The choice seemed obvious, she said. Gretchen and her sister, Heather Schulze, had spent eight years working at the location in Addison. The restaurant is also where Heather met Ted, she said.
“It was a close, natural fit for us,” Gretchen said. “It's kind of a full circle thing.”
The couple are Dallas residents, but their children attend Richardson ISD schools, and they spend a lot of time in the city. They felt Richardson was in need of a neighborhood bar and restaurant, so in 2017, Heather, Gretchen and Ted opened Cafe Gecko’s third location on Campbell Road.
Though the restaurant is part of a franchise, the owners have found a way to make it unique. Cafe Gecko in Richardson offers a brunch menu as well as live music every Wednesday and on some weekends, Gretchen said.
“Over time, we put our own spin on the place,” she said. “It's still a Gecko, but it's definitely our version of it.”
Gretchen describes the restaurant’s food as “Eclectic American” fare. The pizzas are especially popular, she said. The No Regrets brunch pizza is a customer favorite and includes primavera sauce, bacon, spinach, and eggs. The restaurant’s queso and sour cream nachos are also big sellers, Gretchen said.
The bar offers a variety of cocktails and craft beer. One of the most popular drinks is a frozen margarita called the G$, Gretchen said.
Shutdowns meant to slow the spread of the coronavirus hit the restaurant hard, Gretchen said. Cafe Gecko would normally see thousands of dollars in sales on a Friday, but during stay-at-home orders, revenue dropped to a few hundred dollars, she said.
One of the restaurant’s top priorities was making sure all employees kept their jobs. Through reorganizing schedules, Cafe Gecko was able to keep their entire staff employed, Gretchen said.
The restaurant has held two food drives for the Network of Community Ministries. The decision to help was an easy one, Gretchen said.
“No matter how bad we have it, there's always someone that has it worse,” she said. “You just have to kind of remember that and do whatever you can.”
The restaurant reopened at 25% capacity on May 1. Though the community has been supportive, Gretchen said customers are nervous to dine in at restaurants.
“[Customers are] still super hesitant,” she said. “It's gonna take a while before people are confident coming back.”