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Signs of life in downtown Marble Falls

Downtown Marble Falls returning to life

As Texas begins to reopen, so, too, does downtown Marble Falls. Some shops are returning to business as usual, while others are opening for the first time. Staff photo by Alex Copeland

In downtown Marble Falls over Memorial Day weekend, looking past the face masks, ever-present bottles of hand sanitizer, and reduced capacity of some businesses, it almost seemed like things were back to normal.

Some shops are returning to business as usual, while others are preparing to open for the first time in the coming months, undeterred by COVID-19 restrictions passed down from Gov. Greg Abbott.

“We’ve really seen a good amount of people through here,” said Sheryl Westerman, owner of Birdie’s Market. “We’re not worried about capacity anyway because we’re not like a restaurant that gets full. We have people trickle through all day long. We’ve had it go completely back to normal.”

Birdie’s, which plans to expand into an additional storefront over the summer, even had a better showing this Memorial Day weekend over last year’s.

“It’s been such a relief that people would come back for us,” Westerman said. “I think people are anxious to get back to normal. I think being in the home decor and furniture business was a good move for us because people are wanting to make their homes more of a wonderful place to be right now because it’s a sanctuary.”

Downtown shops also benefited from the Marble Falls/Lake LBJ Chamber of Commerce’s inaugural open-air market held in Old Oak Square on May 23, said Lee Ann Clark of Sugar Mama Cookies.

“We had a great weekend,” she said. “Lots of people came out, and we were busy even till past closing. We were open a little later Saturday. We had a good Friday, too, with people coming and getting stuff to take to the lake. For us, it was very good.”

Clark said the shutdown had been hard on business. When neighbor Bill’s Burgers shut its doors in April, it affected her business as well.

“Bill’s was a huge pull for us,” she said. “People would come to get lunch or dinner (at Bill’s) and then come get dessert (at Sugar Mama). We’re so sad that they’re gone.”

It was another blow when J&J’s on Main closed as well.

“That was another nice little triangle of kid stuff with myself, Lollipop (Parties and Gifts), and J&J’s,” Clark said. “We kind of banded together, and we had a kind of party package for the kids.”

Families would register for a birthday at Lollipop, go to J&J’s to get ice cream, and then visit Sugar Mama for a birthday cupcake.

However, prospects are good for more downtown businesses. The property manager for the vacant Bill’s Burgers location said another restaurant is interested, and the J&J’s owner has turned over the keys to new owners, who plan to serve ice cream, fudge, and other food.

New businesses to Main Street include Oli’s Kitchen Bar & Grill On Main, which opened in early May, and Bernie’s Art Gallery, which plans a soft opening in early June.

“While we’ve taken a big hiccup for three months now, I see things will get better,” Clark said. “It’s picking back up, so I see good things happening in the future.”