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    Long John Silver’s Steadies the Ship Amid Choppy Waters – QSR magazine - February 16, 2021 by Mr HomeBuilder

    In the first half of 2019, Long John Silvers charted a course for recovery, beginning with stabilization.

    At the time, the business faced three main obstacles. The chain had a master lease situation hanging over its head, which presented a lot of dead rent assets. Long John Silvers was also shedding about 60 restaurants per year and was burdened with the task of buying back troubled franchises.

    The strategy was to simplify the business. Long John Silvers went from 75 workers at its Restaurant Support Center to roughly 45 and renegotiated its master lease. As the process unfolded, the brand started thinking less as a national brand and more about how it can take its marketing spend and make it more local for franchisees.

    The restaurant began to see wins throughout the middle of 2019, it said. Long John Silvers stared down a tough reality in the final part of the year, however, as the brand tightened its advertising budget to prepare for 2020. As a result, transactions declined.

    So we had our level set starting into 2020, says Blain Shortreed, who was recently hired as CEO. And we thought that most of the assets that were part of the LoJohn [leases] that were going to be removed from our base were gone. We felt that most of the bleeding from our ad budget was done, and we were ready to reset ourselves. We got into 2020, and I think our story was starting to pan out.

    Long John Silvers went from 1,000 stores in 2015 to around 740 in 2019, including 540 franchises and 200 company-run stores. In January, the chain saw positive same-store sales stacked on top of growth from the previous year. Then COVID arrived a couple of months later, and the 52-year-old brand was forced to adapt.

    Two decisions from 2019 worked in its favor. First, the chain started third-party delivery. Additionally, Long John Silvers local approach to marketing prevented it from overspending. So when COVID hit, the company essentially stockpiled money.

    We didn't have to spend on advertising, Shortreed says. We didn't have too many forward buys. We could actually put our advertising on hold.

    Transactions declined 30 to 40 percent during peak Lenten season, which usually brings the highest sales volumes of the year. In addition, Long John Silvers switched from a 50 percent dine-in business to 95 percent drive-thru and 5 percent delivery. Business shifted overnight, but Shortreed says managers had the innate ability to adjust within days. Operators found ways to cut back on cash flows, saving Long John Silvers in the neighborhood of $200,000. They also learned ways to move from 15-day inventory to about eight days, which saved another $500,000 of working capital.

    Because no capital was being spent and no one could visit restaurants, Long John Silvers considered furloughing seven to 10 employees. Instead, the brand told those workers to refocus on being productive during COVID. For example, John Haley, the brand director for development, had no funds to build out restaurants. So he switched to building shields to protect customers and employees inside stores.

    Another 60 or so units shuttered in 2020, meaning roughly 300 stores have closed in the past five years. Long John Silvers currently has670 stores346 standalone, 139 co-branded with A&W, and 185 co-branded with KFC and Taco Bell.It also breaks down to 200 corporate stores and 470 franchises.

    I know in this business when you have restaurants that have a problem, throwing complexity at them, being that they have to go through a drive-thru and they weren't good at drive-thru, it's not going to fix their business enough so that they can recover like the rest of the restaurants, Shortreed says. So good operators survived through that, and I think some of the ones that were already not some of our better operators, we had to take some action just to make sure that we were making headway on our overall vision to simplify our business and make sure that we're delivering on the customer experience.

    Read the rest here:
    Long John Silver's Steadies the Ship Amid Choppy Waters - QSR magazine

    Kitchen and Bath Remodeling Is Available in Sacramento, CA – Press Release – Digital Journal - February 9, 2021 by Mr HomeBuilder

    Every homeowner has something in their home that they wish they could change. Maybe it is a wall in the kitchen that blocks their view of the living space, making it difficult to entertain. The bathroom with a bathtub they never use because it is small and awkwardly laid out. For most people these minor annoyances are something to just live with, at least until they save up enough money to invest in a remodel.

    Where to Start?

    The top two most popular rooms in a home to remodel are kitchens, which accounted for 79% of all remodels in 2015, and bathrooms, which were remodeled 88% of the time. Kitchen and bath remodels impact functionality and look of those spaces and the resale value of a home positively. Once the decision to move forward on a remodel has been made, homeowners will want to look at contractors,, who specialize in kitchen and bath remodels. Businesses that specialize in kitchen and bath remodel can help homeowners with each phase of the process from design to construction.

    Choosing Countertops

    When it comes time to remodel, one of the most troublesome parts of the process is often choosing the materials. In a kitchen or bathroom remodel one of the most important choices to make will be the countertops. When countertops for kitchen and bath remodels, it is hard to beat the functionality and beauty of quartz and granite. Both are high end materials and it's difficult to distinguish one from the other. Granite is a natural stone, cut from quarries and then cut and polished. Because it is all natural, there will be variations in color and pattern from one piece to another, even if cut from the same quarry. Quartz is an engineered stone. It comprises mostly natural quartz with a small percentage of other minerals mixed in before it is formed into slabs. When considering Granite Transformations, people should keep in mind that granite comes with more maintenance than quartz. Granite is porous and requires sealing during install and will need to be resealed periodically. Quartz does not need to be sealed, and because it is less porous, it has a slight advantage over granite when it comes to upkeep.

    When choosing countertops in a kitchen or bath, people may wonder if there are health benefits to choosing one surface over the other. Cleaning quartz has a slight advantage over granite. Homeowners with a tighter budget do not need to resign themselves to laminate or tile. There are several, man made options that offer the beauty of granite and quartz without the sticker shock. Engineered stone options,, that are made using recycled pieces of natural stone, quartz, and glass to produce environmentally friendly stone slabs. There are stone products on the market that infuse the stone with antimicrobial technology, which help to limit the growth of bacteria on the stone surface for the life of the product.

    Remodeling a home can be a daunting task. Choosing to remodel a kitchen or bath will provide solid returns on the investment. The choice of countertop will affect more than just the renovation budget. Choosing to go with stone counters, whether engineered or natural, will provide a high impact visual along with functionality that lasts a lifetime, or until your next remodel.

    Granite Transformations is a franchise company with locations in the Sacramento, Ca. area. They specialize in kitchen and bath remodels. Visit their website for more information.

    Media ContactCompany Name: Granite TransformationsContact Person: Media RelationsEmail: Send EmailPhone: 707-200-4813Address:3485 Airway Dr., Suite A City: Santa RosaState: CaliforniaCountry: United StatesWebsite:

    Kitchen and Bath Remodeling Is Available in Sacramento, CA - Press Release - Digital Journal

    Williamson County sets vaccine locations; 5 eateries open, coming soon in Leander, Cedar Park and more area news – Community Impact Newspaper - February 9, 2021 by Mr HomeBuilder

    Williamson County continues to move forward with its COVID-19 vaccine plan, setting vaccine locations and operating help services, officials said Feb. 8. (Courtesy Baylor College of Medicine)

    Read the latest business and community news from Central Texas.

    Williamson County

    Williamson County sets COVID-19 vaccine locations for next two weeks, continues to roll out plan

    Williamson County continues to move forward with its COVID-19 vaccine plan, setting vaccine locations and operating help services, officials said Feb. 8.

    Round Rock

    Texas State University now offering free COVID-19 testing in Round Rock

    The Texas Division of Emergency Management and Texas State University Round Rock are now hosting free COVID-19 testing in the city through the end of April, according to a Feb. 4 city news release.


    Specialty Remodelers opens in Georgetown plus more business news

    Specialty Remodelers opened in Georgetown in December. The business offers room additions, kitchen and bath remodels, cabinets, flooring and specialty wall finishes.

    Leander-Cedar Park

    5 restaurants now open or coming soon in Cedar Park, Leander

    These five Cedar Park-Leander restaurants have recently opened or are planning to open soon.

    Southwest Austin

    New mini golf and entertainment center opens in Dripping Springs

    Dreamland, a new mini golf, pickleball, arts and entertainment center located at 2770 W. Hwy. 290, Dripping Springs, opened Feb. 5.

    Dripping Springs Wild Game Dinner returning virtually; local cafe launching new menu and more South...

    The annual Dripping Springs Wild Game Dinner, a local event that raises money for Dripping Springs and Hays County-based charities, will take place virtually this year Feb. 20. Individuals interested in participating in the 31st annual event can place an online order of food as well as raffle tickets through the fundraiser's website or make individual donations.

    New Braunfels

    Infernos Wood Fired Oven & Spirits in New Braunfels bites back with its signature scorpion pepper

    The bite. That is what Cary Hamer, owner of Infernos Wood Fired Oven & Spirits, said most aptly defines the proprietary flavor at his restaurant. In this case, the bite is brought to patrons by the signature Trinidad scorpion pepper, which is several times hotter than a habaero pepper and positioned at the forefront of the restaurants marketing.

    Starbucks coming to New Braunfels this fall will include a drive-thru

    A new Starbucks location is slated to open in New Braunfels in the fall, according to a Starbucks spokesperson, and it will be the citys first drive-thru location of the franchise.

    Expansion of H-E-B on Walnut Ave. in New Braunfels underway, set for late 2021 completion

    The roughly 76,000-square-foot grocery store will be enlarged to 110,000 square feet, according to H-E-B representative Julie Bedingfield.

    Central Austin

    The Long Play Lounge to pick up where Stay Gold left off and more business updates from East Austin

    North Austin craft beer and cocktail spot The Long Play Lounge plans to open a second location on the premises of recently closed East Austin dive bar Stay Gold. According to a representative for The Long Play Lounge, the new 1910 E. Cesar Chavez St. location is tentatively set to open Feb. 15 and will remain under the same management as Stay Gold.

    Brian Rash, Ali Linan, Kelsey Thompson, Nicholas Cicale, Lauren Canterberry, Olivia Aldridge and Taylor Girtman contributed to this report.

    Read more:
    Williamson County sets vaccine locations; 5 eateries open, coming soon in Leander, Cedar Park and more area news - Community Impact Newspaper

    5 Best Architects in Austin – Kev’s Best - February 9, 2021 by Mr HomeBuilder

    Below is a list of the top and leading Architects in Austin. To help you find the best Architects located near you in Austin, we put together our own list based on this rating points list.

    The top rated Architects in Austin are:

    Jay Corder Architect takes the view in motivated design to build spaces that look great, suit your needs, adjust to your lifestyle, stand the ravages of time, and make you happy to come home. Either its a personalized design home or a mid-sized commercial venture, Jay Corder Architect brings a modernist technique, aesthetic sensibility, and personal commitment to every project. Jay and his team captivate clients searching modern home design for new construction, remodels, and additions.

    They believe a modernistic approach means of this century and decade and it acknowledging that they live in their homes differently than they did 15 years ago. There is a beautiful and useful manipulation between the interior and exterior space, with a clear connection to the outdoors, flow and natural light are important to their personal enjoyment and well-being. The teams objective is to get to know you well enough to understand and interpret your very particular needs, then design a beautiful home that meets every single one of them.


    Kitchen, Bathroom, Outdoor Living & Pool, Living Spaces


    Address: 2700 W Anderson Ln UNIT 309, Austin, TX 78757Phone:(512) 243-8507Website:


    Weve had two excellent opportunities to work with Jay Corder and his team one for building our home from the ground up, and another doing an addition. His team is incredibly creative, with out-of-the-box ideas. They are professional, reliable, and fun to work with. Jay has high standards for contractors and their work, and hell make sure that the final product is exactly as you like it. Debbie C.

    Barley-Pfeiffer Architectures main strength is designing high-performance homes and buildings that are attractive and timeless. Acknowledged for their attractive design, integrity, and ability to stand up to the elements, they are less expensive to own, operate, and maintain, are healthier to occupy, and are more comfortable to live and to work in. They know that each site, building, and client is unique.

    By incorporating environmentally sound design strategies, their firm offers comfortable and healthy, yet reasonably priced living and working accommodations. Their homes and buildings are recognized for their intelligence, energy efficiency, and innovative utilization of space. Their method will appeal particularly to those who intend to own their home or building for many years, to be passed on to the next generation, and possibly the one after that.


    Residential, Renovation, Commercial


    Address: 1800 W 6th St, Austin, TX 78703Phone:(512) 476-8580Website:


    Engaging Barley|Pfeiffer to design our retirement home was one of the smartest things weve ever done. The build of our house is far superior to typical construction in our area. More important, though, this house fits us like a glove. Their comprehensive design process incorporated not just our taste, but how we live, from the room flow to the allocation of HVAC components, etc. Living and building four hours from their Austin office was a bit of a challenge, but we coordinated well and they were on site at all critical junctures. The level of detail in the plans and specifications far exceeded what one typically gets, even in a full custom build. This was critical to ensuring the energy efficiency of our home. Weve been in the home for two years and continue to be impressed with how little we spend to heat and cool it. We highly recommend the team at Barley|Pfeiffer Architecture. Wolfe D.

    Matt Fajkus Architecture is an elite and licensed architecture and interior design business that compliment residential and commercial projects, both small and large. Their design piece is derived from the belief that each project is extraordinary, as it should be driven by the client, the site, and functional requirements, rather than a singular, preconceived aesthetic. The firm goal for clear and simple solutions to complex problems by blending expertise as well as experimentation.

    As a young and energetic collaborative, the firm is simultaneously an academic think tank, directly connected to theoretical and technological research at the University of Texas at Austin School of Architecture, while also practicing with a deep concentration on realizing outstanding buildings. MF Architecture encourages a transparent design process including a direct collaboration with client and builder. Furthermore, the firm promotes honesty and usefulness in the design itself, with a belief in balancing restraint and expression in broad design moves as well as material choices and composition.


    Architecture & Interior Design, Residential & Commercial Projects


    Address: 900 E 6th St #100, Austin, TX 78702Phone:(512) 432-5137Website:


    Fantastic modern designs. Great utilization of space. Matt and his team are an absolute delight to work with. Ron B.

    Furman + Keil Architects is a communal design business committed to making enhance surroundings that improve the lives of people and their society. Their work is founded on the premise that communication and teamwork are fundamental to unlocking the hidden potential of every project. They value the ideas and opinions of their clients, colleagues, consultants, and co-workers, and stress the importance of making sure everyones viewpoint is heard and respected.

    They guide clients through a process of discovery, allowing the design to unfold as a reflection of a projects unique vision, desires, and place in the landscape. Their work seeks a fresh balance between local precedents and innovative design. They toil to create everlasting, sustainable buildings with materials and forms that are grounded in a strong sense of place and built to be enjoyed by their clients for generations.


    Residential & Commercial Projects


    Address: 1211 E 11th St STE 200, Austin, TX 78702Phone:(512) 479-4100Website:


    We loved working with the team at F+K on our ranch project. Their attention to detail and quality in every aspect of the process made such a difference in our experience and the final product! Alane S.

    McKinney York Architects dispenses an opinion in the transformational power of people united in a common purpose. Their goal is to create places that draw people together, serve, and inspire. This belief manifests itself in collaboration. That means ongoing communication in the studio and with their design team, a lack of ego from the top down, and a collection of highly capable, enthusiastic design professionals. Their staff are all exceptional designers and, rare within the profession, the majority are registered architects.

    Collaboration extends beyond the studio to embrace their clients. With each council, they vigorously undertake their clients and listen attentively to uncover the unique qualities of their project and site. The aim of this effort is to reveal not only the clients top-of-mind goals but also latent functional and aspirational goals, as these often determine the real success of a project.


    Commercial, Residential, Academic, Civic, Religious, Museum & Exhibit, Interiors


    Address: 1301 E 7th St, Austin, TX 78702Phone:(512) 476-0201Website:


    One of the top firms in the state. Professional, high design, on time and on budget would use them on any project. Thanks MYA! William B.

    Shera Elliott graduated from the New Mexico State University with a major in biology and a minor in Biological Basis of Behavior & Health Care Management. Shera grew up in Los Angeles, but moved to Las Cruces for college. Shera has written for several major publications including the Albuquerque Journal and NPR. Shera is a community reporter and also covers stories important important to all Americans.

    Here is the original post:
    5 Best Architects in Austin - Kev's Best

    5 Home Improvement Projects With the Highest Return on Investment – Motley Fool - November 27, 2020 by Mr HomeBuilder

    Image source: Getty Images.

    While it doesn't influence our opinions of products, we do receive compensation from partners whose offers appear here. We're on your side, always. See our full advertiser disclosure here.

    If you're selling a home, you might worry whether you've over-improved your property. In other words, have you upgraded too much to recoup the cost?

    If listing your home is in the foreseeable future, it's essential to know which improvements are most likely to pay off when you sell. Here are five home improvement projects known for holding their value.

    Let's face it; the first thing we notice when we drive up to a house is its exterior. If the house looks like it was last painted during the Korean War, the lawn is overgrown, and the mailbox appears to have been run over by a moose, it's nearly impossible to see it as a potentially beautiful home.

    According to HGTV, exterior improvements recover 90% to 100% of what you pay for them. That makes fresh paint, vinyl siding, an updated front entry, new deck, patio, porch addition, and landscaping safe home upgrades.

    If you don't plan to sell for a few years, consider a charming addition like a fountain, lily pond, or stone-paved walkway. That way, you'll have time to enjoy it before putting the house on the market.

    Seller tip: Safe and attractive stairs and railings make buyers feel secure and show you're a homeowner who focuses on upkeep.

    Living space retains a fair share of value. For example, a family room addition offers an average return at resale of 83%. A basement remodel will recapture a little over 90%, and an attic bedroom conversion provides an average return of nearly 94%.

    Seller tip: If you plan to convert an attic, consider adding a bath. Buyers will feel as though they're walking into a suite.

    You know all those shows you've seen on television where they've totally gutted and rebuilt a kitchen and bath? If you want a healthy return on investment, you need to forget about those shows. The best return -- and we're talking 98.5% to 102% -- is on minor kitchen and bath remodels. A minor remodel is primarily cosmetic and doesn't rearrange your floor plan. In other words, you're not tearing out a tub so you can install a shower across the room or removing a wall in your kitchen and relocating cabinets. It's about reimagining how each space can look through cosmetic enhancements. For example:

    Seller tip: Avoid upgrades that make your home the most expensive in the area. Most homebuyers would rather buy the least expensive home in a fantastic neighborhood than the most expensive property in a so-so neighborhood.

    There's nothing particularly exciting about having replacement windows installed, but boy, can they pay for themselves. In some cities, the average homeowner recoups more than they spent on the windows. In others, you'll get close. Here's why: Living in a home with energy-efficient windows can cut down on your utility costs year-round. Even if you recover the average return at resale of 89.6%, you've practically paid for the windows.

    Seller tip: Think of windows as an investment. They'll help you keep money in your bank account whether you sell or not.

    If you have space and can add a new bathroom, you'll likely recapture around 86.4% of the cost when you sell. If you live in the home long enough to enjoy the extra bath yourself, that's a win/win.

    Seller tip: The value is in having another bathroom. Only pay for upgrades like a rainforest shower, heated floors, or a towel-warming rack if you're buying them for your pleasure. Unless you live in a luxury home, you're unlikely to recoup the cost of luxury upgrades.

    Ideally, the upgrades you make to your home will both give you enjoyment and make your home stand out from the crowd when it's time to sell. If you're not sure how to finance your home improvements, you have several options. Consider a cash-out refinance, where you refinance your existing mortgage, borrow more than your remaining balance, and get the difference in cash. A cash-out refinance is a good option if you have solid equity in your home plus a strong credit score. Borrowing against your home via a home equity loan or HELOC could also work, and that way, you don't need to apply for a brand-new mortgage.

    See the rest here:
    5 Home Improvement Projects With the Highest Return on Investment - Motley Fool

    Report: Home improvement spending continues to increase – LBM Journal - November 27, 2020 by Mr HomeBuilder

    This year, we found, in our annual survey, the average home services spending for households who took on projects rose to$13,138, an increase over last years survey results, where homeowners who did projects spent$9,081on average, saidMischa Fisher, chief economist at HomeAdvisor.

    This years topline growth in spending and projects is a story of increasing costs of supplies, increasing cost of labor and homeowners shifting spending from things like entertainment and travel to their homes, continued Fisher. While the cost to do projects compared to last year did increase, we also found that homeowners were spending more as well. The acceleration of home buying this year and underlying drivers of consumer spending like shifting demographics, baby boomers renovating to age-in-place, millennials changing needs to raise their growing families, a greater cultural focus on home design and home entertainment, an aging housing stock and a shortage of new home construction among many other fundamental factorswere already resulting in more spending on home improvement, home maintenance, and home emergency repair and also continued this year.

    Homes have always been important, but the once in a century global pandemic has fundamentally shifted the relationship we have with our homes. Those factors, combined with a shifting range of needs for households as a result of coping with COVID-19, such as 27% more outdoor living needs, 40% more home entertaining, 50% more working from home, and 68% more home cooking, resulted in a shift in spending patterns, with 33% shifting commuting budget, 48% shifting vacation budget, and 52% shifting restaurant budgets into home services.

    Additional insights include:

    This report also found many generational trends, fueled by the onset of the COVID pandemic, including a focus on home services by millennials.

    Millennials are spending the most on home improvement projects this year, said Fisher. On average, millennial households spend or plan on spending nearly$10,000on home improvement projects this year. Homeownership rates for millennials have jumped significantly, especially as COVID-19 has reemphasized the importance of the home and many companies move to flexible work location options. Millennials are not only rapidly becoming homeowners, but they are also spending more on home improvement than any other generation when they do.

    The report is informed byHomeAdvisors True Cost Guide, an online guide for homeowners to access real costs as reported by consumers for home projects, as well as results from an annual survey conducted among homeowners.

    See more here:
    Report: Home improvement spending continues to increase - LBM Journal

    Homeowners nationwide are remodeling in record numbers amid pandemic – - November 27, 2020 by Mr HomeBuilder

    As people continue to spend more and more time in their homes, many are looking for ways to upgrade through remodeling. And it doesn't take a big budget to do so.

    MINNEAPOLIS When Dave Fransen bought his first house in south Minneapolis 13 years ago it was a true fixer upper, and hes since built a new kitchen, garage and a backyard fence.

    "It definitely needed some work," said Fransen. "And Ive just been ticking off projects here and there."

    But this year is his busiest yet, because, as the pandemic gets longer, so does his list of projects.

    "When you're at home a lot more, its easy to get more annoyed by the things that have always sort of annoyed you about your house," said Fransen. "They get a little more amplified."

    Thats one reason homeowners nationwide are remodeling in record numbers. Home design website Houzzsays leads for professional projects have spiked nearly 60% this year, with Americans spending more time than ever at home.

    "The boom in construction can be heard all around the country, and probably the world," said Tamara Day, host of the HGTV remodeling show Bargain Mansions.

    Day remodels homes around Kansas City, helps homeowners with design both in-person and virtually and is now redoing her own house, finding that like many families it felt far too small when she, her husband and kids were suddenly all staying home.

    "My designers have never done so many home offices as they have in the past six months," said Day.

    Day says offices are one of the best investments you can make, stressing that any small area - even a closet - will work, and that wallpaper and tile are inexpensive ways to give it character for video calls.

    "Making that backdrop something that fits what you want people to think about you and your business is a huge part of this," said Day.

    Day says gyms are also a smart addition, saying all it takes is a big mirror, a padded floor and some basic equipment.

    "It is a need, not a want anymore," said Day.

    And she says kitchens and baths are always money well spent, but says you need firm bids, a well-researched plan and advice from an expert.

    "A consultation fee is nominal compared to making large mistakes, and often times thats all you need," said Day.

    Day says you also dont need a big budget or a lot of skill, saying paint, cabinet hardware and light fixtures are easy, affordable upgrades.

    "There are lots of projects that you can take on that will change the way your entire space feels without having to spend a ton of money," said Day.

    Dave Fransen agrees. Thanks to the pandemic, hes already had time to do his own demolition for a new bathroom, bedroom and office, and with the money hes saved this year he may redo his basement next.

    "Covid hit, and work from home hit, and it became a really good opportunity," said Fransen. "It's kind of the right time to take that on."

    See the article here:
    Homeowners nationwide are remodeling in record numbers amid pandemic -

    Katy-area business owners adapt to COVID-19 – Community Impact Newspaper - November 27, 2020 by Mr HomeBuilder

    Earlier this year, Meredith Lanning, owner of Pinots Palette in Katy, told Community Impact Newspaper she was taking measures to be extra sanitary and maintain social distancing rules in her classes at the beginning of quarantine; she even suspended in-studio classes for a while.

    Eight months and several regulations later, Lanning said it has been a challenging year.

    The last eight months have been a roller coaster, Lanning said. Im a small-business owner who is supposed to promote social gatherings to stay open in the middle of a pandemic. ... How do you do that?

    While the effect of the coronavirus on cities sales tax revenue has varied throughout the Houston regionwith Katy seeing lower revenue compared to 2019small businesses in the community have felt the financial strain of the pandemic for the past seven months.

    Local government is only as strong as the local economy, said James Thurmond, a former city manager and current graduate professor in public administration at the University of Houston. [If] they dont have money coming in, they cant provide some of the basic services they need to provide.

    Although the pandemic has led to a drop in sales tax collections in Katy, Director of Finance Andrew Vasquez said grocery stores, businesses that were able to stay open due to carry-out orders, and Buc-ees helped carry the city when Katy Mills mall was shut down.

    We were actually surprised the sales tax revenue did as well as it did, he said. We get the benefit of people traveling through Katy and spending money at Buc-ees.

    Reinventing the wheel

    Lanning, like other business owners around the world, was forced to create a new business model overnight.

    With approval from Fort Bend County, Lanning was able to offer curbside pickup for painting kits, which slightly increased spending because materials that were typically reused were now being sold.

    However, that was not sustainable, and business slowed again once the mask orders went into place the week of July 4. Nobody was coming, Lanning said. I couldnt get an adult in here to drink and paint if it saved my life. I had to shut it down.

    Ida Franklin, the owner of Venus Construction in Katy, said she lost two employees in the initial stages of the pandemic and started having supply chain issues.

    We have a horrible time right now getting appliances, Franklin said. Anything made in China or anywhere overseas is taking way longer to get here. Things that normally take a couple of weeks to arrive are taking months.

    Franklin said Venus Construction has struggled a little in getting parts to complete a job due to factories closing overseas in March and April, but manufacturing is picking back up.

    The things that we would be selling now are things that they would be manufacturing back in March and April, Franklin said. They just started reopening, so now they are having to play catch up, but its going to take months.

    Venus Construction opened in 2006 and specializes in high-end kitchen and bath remodels as well as commercial remodeling and build-out.

    I talked to my employees at length about not putting themselves at risk unnecessarily, being careful and wearing masks, Franklin said. Especially after we went through [COVID-19] at my house, it was terrible. I wouldnt want to wish that on anybody. Having to quarantine and separate yourself from each other in the house, and if people have kids, I cant even imagine telling a kid they cant hug their mother.

    The most severe decreases in sales tax revenue may not have happened yet, and local governments need to brace for those, Thurmond said.

    The COVID-19 recession, which is considered to have started both domestically and globally in late February, is unlike any other economic downturn in recent history, Thurmond said: It could potentially be much longer-lasting than a traditional recession.

    We havent hit the low point yet, he said, adding that local governments must spend money and create budgets wisely. I would not be very positive right now. ... I would be cutting back.

    Lanning reached out to Fort Bend County for a grant to help stay open during the lockdown, but Pinots Palettes locations in Cypress, Sugar Land and Memorial City have all closed since the pandemic hit the Greater Houston area.

    Ask if you are struggling, Lanning said. It is just awesome how they help if we need it. Im hoping its going to be a stellar holiday seasonmaybe just without the crowds.

    A silver lining

    Although the restaurant and entertainment industries have suffered during the pandemic, other industries have thrived.

    Venus Construction is booked until mid-December.

    Were very fortunate to have a good business base, Franklin said. Were just trying to keep up with the business we have. In our construction and remodeling industry, its crazy busy right now, so theres not that much unemployment. I know there are lots of people unemployed and lots of people are struggling, but were not struggling.

    The YaYa Club Clothing Co. located at 123 FM 1463, Katy, was another business that saw success since the pandemic, according to Lanning.

    Although initially the owners were unsure on how they would continue, they quickly found a way to leverage the internet and social media to kick up sales.

    I always think God puts people in your life that you need to learn some stuff from, and during quarantine I was watching all their videos, Lanning said. They go on Facebook live because they are a boutiquepeople come in, people touch clothes, people try things on, and we were shut down.

    Livestreams included the owners presenting certain clothing items with descriptions and an assigned number to make it easy for customers to buy online, co-owner Robin Ebrecht said.

    We started making masks for companies, for individuals, and clear shields because teachers, administrators and hair stylists wanted to be able to talk and see their clients, Robin said. We just tried to adapt and change with the rules and the laws.

    The YaYa Club offers clothes, jewelry, a mens section, and masks and hand sanitizer.

    I want to thank the community for supporting us and shopping local, Ebrecht said. Its been really amazing. We were surprised that we didnt fall that far behind last years sales, even through all of this.

    Ebrechts son, Tanner, owns DiamondFit Performance Katy. The athletic facility shut down in the early days of the pandemic, Tanner said.

    The North Carolina-based business specializes in training youth and high school athletes with some adult training classes.

    Although the gym has lost a bit of money this year, Tanner said the staff was prepared for it and looking ahead.

    I would imagine a similar story in most places, Tanner said. We were operating normally, boom everything shut down, and we just had to adjust and overcome all the adversity. I hope we are on the back end of it. Were pushing through. We are just trying to give our service and help everybody out.

    Read the original post:
    Katy-area business owners adapt to COVID-19 - Community Impact Newspaper

    Who Pays for ‘Kitchen Crashers’? It Isn’t Easy to Get Cast on the Show – Distractify - September 23, 2020 by Mr HomeBuilder

    As fans of Kitchen Crashers know, the DIY Network program loves to surprise unsuspecting shoppers at home improvement stores with professional remodels, but who is expected to pay for these pricy renovations?

    Lucky for us, past participants have opened up about their experiences on the various Crashers shows (which include Kitchen, Yard, Bath, House, and Room), though getting cast is tougher than you think.

    All five versions of Crashers use the same production company, Big Table Media, who foots the bill for the projects. However, local businesses typically donate their goods and services in exchange for free advertising.

    On top of that, home makeover shows tend to have big-budget sponsors, like Bed Bath & Beyond and Target, to help cover certain costs. In a 2019 blog post, one of the franchises former clients, Bill Cunningham, confirmed that he didnt contribute a single penny to his renovation.

    "My wife and I were on Bath Crashers and while we received a $40,000 high-end bath remodel, as the homeowners we never saw an invoice for one single item or trade that worked on our project," he stated.

    "Everyone related to the show was really amazing," he added. "Like a group of fun and talented friends who take over your house for a few days. Its a crazy few days which will leave you sleep deprived and exhausted, but my wife and I would do it again in a heartbeat."

    Mike and Wendy Schmiedeler, a couple from Oak Park, Ill., were thrilled with how interior designer Alison Victoria and her Kitchen Crashers crew transformed their outdated space. "The new kitchen is great," the duo told the Wednesday Journal after their episode aired.

    "It looks fun and modern now, and the layout makes a ton of sense, and, of course, the new appliances are fantastic," Wendy shared. "People were skeptical that we would turn over the design decisions to someone else There was nothing anyone could do to this kitchen to make it worse than it already was."

    Unfortunately, most of the people you see on the Crashers shows were actually found in home improvement stores, meaning your odds of manufacturing an appearance are slim.

    The Schmiedelers, for example, were selected to appear on Kitchen Crashers while shopping at Lowes. "We are looking for homeowners who really need and want a new kitchen, who will really appreciate it," Victoria, who also hosts HGTVs Windy City Rehab, said in 2012.

    Yard Crashers star Chris Lambton previously told Popsugar that viewers would be shocked by the number of individuals who turn down his offer for a free lawn makeover.

    "It's funny how many people when I walk up to them just say 'no' to me or walk away without talking much," he revealed. "That was one of the biggest surprises I found from doing Yard Crashers, how many people don't even want to talk to me."

    Though the DIY franchise does its best to be authentic, no reality show is 100 percent real. As one redditor noted in 2017, "My friends sister knew the [Yard Crashers] producer so they set it up where my friend would be at Lowes and then the host would surprise [him] and his wife. Far from random."

    We just care about the transformations.

    Excerpt from:
    Who Pays for 'Kitchen Crashers'? It Isn't Easy to Get Cast on the Show - Distractify

    Reno of the Month: Reston Lakefront Living at it’s Finest! – Reston Now - September 20, 2020 by Mr HomeBuilder

    By Nicola Caul Shelley, Synergy Design & Construction

    Its been a busy summer here at Synergy! Weve completed a number of beautiful home remodels in the area (while practicing COVID safety, of course) and have started a number of new projects.

    Although Labor Day usually marks the end of summer, were hoping for a few more warm days to take advantage of outdoor activities that can be safely enjoyed in these COVID times. One of the things we love about this area is the many lakes, local parks and trails and the opportunity to be outside enjoying nature. Its one of the reasons so many people are attracted to this area (and one of the reasons the housing market is so active right now)!

    It may not surprise you to know home remodeling is also in high demand. Now well into our seventh month of the COVID pandemic, many of us are looking at ways to maximize the use and enjoyment of our existing space. Lets face it, spending so much time at home is a surefire way to start you dreaming of that perfect kitchen or finally getting around to remodeling the basement!

    In keeping with our love of the local area, this months featured remodel is a Reston lakefront townhome. This remodel is a great example of not only how you can create a more open concept and better flow, but also how changing the internal layout of a home makes it look and feel much bigger (without the expense of an addition). It can also help you maximize some of the best features of your home in this case, a beautiful lake view.

    The key to the remodel of this home was creating a better flow throughout the main level and better use of space. Visible as soon as you entered the home, the original footprint included a large closet pantry at the entry to the kitchen. This not only took up a lot of square footage, it blocked the view to the lake and closed off the kitchen. We removed it and changed the door location (and size) of a separate coat closet for more efficient storage.

    We also removed a railing-height wall leading to the family room and replaced it with modern cable railing. This created a much more open concept that maximizes the gorgeous water views throughout the main level and brings the outside in. The space now feels bigger, brighter and more airy.

    Our clients piano was an important feature for them, so we removed an existing butlers pantry/bar, leaving the perfect nook for the piano. We added a dry bar to the other side of the room for additional storage and a buffet serving area. A large island with lots of seating now takes center stage in what used to be the dining area, and the large dining table was relocated to the step-down living area, which features an updated fireplace. The whole feel of this townhouse has been transformed.

    If youve been thinking of a home remodel for a while, be prepared production schedules are rapidly filling up for many home remodeling companies. Were now booking construction dates in late 2020 and early 2021, so if youve been thinking of a home remodel, dont delay and start the conversation now!

    Our no-obligation consultations are FREE and if you arent comfortable with having anyone in your home just yet, we also offer virtual consultations.

    Read the rest here:
    Reno of the Month: Reston Lakefront Living at it's Finest! - Reston Now

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