In downtown Brownwood’s popular Turtle Restaurant one recent morning, topics of conversation among Mary Stanley, Drex Holt, Leanna Bates, Judy Ashley and a visitor jumped from topic to topic.
Fishing. Food, including bacon honey chipotle, challah bread, an offering called mile-high biscuit and fried chicken thigh on a biscuit. Lyric Theatre plays. Working as as Air Force meteorologist at Nellis Air Force Base in Las Vegas, Nev.
And, of course, the topic that’s impacted virtually every individual and every business including the Turtle: COVID-19.
As with other restaurants, COVID-19 restrictions mean there is no inside dining at the Turtle, no diners seated at tables, only takeout. The Turtle, like other businesses, is adapting and doing what it can to keep survive and keeps its customers until the return of normalcy.
For the Turtle, that includes offering baked bread and lower-priced but tasty items on its takeout menu.
“Two weeks ago it felt like we were going to have a fantastic spring,” said Stanley, who with her husband, David, owns the Turtle. “Business was great. We paid off a lot of our debt, and we thought we were going to be raring to go. And here we are reinventing every wheel ever.”
Bates and Ashley are cooks, and Holt, a former Air Force meteorologist, is a bartender
“We’re just trying to react to what people need,” Stanley said. “We started baking bread when heard there was no bread at the stores and got such a good response, we’re going to keep it up.”
A post Thursday on the Turtle’s Facebook page states:
“Today's Bake: more Bagels, Baguettes, Boules, and Baguette rolls. In the Freezer: Challah, Rosemary Olive bread, Sour Dough.”
Beginning Friday, the Turtle will offer breakfast to go starting at 8 a.m. The Turtle’s new hours be be from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, the post states.
“We will be offering biscuits and eggs, biscuits and fried chicken, biscuits and sausage cream gravy, bagels and cream cheese, bagels and eggs, bagels and ham and cheese and the rest of our brunch menu,” the post states. “From 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. and 5 to 7:30 we are offering our crispy thin crust pizza. Pizzas now offered at lunch. To Go. Pizza and beer or wine, burgers too.”
Stanley said the Turtle is “reacting to our customers.”
Many people think of the Turtle as a “high dollar” restaurant, Stanley said. “There’s lots of to-go stuff on our menu that’s very inexpensive and just delicious.”
She said diners have asked for lower-priced menu items so “we’re trying to come up with things that we make from scratch that have a lot of flavor, but cost less to make so we can sell it for less,” Stanely said. “We’re also trying to keep our hands busy.
“We’ve always done pizzas. People don’t think of us for to-go pizzas.”
The Turtle can sell beer and wine and has tried making what Stanley described as “cocktail kits.”
The Turtle’s Facebook post Thursday concluded, “thank you Brownwood for all your kindness. We know everyone is suffering from the isolation orders. If there is anything you may want us to cook for you let us know and if we can do it, we will.”
Stanley said she doesn’t want to lose any of the staff during the COVID-19-imposed downturn in business. “These are my family,” Stanley said.