By Gaige Davila
South Padre Island staple Ted’s Restaurant is closing its doors permanently this Sunday, unexpectedly, after 43 years serving food to locals and tourists alike.
“I’m so not ready for this, but it is what it is,” owner Karen Kennett told the PRESS, sitting at the restaurant she’s owned since 1982.
Ted’s Restaurant will close officially on Sunday, Dec. 20, having to vacate their building completely by the end of the month.
Kennett sold the property, originally owned by her parents, after her divorce. In June this year, the property was sold again, with the new owners saying Ted’s could remain there. Recently, however, the building’s new owners changed their minds. Under its new owners, only listed as 5717 Padre Blvd LLC, in property records, Ted’s Restaurant’s building will become a golf cart rental and water sports facility, according to Kennett.
“I’ve had people coming here in tears,” Kennett said. “I have customers coming in every single morning for breakfast and they don’t know where they want to go now. There’s nothing quite like Teds on the Island.”
Ted’s Restaurant has changed little since opening in 1978, save for switching the entrance, originally located in the rear of the restaurant, to the left side of the building. Known for its “award-winning” fajitas (the recipe made by Kennett’s father, the “Islander” breakfast plate, pecan pancakes and more, the small restaurant on the northern end of the Island is a local favorite. A few Mexican dishes have been added to the menu, but the food, and the affordable prices, have remained the same.
Ted’s Restaurant was started by Kennett’s half-brother, Ted, a Navy man who moved from California to South Texas, building the restaurant on the property owned by Kennett’s parents.
Ted owned the restaurant for four years before leaving South Padre Island. Karen, in 1982, took over the restaurant.
Kennett planned to have the restaurant for another five years, she told the PRESS, before the owners said to vacate. Kennett’s employees, most of whom have been working at Ted’s around 20 years, have second jobs they can go to. Kennett is considering employment options in her post-restaurateur life. Life for all revolved around the restaurant, with Kennett employing both of her sons there as they were raised.
Jonathan Delgado worked at Parrot Eyes Watersports next door to Ted’s Restaurant from 2011 to 2013, saying the “award-winning” fajitas were deserving of the title.
“I remember the children of the workers always out fishing or tossing a cast net out at the boat ramp everyday of the summer,” Delgado told the PRESS. “The whole water sports crew at Parrot Eyes put our money together for breakfast tacos multiple times a week.”
Sarah Randel, who lives in San Antonio, had been going to Ted’s Restaurant since she was ten years old, visiting South Padre Island yearly for the Fourth of July. Randel and her older sister would ride their bikes to Ted’s Restaurant every morning for breakfast while they visited. As Randel’s life progressed, she brought her husband, then her children, making Ted’s Restaurant a recurring part of her life.
“Sitting in that restaurant with my family, knowing how many fun memories I had with my sister there, was truly a wonderful feeling,” Randel told the PRESS. “With Ted’s closing, I feel like a piece of my family is missing.”
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