Grins Restaurant, with a sign that says it is “World Famous Since 1975,” has temporarily closed its San Marcos business due to employee concerns of coronavirus.
“We have done everything right,” said Paul Sutphen, one of the owners of the restaurant at 802 N. LBJ Drive, known for its food, deck and margaritas. “We have too many employees that are scared.”
No employees of the restaurant have tested positive for coronavirus, Sutphen said.
The busiest time of year will not be busy at all right now, as the longtime partners in the business closed June 8 until confidence is restored and coronavirus numbers are steady. On June 8, Hays County recorded 43 new cases with 180 tests.
Prior to opening on May 1, to a maximum 25% of its 250 capacity, Grins’ ownership installed Plexiglass guards, made menus available at the table by QR code to read on phones, and adhered to the many regulations of distancing and safety set forth by Gov. Greg Abbott and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Sutphen said he will seek more guidance regarding opening again from Hays County epidemiologist Eric Schneider.
“Gloves, masks, everything cleaned several times a day, I’d say we have been good, an A+,” Sutpehn said. “I think we are doing the best that we can. We want to educate [ourselves] and continue to do it the right way.”
Sutphen, the original cook at the restaurant when it opened in 1975, said he expected cases to rise with the state’s reopening, but he also wants employees to be comfortable. He said he understands the concerns of coronavirus.
The restaurant made it through the first 10 weeks of coronavirus doing takeout, losing about 10%-15% of revenue. Sutphen said the restaurant has continued to hire staff in anticipation of the busy tourist season and return of some students to Texas State University.
“A lot of our employees are college students, and they have to decide to go to the river, or go to a birthday party,” Sutphen said. “It’s tough for us, and we want to make sure our employees are taken care of. We feel this is the best decision right now.”
With comfort of employees and customers at the forefront, Sutphen did not have a reopen date in mind.
“Everybody is in the same boat right now, and we haven’t been in this situation,” he said. “We can’t make the decision based on monetary needs. It’s just the right thing to do.”
Editor's note: The headline of this story was updated to reflect new information in the update.