Tough breaks: Times are tough for most restaurants dealing with pandemic closures and restrictions while some patrons are fearful of venturing out at all. But for Sonny’s Place, a longtime Galveston eatery, it has been particularly difficult after a posting on TripAdvisor erroneously reported the iconic East End restaurant, 1206 19th St., had permanently closed.
Richard Puccetti, whose father, Lawrence Puccetti Jr., owns the restaurant, noticed something was amiss July 4, typically a busy day.
“We had one ticket on July 4 for the entire day,” Richard Puccetti said.
There’s some confusion about the source of the bad information and whether using the web search engine Bing caused the problem. But to make a long story short, after several calls the problem apparently was resolved by Wednesday, Puccetti said.
It all goes to show the dangers of online sites where the public can post information and reviews about businesses on a whim and without much thought about repercussions, Puccetti said.
“People can say whatever they want about you and you can’t do anything about it,” Richard Puccetti said.
COVID-19 has made staffing difficult because some employees are making more on unemployment than by working, Richard Puccetti said.
But Sonny’s appears to be dealing with a series of events, some unfortunate and some blessed.
The restaurant still plans to temporarily close while Richard Puccetti mends from a broken arm he suffered this week repairing the building. He’s the cook and he needs both arms to flip those huge burgers.
Meanwhile, his main waitress, Maria Ortiz, will soon go on maternity leave.
Big birthday: Still, Sonny’s Place will reopen in about a month, Richard Puccetti said. Along with the food, the restaurant is famous for signs warning “Behave or Be Gone” and “Please Watch Your Language” and has been around since 1944.
And despite all the hard luck, there’s still a very good reason to celebrate. Lawrence Puccetti Jr., known by locals as Junior, will celebrate his 90th birthday Aug. 4.
If the restaurant has reopened by then, the Puccettis hope to celebrate the big birthday there or at least through social media. Stay tuned.
Casual casualties: With more people working from home during the pandemic, office casual has taken on a whole new meaning. And it’s having a profound effect on dry-cleaning services.
“It’s always slower in the summer, but it’s really slow,” said Susie Read, owner of B&H Quality Cleaners, 1712 37th St. in Galveston.
B&H Quality likely will close until September when business usually picks up, Read said. It will use that time for maintenance.
Not only is business slow, but Read echos other business owners who lament the difficulty of hiring when federal pandemic relief pays more in unemployment. Finding workers these days hasn’t been easy, she said.
But Read intends to carry on the tradition begun by her parents, Ollie and Connie Read of Galveston, who bought B&H Quality Cleaners in 1965, she said.
Diving in: A Texas City development continues to hit milestones as it works toward a mid-county tourist destination to rival those in Galveston and Kemah. The general public soon will be able to take a dip in the 12-acre Crystal Lagoon at Lago Mar.
Developers in early June opened the lagoon to residents of Lago Mar, a 100-acre mixed-use entertainment destination still under development.
Soon, the 12-acre lagoon with the longest waterfront perimeter in the United States — 3240 Lago Mar Blvd. in Texas City — will be open to the public 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Wednesdays through Sundays from Wednesday through Sept. 13.
Developers intend to follow strict social distancing guidelines and other pandemic precautions.
“The Lago Mar Lagoon is so large it’s the ideal place to enjoy the summer while practicing social distancing,” said Uri Man, president of the Lagoon Development Co. “It’s a controlled environment where the capacity is monitored and controlled so at no point will there be overcrowding.”
Numerous protocols will be in place, including operating at less than 50 percent capacity, officials said. Face masks are required for entry and in designated areas, such as food and beverage lines, merchandise locations and other high-traffic areas.
Staff members also will wear masks and undergo daily temperature checks and health screenings. Beach and lawn furniture will be cleaned and sanitized regularly, and all restrooms and other high-traffic areas will be sanitized frequently, officials said.
Along with the lagoon’s white-sand beaches and turquoise waters, guests will be able to play on an inflatable obstacle course, reserve cabanas and ride kayaks, sailboats and stand-up paddle boards, developers said. Food trucks also will be on site, officials said.
“We’ve fast-tracked opening a section of the lagoon for ticketed use to satisfy the immense demand we’ve been seeing since the resident portion opened up in early June,” Man said.
The lagoon offers a mile of shoreline, holds 24 million gallons of water and has a surface equivalent to about 1,350 home swimming pools.
Future phases of development around the lagoon are planned to include hotels, condo buildings, retail, dining and entertainment, as well as a separate pay-for-access club with multiple beaches for the general public with a cabana pool, a two-story swim-up bar on an island, a kid’s beach with water features and a beachfront center for corporate events, weddings and concerts.
Land Tejas caused jaws to drop in 2005 when it announced plans for Lago Mar on land east and west of I-45 from just north of FM 1764 to Holland Road. The Land Tejas property is all on the west side of I-45 and consists of 2,033 acres. Another 1,300 acre tract east of I-45 is part of Lago Mar but owned by two companies not affiliated with Land Tejas.
Land Tejas alone is planning about 4,000 home sites in gated and non-gated communities.
Royal coup: In promising economic development news for Friendswood, Castle Biosciences has leased space at a new four-story office building nearing completion at 505 S. Friendswood Drive, which is more than twice the size of its existing offices in the north county city, reports Barbara Cutsinger of the Bay Area Houston Economic Partnership.
The company develops and sells diagnostic and prognostic tests for dermatologic cancers. It now employs 40 people and plans to grow its local headcount to 60 by the end of the year. Much of the company’s research and development and clinical research operations are based in Phoenix with another 100 employees, Cutsinger reports.
Buzzcation: Biz Buzz will return July 25.