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Longtime San Antonio restaurateur suddenly shutters Northeast Side eatery

Longtime local restaurateur suddenly shutters Northeast Side eatery

Ruben's Backyard
Ruben's Backyard was popular for its Tex-Mex fare and burgers. Ruben's Backyard/Facebook

Less than a year after opening, a popular Northeast Side spot surprised San Antonio on January 8 and announced it is now closed. After 42 years in the hospitality business, Ruben’s Backyard namesake Ruben Sepulveda Jr. has decided to retire.

A restaurant rep tells CultureMap that Sepulveda wanted to travel and spend more time with his family. 

The longtime restaurateur opened Ruben’s in February 2019 after the previous tenant, MoMak’s Backyard Malts & Burgers, folded in late 2018. Sepulveda didn’t stray too far from the former occupant’s formula, offering an assortment of burgers, sandwiches, salads, and deep-fried appetizers.

Sepulveda, however, did make a few changes. The kid’s playground was removed to make room for even more seating in the already expansive space, a full bar was built, and Tex-Mex plates were added to the menu.

The plates were a carryover from his family’s business, Southside institution Don Pedro Mexican Restaurant. Sepulveda and brothers Marco and Oscar took over operations of the restaurant from parents Ruben Sr. and Leticia in 1997. The restaurant rep confirmed Sepulveda stepped down from that role several years ago, but was unsure of the exact date.

A unnamed new concept will eventually settle into the space at 13838 Jones Maltzberger Rd., though it's unclear whether the incoming occupants will also offer Tex-Mex. The team is keeping the details of the new restaurant mum for now.