Nestle Toll House Cafe closing after pandemic financial blows

“It was such a good dream and and it just unfortunately came at a bad time or the last two years have been the bad time,” Sherry Ramirez said

SAN ANTONIO – The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic are still being felt, especially for small and locally owned businesses.

One, in particular, the Nestle Toll House Cafe off Loop 1604, now has a handwritten closed sign.

“It’s just, we’re just not able to keep up with all the bills and make ends meet,” said Sherry Ramirez, owner of the cookie shop.

In November 2020, the community showed up for Ramirez.

The support allowed her to get through 2021, but Monday marks the end of her dream.

“I really started this cafe to be a light to this community and help people out,” Ramirez said.

The rising cost of supplies, labor, and delays in the supply chain is forcing her hand.

“It just at a point right now that I just don’t see us recovering from all that COVID has brought to us,” Ramirez said.

The cookie shop isn’t alone. Kelsey Erickson Streufert, chief public affairs officer of the Texas Restaurant Association, said the association estimated 9,000 to 10,000 restaurants closed in Texas during the pandemic.

“Now, we’re worried, frankly, that we’re going to see another wave of closures that is directly tied to those cost increases,” Erickson Streufert said.

TRA is helping. It’s starting a grant program that is expected to open in early summer.

“Specifically for hospitality and tourism businesses that have been impacted by the pandemic,” Erickson Streufert said.

However, that assistance is just not soon enough for Ramirez.

“It hurts really bad. This is my baby. And I invested my whole life savings in this place,” Ramirez said.

The Small Business Administration no longer offers new pandemic assistance, but their original resources and assistance are available.

Locally owned businesses needing help close to home can click here for more information on the SBA’s assistance.

About the Authors

Leigh Waldman is an investigative reporter at KSAT 12. She joined the station in 2021. Leigh comes to San Antonio from the Midwest after spending time at a station in Omaha, NE. After two winters there, she knew it was time to come home to Texas. When Leigh is not at work, she enjoys eating, playing with her dogs and spending time with family.

Gavin Nesbitt is a photojournalist and video editor who joined KSAT in September 2021. He has traveled across the great state of Texas to film, conduct interviews and edit many major news stories, including the White Settlement church shooting, Hurricane Hanna, 2020 presidential campaigns, Texas border coverage and the Spurs.

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