contractors in League City, the number of citizens who are putting their homes back together and want to eat out and our citizens’ gratitude toward our restaurants,” Livingston said.

Valerie Wells: 409-683-5246; valerie.wells@galvnews.com

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