Shutdown has businesses, employees worried


The scourge of the coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, has come to Gonzales in a big way. Even though there are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Gonzales as of press time, city, county and state officials have tried to take precautions to halt the spread of the deadly virus.

On Thursday of last week, Governor Greg Abbott issued an edict forcing the shutdown of all bars, restaurants, gyms and nursing homes among other things in an effort to contain the virus. Abbott’s decree allows restaurants and bars that sell food to take call-in orders, curbside delivery and provide delivery. The indoor dining areas are closed to the public until at least April 3.

In Gonzales, it has meant a fundamental change in the food and beverage industry. Some businesses have closed their doors until the decree is lifted, including Spanky’s and the Long Branch Saloon. Other businesses have limited hours but are offering different services to help feed the public. Regardless, the impact is profound.

“It affects us tremendously,” said Payton Mills, the bar manager at the Running M. “This affects all of us. There are 32 people who work here, and we are going to have to lay some of them off. We are a big family here but the financial loss the business and the employees are going to feel is awful.”

Marlene Metzler who owns the Running M was saddened and heartbroken over the events taking place in the world.

“I don’t know how we all our going to get through this,” Metzler said. “I’ll take it day-by-day, but it’s my employees and the devastating effect it’s going to have on them that just makes me want to cry. It’s absolutely heartbreaking but as my son told me, we’ll all get through this somehow. We’ll just have to wait and see what happens.”

Johnny Hoffpauir, the owner of Johnny’s Cajun Cafe located next to Circle G just south of Gonzales, tried to be philosophical.

“We’ll have to wait and see what happens, but yes, it’s going to be hard on the business. Just how hard, we’ll have to see.

“What I’m really concerned about is the effect it is going to have on my wait staff. They are all single moms and for many, this is their only income and means of support.”

Shauna East has worked at Johnny’s for two years, and she is not sure about her financial future.

“I think it’s ridiculous, but I get it,” East said. “This is going to hurt a lot financially and I don’t know how I’m going to get through this, but I guess I’ll have to find a way.”

At the Acapulco, the workers are accepting the change as being inevitable.

“What can we do; the decree has been issued and we can’t open our dining area,” said an employee who asked to not be identified. “We have a drive thru, and we will operate that during our normal business hours. But now when you drive thru, we can sell you a margarita to take home!”

For the businesses that have closed their doors, the impact will be felt immediately.

“I’m hopeful that this will resolve itself in a relatively short period of time,” said Long Branch Saloon owner Karen Jacobs. “If this goes on for a prolonged period of time I don’t know if we can make it.”

Jacobs has set up a GoFundMe page to seek local help.

Rosie Brown, the owner of Spanky’s, was still trying to figure out what the shutdown means for.

“We’re OK for now,” Brown said. “I don’t like it and it’s going to cost me financially, but we’ll get through this somehow.”

For a complete list of restaurants and bars that are serving take out, call in or offering delivery services, check out the adjoining graphic for details or check out our Facebook page.