After 49 years in the restaurant business — the last 29 owning and operating Russo’s in Marble Falls — Diane and John Russo II announced their retirement and the closing of the popular eatery off of U.S. 281. Staff photo by Alex Copeland
After 29 years at Russo’s restaurant and 49 years in the food service business, John Russo II is retiring and has closed his popular Texas-Italian fusion eatery in Marble Falls.
The Russos sent out an email Wednesday, Sept. 2, thanking the community for years of support and announcing their retirement and the closing of the restaurant. Austin-based Louisiana Crab Shack will lease the building, located at 602 Steve Hawkins Parkway, but there is no set date on when it will open.
“My sons (John III and Joseph), as we chatted, they wanted to go on to doing something else,” John Russo II said. “They’ve been doing this stuff since they were born, and it was time to look at some new adventure for them. My wife and I were at the stage, too, where we’ve only been doing this for 49 years. Maybe we need something else.”
The COVID-19 crisis didn’t help matters. Marble Falls is comprised of a large population that falls into the “danger zone” for contracting the virus, and business has been difficult, he said.
“With this bug business that’s going on, it finally just got to us and beat us up because there’s so much you don’t know from one day to the next,” Russo said. “You can be open, you can be closed, you gotta wear a mask, you don’t have to wear a mask, and you listen to all the nonsense on TV and it drives you crazy.”
The restaurant’s building had been on the market for a little more than a year, so when Russo’s real estate broker came to him with a lease offer, he hesitated but eventually took it.
“When these folks from Louisiana Crab Shack came to make us an offer for a lease, we thought about it and we thought about it and we realized that, well, maybe that’s not such a bad idea,” Russo said. “We said, ‘Okay, let’s do it.’”
The Russos have received messages from customers thanking them for the joy they’ve given their families throughout the years. The community outreach after the announcement has been moving, he said.
“We’ve been at it long enough here that we’ve touched three generations of people,” Russo said. “Even talking about it now, I get a little tear in my eye. It really gets you that people are so sweet to you simply because you treat them nice. That’s all we did.”