One of SA’s most-celebrated chefs sees dim future for business

Most of the chain’s dining rooms were closed by March 17

Picture of Chef McHugh. Photo Courtesy: Gabe Hernandez | SABJ
Picture of Chef McHugh. Photo Courtesy: Gabe Hernandez | SABJ (SABJ)

SAN ANTONIOEditor’s note: This story was published through a partnership between the San Antonio Business Journal and KSAT.

One of San Antonio’s most-lauded chefs should be celebrating being named a finalists for the most-celebrated award in the culinary world, instead, he’s facing the possibility of losing all he’s built.

Chef Steve McHugh, owner of Pearl-located restaurant Cured, was named a 2020 James Beard finalist for "Best Chef" in Texas, the first time the foundation has received a nomination in the state category after previously named a finalist four times from 2016 to 2019 within the Southwest category.

It should be a time of celebration and an influx of foodie tourism. Instead the Covid-19 pandemic has crushed McHugh and his restaurant. He had to furlough all but two of his 50 employees, he told the Business Journal.

"I'm now a short order line cook, and it's a really odd time to to even think about trying to grow or push or move forward when, you're not even sure if there's going to be a Cured a year from now, it's just really, really strange," McHugh said. "[My wife and I] have been running this restaurant for almost two months, not collecting a paycheck."

He has applied for all available business assistance, including the Paycheck Protection Program. He's still waiting to hear back.

McHugh is also a cancer survivor, which has him taking extra precautions to watch his health as his restaurant offers to-go orders. He also has his two remaining employees get temperature checks, wear face masks, and wash their hands as soon as they enter into work.

He has also refused to open his dining area at 25% capacity, the maximum allowed for businesses like restaurants to have within their locations per Gov. Abbott's plan to open Texas, even though he does have people that call wanting to make reservations.

Read more on this story at the San Antonio Business Journal.