The COVID-19 pandemic has hit communities across the globe hard and has also adversely impacted the world economy. And no group has been harder hit than small businesses, especially restaurants. Some in Plano were successfully able to quickly pivot from dine-in to take out and delivery service while others decided to shut down temporarily or permanently.
Tony’s Café, which was located at 909 W. Spring Creek Parkway, and had been in business since 1989, went the take out and curbside route for several months and even welcomed a limited number of customers back for dine-in service once they were able to partially reopen.
However, after their air conditioning went out in early June, a main breaker burned out and their landlord was unwilling to work with them, owners Lina and Tony Richa decided to call it quits, announcing the permanent closing of Tony’s on Facebook on June 27.
“It’s tragic,” Lina said.
And yes, the pandemic was one key factor in their decision.
“Well, the pandemic accelerated it. We’ve been thinking about retiring for the last couple years and how to do it and everything,” Tony said. “That’s not the end we hoped for, but we had no choice. The circumstances and the landlord’s lack of cooperation and problems with the electricity, the AC, all these and COVID-19 lack of business, it made it next to impossible to continue.”
Over the last 31 years, the Richas had developed a solid base of customers, a group they came to regard as extended family. That’s exactly why closing so abruptly is hard to swallow for this hard-working couple.
“It hurts not to see the people. They are family to us,” Lina said. “We loved our business and we have a history there. I was expecting my daughter when we opened. It’s so sad to get to that point in your life, to sell at least. You have a legacy, you have clientele, you have a reputation. We’re not ready to retire retire. We’re not that old, but we were consumed by the facts.”
The Richas take incredible pride in serving the Plano community great food for over three decades and for creating a spot where customers became friends.
“We did live the American dream, I can tell you that,” Lina said.
They won’t rule out returning to the Plano restaurant scene in the future, once things normalize, but will see how the future presents itself before making any decisions.
“We will wait and see. We don’t mind being in business,” Lina Richa said. “It’s a responsibility when you own a business because if you have pride, you have to do it the right way. We’ll wait and see but I don’t mind later having a job, helping people. I believe we succeeded [at that].”
Plano restaurants that have announced permanent closures during the pandemic:
In April founder Jaime Wiggins closed her Downtown Plano and Allen locations specializing in cake balls after starting the concept in her home seven years ago.
Barnes & Noble Kitchen
The restaurant and the Legacy West bookstore it sat inside have been closed since June 26.
Beyond Veggies Grill
The eatery offered create-your-own bowls, salads, tacos and wraps using animal- and plant-based meats, but the phone number to the now-former Plano location has been disconnected.
Brix Bar & Grill
Popular spot in Downtown Plano had been open since 2016 but owners Brett and Julie Pope opted to close for good on April 28.
The second location of this Hot Springs, Arkansas-based operation opened in May 2019 and closed in March.
First DFW location of the California-based chain had been in business since fall 2014.
Renowned Asian-Hawaiian spot off the Dallas North Tollway had been in operation since 2002 and closed its only Texas location in March.
Sip & Savor
The California-inspired restaurant and wine bar in the old Wells family homestead on Coit Road closed in March at the onset of the pandemic.
Tony and Lina Richa announced their decision to retire on June 27.
This relatively new all-vegan kitchen just off The Boardwalk at Granite Park closed in late May.
The Japanese restaurant announced on its website it would close on April 30.
Updates from the editor:
Barnes & Noble Kitchen closure was added July 3.