ORANGE GROVE, Texas — Christina Saenz opened Christina’s Place with her husband in October 2019. Just months into the restaurant's existence, the COVID-19 pandemic shut down businesses across the world.
“Five months into it we had to close our doors due to the pandemic, which was really scary, because we weren’t even a year old yet,” Saenz said. “We had put almost everything we had into opening our business.”
During that time, the business relied on drive-thru, to-go, and delivery orders to keep the lights on.
“When we had to shut our dining room doors, we weren’t really sure what we were going to do at that point in time to keep our staff," she said. "And business-wise, we didn’t know how we were going to bring customers in to keep us here. Anything we could do to keep our business surviving at that point is what we did.”
Saenz credits the community support for keeping the business open. She said good food and good service is what keeps people coming back.
“We take a lot of pride in what we serve, and we always try to serve you with a smile, and make you feel as welcome as possible,” she said.
As restrictions lifted, Christina’s Place started offering live music in its outdoor area, with no cover for patrons, and local bands providing the music.
“We’re looking forward to trying something different, and it’s given people something to look forward to, bring back entertainment and smiles to people’s faces and keep things happy and lively,” she said.
Live music is provided every few weeks, and Friday's concert will feature C.J. Simmons of local band Hill Country Revival. Music will start at 9 p.m.
Saenz said she uses social media to keep in touch with customers, constantly updating the restaurant’s Facebook page with information on concerts and food specials.
Christina’s Place also hosts a Halloween block party for the community. The first one was in 2020, and Saenz said planning has already started for one in 2021.
Saenz and her husband are very thankful to the people of Orange Grove for their help making it through the pandemic.
“Thank you very much for keeping us in business, and coming and enjoying our restaurant,” she said. “We definitely went through an adventure with all that, as a lot of people have, but we’ve done it together, and managed to stay afloat.”
Christina’s Place is located at 114 S. Leona St. in Orange Grove, and is open Tuesday through Saturday.