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Russo’s restaurant closes after 29 years

Russo's restaurant in Marble Falls closes

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.”

8 thoughts on “Russo’s restaurant closes after 29 years

  1. Really ?? Russo’s was a fabulous place for so many years !! I loved Johns cheffing …he would always whip up something special if you asked !! They were a mainstay in this community and we loved them ! We had many group gatherings…sometimes last minute and they always accommodated us. Happy Memories !!

  2. After 29 years of Great Food, Service & Friendship I’m surprised to see so many bad reviews. I guess some folk’s continue to wake up on the wrong side of the bed. Thank You John, Diane & Family for 29 Great Years of Service!!! You will be dearly missed by so many of us. God Bless …

  3. I feel that part of their closing might have had to do with all their political signage out front and in the restaurant. It amazes me in this area how very little thought business owners give to the patrons of their businesses. It is, of course, their right to express themselves any way they want…but if you are really in the business of customer service then you should be politically neutral in the work environment so that you do not alienate or exclude potential customers. Their prices were also very expensive for the quality. If I am going to spend that kind of money I will drive into Austin. I am sad to see any business in our area fail, but perhaps the Crab Shack will have better luck… that property has some of the very best views around!

  4. I cannot believe that place stayed open for 29 years. My husband and I went there once. The service was so bad, we walked out and never went back.

  5. Nice people and good food. I always respected them for hiring some people with challenges. However, I stopped eating there after I walked in and saw the offensive sign that basically said if you don’t agree with their political views, leave. It’s their right to do that, but I didn’t agree with what the sign said, so I did as the sign asked and left and never went back.

  6. Salads were very good and the view was fantastic. We’ll miss you. (But looking forward to some crab.)

  7. The worst meals and worst service I have ever had. Good riddance.

    1. Yeah, the service wasn’t bad, a little slow, but the food…not good. Texas-Italian if you think of Olive Garden as Italian…not sure what the Texas infusion was. Went once – not enjoyable, went back as any place could have an off-night…was worse so haven’t returned. Good restaurants are lacking out here – some recent openings have the options looking up. Something new here would be good to have.

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