Ivar’s River Pub was granted a permit allowing it to sell alcohol at its location at 701 Cheatham St., San Marcos, on Tuesday night.
“We’re excited about it,” co-owner Curtis Gunnarson said. “I think with our help, with the city and our architect and engineers we’ve come up with a great plan that will make the property and building better than ever.”
Gunnarson said the restaurant was requesting the permit to sell alcohol until midnight to be competitive in a restaurant market that is more crowded than he remembers. The restaurant, which was previously called the River Pub, was open until 2013, when it closed because of remodeling and flooding issues.
“One of the biggest changes that I’ve noticed to San Marcos is the number of restaurants, especially chain restaurants, that you have here,” he said. “That’s why we’re here tonight, seeking the [permit] to sell alcohol. It would be very difficult if we’re not granted this. It would be at a disadvantage to us economically to compete with some of these other restaurants in town.”
Residents who live near the property were divided on their support or opposition of the project.
Raymond Stone, who lives near the property, said he was encouraged by some of the concessions the property owners were making in their plans to reopen the business.
“They seem to be turning over a new leaf,” Stone said. “They seem to be doing some of the remediation that is absolutely necessary. That is all very positive.”
Stone said he was concerned about the hours the restaurant would be open. Before its 2013 closure patrons of the River Pub created a nuisance in the nearby neighborhood.
“When they were open late we had serious problems with their customers,” Stone said. “We had people literally urinating in our flowerbeds.”
The restaurant will be allowed to stay open no later than midnight, seven days a week. Additionally, live music will be allowed until 9 p.m. each day.
Commissioners and residents also voiced concerns related to flooding. The building is located within the San Marcos River Corridor, and the finished floor elevation is below the city’s standard, which requires the floor to be one foot above the 100-year flood level.
“There is a 100 percent chance it will flood again,” Commissioner Betsygail Rand said. “That is a foregone conclusion that it will flood, probably within the next couple of months. That’s just the nature of this area. I do have concerns about how to protect the river and the foreseeable, predictable certainty that it will flood and recover and flood and recover.”
The owners’ planned building improvements include an elevation of the structure above the 100-year flood plain. The owners are also remodeling the interior of the structure and plan to provide improved access for those with disabilities.
“As far as flooding, it’s inevitable, but that building has been there for years,” Commissioner Lee Porterfield said. “It’s nice that they’re, for their own sake and their business’s, that they’re taking the time and doing this remodel and doing it the right way.”
Lori Gunnarson, who co-owns the business along with her cousin Curtis, said the Gunnarson family is hoping to reopen the restaurant by late spring or early summer. She anticipates the restaurant will begin hiring in April.
The menu will likely feature staples from the restaurant’s previous iteration, such as Mexican martinis, which she said customers who have been following the restaurant’s progress have been mentioning often on their Facebook page.
There will likely be some new menu additions too, she said.
“There is a very, very strong probability that the Mexican martinis will make it back on the menu,” she said. “Curtis wants to bring back a lot of the old favorites, but he also wants to introduce some new menu items he’s still working on and make it so that people who remember the pub from the past there will see some of the old favorites.”