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Report: Austin sees a 13% increase in new business applications during COVID-19

People dine at Love Supreme Pizza Bar, a newer restaurant in East Austin. (Austonia)

At Sweet Lemon Kitchen, Rachel Cummins has wowed Georgetown residents with fan favorites from her diner like their honey creme latte, chicken salad sandwiches and cinnamon rolls. And now, she’s preparing to open up shop for a cafe called Little Lemon at the downtown library.

She’s one of the many who have decided to open a business during the pandemic. A new report by Self Financial saw that from 2019 to 2020, the Austin-Round Rock-Georgetown metro region saw a 13% increase in new business applications, showing that COVID-19 hasn’t slowed people down entirely and some are confident about their chances of drawing people in even during a pandemic.

“Just based on what we’re doing here at Sweet Lemon, we felt that it would be successful,” Cummins said. “We have a good customer base and this just gives them a different option.

The report notes that retail showed the largest uptick in new business applications, followed by transportation and warehousing and administrative and support.

(Self Financial)

But as Ryan McElroy, co-owner of Love Supreme and Bird Bird Biscuit said, it’s also important to look at the losses that have happened during the pandemic. With the opening of Love Supreme last spring and a new Bird Bird Biscuit, two other businesses had closed in their place.

“It’s kind of like a one for one exchange more than a good new addition,” McElroy said.

Austin has lost some iconic places since March 2020, like Threadgills and Shady Grove, and recently with Spider House.

And opening a business at this time means having to roll with some punches.

“April, May when we opened Love Supreme, that was fantastically difficult,” McElroy said. “I mean just like amazingly difficult. We barely got open.”

That’s because hiring at this time has become a major challenge.

“Going out there and trying to find an opening team is still, I think, probably really hard,” McElroy said. “I don’t envy anybody who’s out there trying to hire 25 people all at once, that’s a difficult place to be.”

Compared to other regions, Austin was behind. The Houston-Woodlands-Sugar Land metro region had a 37% increase in business applications while the nation saw a 24% increase.


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