The coronavirus has felled a Dallas institution: Highland Park Cafeteria, located at the Casa Linda Plaza in East Dallas, will not be re-opening.
Owner Jeff Snoyer confirmed that, after nearly a century of serving chicken fried steak, chicken and dumplings, and fried chicken, the restaurant is closing for good.
"With this virus, we feel like it's taking so long to recover that it's going to be too hard to hang in there," he says. "And then, even if we were to reopen, with all of the restrictions required, it will be difficult for us to survive."
Those restrictions include being open at only 25 percent, as well as restrictions on the cafeteria-style model that the restaurant observes.
Snoyer originally hoped the closure would be temporary.
"We wanted to keep going and we even bought all new equipment," Snoyer says. "We were trying to think positive, but the only way we do well with our prices so low is to have a high volume of customers. We would usually serve 25,000 meals a month."
HPC dates back to 1925, and swelled to eight locations including its longtime Knox Street flagship before closing in 2006. Snoyer rescued the Casa Linda Plaza location and reopened it in 2007. It was one of the few non-chain cafeteria-style restaurants and had a loyal following dating back decades, with old-timey dishes such as liver and onions, Waldorf salad, pies, and Jell-O.
In 2019, it also earned a spot on a treasured Food & Wine list of best cafeterias.
Snoyer says it's "heartbreaking" for his staff of 65 employees.
"Some have worked for HPC for more than 30 years," he says. "I have so much appreciation for someone who comes in at 7:30 every morning, happy to peel potatoes and do their job."
They'll be hosting an auction of all their fixtures, the proceeds of which will go to employees.
"If anyone wants a keepsake,we'll be doing an online auction, beginning Friday May 15," he says. "All contents of the cafeteria, including memorabilia, non-perishable food supplies, furniture and equipment will be sold through ATXauctions.com."
All perishable and frozen food is being donated to local organizations.
Snoyer says that they'll be keeping the recipes on the chance that they're able to reopen at some point down the road. "Zucchini muffins may one day make a comeback," he says.