More than one year after closing its doors during the coronavirus pandemic, The Downtowner Bar & Kitchen officially reopened April 8.
The restaurant, which has been open since 2016, initially closed March 17 following stay-at-home orders and chose not to reopen at a limited capacity like many other local restaurants.
“We looked at it as a risk management kind of thing,” owner Chad Niland said. “We just didn’t want to spend the money to open when we weren’t sure if we were going to have to close down again.”
Though Niland and his business partners own the restaurant building and do not pay rent, Niland said closing still cost the business nearly $50,000 in payroll and other expenses immediately following its closure.
As local coronavirus case counts began to decline, vaccines became available and the statewide mask mandate was lifted, Niland and his team began planning to reopen.
“We decided that we either had to get rid of the business or open back up,” Niland said. “We decided to open back up, and that presented a whole other set of issues.”
The price of ingredients and cleaning supplies has increased significantly over the last year, Niland said, and he has worked to adjust menu prices to offset costs.
Like several other businesses in New Braunfels, Niland has also struggled to hire enough staff for the restaurant as many employees have found other jobs or left the industry.
“We cannot be open all the hours we want to be open because we don’t have enough cooks,” Niland said. “Restaurants are adjusting hours; restaurants are shortening their menus; restaurants are having to raise their price. I hope the customers understand that. We can either be open like this, or we can not be or not be open at all.”
The restaurant will be open Thursdays-Fridays 4-10 p.m. and Saturdays-Sundays 9 a.m.-3 p.m. and will feature a new menu centered on high-end comfort food and craft cocktails.