Two San Marcos restaurants temporarily close after positive COVID-19 cases


SAN MARCOS, Texas (KXAN) — Just days after the governor allowed restaurants to expand to 50-percent capacity, two San Marcos restaurants have temporarily closed their doors after employees tested positive for COVID-19, according to the businesses’ Facebook pages.

In a post on Sunday, May 24, Fuego Tortilla Grill announced one of their employees began to feel symptoms sometime after their last day of work on Sunday, May 17. The business said the employee was tested on Tuesday, May 19 and results came back Sunday, May 24.

The business said they closed as soon as they got those test results.

In an email to KXAN, owner David Lovelace said they “were heartbroken to learn an employee had tested positive” and that there is no set reopening date, yet.

We are learning how to cope with COVID-19 alongside our community and leaning on resources, including the local health department, CDC, etc. to guide our actions. We consider the local health department our partners in public health and safety. Their directives and recommendations will directly impact our timeline, process, and procedures moving forward. We are overwhelmed with gratitude for all the outpouring of support towards our business and our employees. We are truly blessed to be apart of such a supportive community that lifts each other up in times of need.

David Lovelace, Fuego Tortilla Grill owner

Garcia’s Restaurant on Wonder World Drive announced their decision to close on Saturday, May 23.

In a Facebook post the next day, owners say two employees began to feel ill during phase one of state’s reopening plan, in which restaurants were allowed to reopen limited dine-in capacity.

According to the post, owners say they shut down the restaurant as soon as they got the positive test results.

In a preemptive move, a third restaurant in San Marcos now says it will be switching from dine-in back to curbside business only.

Herbert’s Taco Hut manager Ruthy Rizk says even though the governor had cleared restaurants to operate at 50% capacity, they were running at 25% until this week.

Then, despite a 50% increase in sales, she and her husband made the tough decision to move back to curbside only business.

Ruthy Rizk says even with only about 20 people allowed to dine-in at once, sales shot up during their reopening. (KXAN/Tahera Rahman)

“We noticed that some businesses were having issues pop up with COVID cases coming up. We both really felt strongly that that probably has to do with people dining in, again,” she says.

The decision meant a financial cut and having to let go dine-in staff that they had rehired just weeks ago.

“It was the hardest thing to let them know, once again, we’re going to have to cut you,” Rizk says.

Still, Rizk says she’s confident in her decision.

“That is the most important thing to us; the safety of our customers, staff, our community,” she says.

City response

San Marcos’ emergency management coordinator says while they anticipated an increase in positive cases.

“Emergency management world, it’s not a surprise. We kind of anticipated a little of this happening,” says coordinator Rachel Ingle.

But they don’t have the authority to issue mandates and it’s up to local businesses to enforce best practices.

“As the governor opens things up, a lot of that we don’t have control over,” Ingle says.

Ingle says they have a hotline for businesses that need help reopening safely: 512.393.5930.

She also encourages the public to protect themselves, too.

“As far as enforcing or implementing a mandatory use of any personal protective equipment or anything like that, that’s not in our purview at the moment,” Ingle says.

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