Boerne restaurant’s memo on COVID-19 vaccination policy goes viral, causes misunderstanding

Owner said the memo was not intended to go public and was taken out of context

BOERNE – While small businesses were struggling to pay their employees and stay open during the COVID-19 pandemic, Guy Sanders, owner of the hill country restaurant Richter Tavern in Boerne, was opening his.

Sanders and his wife both invested in what they called a rundown antique mall in the center of Boerne and turned it into a thriving restaurant. The restaurant is now a three-story, refurbished industrial dining experience.

Sanders said the pandemic was not easy to navigate through, but he kept his business running and his employees paid.

“Had we simply shut the doors and sent everyone home until today, I would be over half a million dollars in debt,” Sanders said.

He instead decided to continue paying his employees during the shutdown, covered emergency care, and even covered the cost for COVID-19 testing.

Sanders had recently posted a memo that highlighted he would not be covering medical expenses for an unvaccinated employee who was to become sick. A position almost all of his staff was on board with, except a new hire who took offense to the memo.

“We’re here to service Boerne and in San Antonio, the community. And that’s all I want to do. I don’t want to be talking about vaccines. I don’t want to be talked about, but I want to be making great food and creating great experiences,” said Sanders.

Shanna Laughy, an employee at Richters Tavern, said Sanders was already going above and beyond for his employees.

“That’s not an uncommon thing for companies to do, especially in the restaurant industry. The restaurant industry does not provide medical. It’s very rare that you would see a restaurant of any kind offer employee benefits,” said Laughy.

Laughy said the new employee never addressed any issues with them and perhaps did not understand the company’s culture.

“Our newer employees don’t understand. The ones who weren’t here during the pandemic when the shutdown happened and Guy was giving us family meals. And even if we weren’t working, we got fed every day. We got paid every day,” said Laughy.

Sanders has since rescinded the memo and provided new verbiage in regards to his employees and COVID-19.

“Any employee that comes up vaccinated or not vaccinated at this point, I don’t care if they get sick, I’ll take care of them. If they don’t get sick, I’m still going to take care of them,” said Sanders.

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About the Authors:

Jonathan Cotto is a reporter for KSAT’s Good Morning San Antonio. He’s a bilingual award-winning news reporter and he joined KSAT in 2021. Before coming to San Antonio, Cotto was reporting along the U.S.-Mexico border in South Texas. He’s a veteran of the United States Navy.

Before starting KSAT in 2017, Lee was a photojournalist at KENS 5, where he won a Lone Star Emmy in 2014 for Best Weather Segment. In 2009 and 2010 Lee garnered first-place awards with the Texas Association of Broadcasters for Best Investigative Series in College Station, as well as winning first place for Staff Photojournalism in 2011 at KBTX.