END OF AN ERA
Beloved San Antonio burger joint suddenly shutters after 50 years
After feeding generations of Southsiders, TJ’s Hamburgers has fired down the grills. The 50-year-old restaurant announced its closure with a handwritten note on the door — first reported by Folklores Coffee House — stating it was “no longer able to stay open.”
Thomas and Bea Carruthers opened TJ’s in 1973, serving an unfussy menu in a stripped-down interior. Thomas passed away in 2017, but the restaurant remained family-owned and guided by his vision. The note paid homage to his legacy with a simple sign-off, “In Carruthers honor.”
The shutter has shocked many in the community. TJ’s was active on social media as late as September and recently had celebrated its anniversary. In July, the owners invested in a new air conditioning system to weather San Antonio’s scorching summer heat.
Still, the restaurant — time locked in the ‘70s with a red, hipped roof, and spare branding — faced stiff competition from sleeker chains like Burger Boy and independent joints like Griff’s. Undoubtedly, it braved many hurdles endemic to the local restaurant business, like staff shortages, rising food costs, and increasing property taxes.
But few of its competitors were so beloved. Over its half-decade in business, TJ’s became a staple of Southside life. As the news has spread across social media, many locals have offered tributes.
“Um is this true? Anyone wah… help,” wrote one Facebook user. “Ugh!!!,” expressed an Instagram commentor, “ I grew up on TJ’s. We lived right around the corner (my family still does). So sad.”
Several locals saw the closure as a call to arms.
Local shop PB&J With Tay summed it up succinctly. “Every order helps small businesses and we must spend our dollars at mom and pop shops or we will see this way more often!”