‘Heartbreaking’ closure

Another iconic Austin restaurant permanently closes after 28-year run

Another iconic Austin restaurant permanently closes after 28-year run

The current pandemic has claimed yet another iconic Austin restaurant. Citing economic devastation caused by the COVID-19 economic crisis, Shady Grove, a fixture on Barton Springs Road for nearly 30 years, closed permanently on May 11.

“It’s heartbreaking,” says Marsha Milam, who handled music programming and PR for the restaurant.

Shady Grove — hailed for its Southwestern-style food, potent margaritas, cozy tree-shaded setting, and free “Unplugged at the Grove” outdoor concert series — opened in 1992 at 1624 Barton Springs Rd.

Mike Young and John Zapp, owners of Austin-based Tex-Mex chain Chuy’s, founded Shady Grove.

Since mid-March, Shady Grove’s dining room had been shut down amid the coronavirus outbreak. But it continued to offer pickup and delivery service.

Milam says the pandemic clobbered the restaurant “like a million bucks.” The restaurant was unable to survive, even though Texas restaurants now can provide limited seating.

“You can’t operate at 25 percent or 50 percent or 75 percent [capacity],” Milam says.

Following service on May 11, current co-owner Rusty Zagst posted a goodbye message on the restaurant's website, thanking customers for three decades of loyalty. 

"Though my heart is heavy, it is full of gratitude and pride for what has truly been a magical journey of 28 years," he wrote. "It’s been a privilege to serve this city we love so much. I am thankful for all our wonderful customers for sharing their lives and experiences with us as together we’ve watched our town grow into the big city."

Shady Grove is just the latest restaurant to shutter due to the coronavirus-induced economic shutdown. Threadgill's, Enchiladas y Mas, and the Tarrytown location of Magnolia Cafe have also closed in recent weeks.