SAN ANTONIO - Long before the days of social distancing, Comfort Cafe in San Antonio was full of customers hungry for their next homestyle meal.

  • Recovery center relies on money raised at San Antonio's Comfort Cafe
  • Comfort Cafe closed due to social distancing order
  • Now offering curbside service 

Now, the North Side restaurant is empty due to the coronavirus pandemic.

"What we initially did is take a look at our community and take care of them first," said Teri Lopez.

Lopez is talking about her cafe staff who double as clients at SerenityStar Recovery in Smithville, Texas. The nonprofit program, which she runs with her partner Rosie Lopez, helps recovering addicts and alcoholics achieve sustainable recovery.

"We had 60 residents there so letting their families know they are safe, but we can't have visits and people coming in. We also stopped the intakes, which is heartbreaking," Lopez said.

The peer-to-peer program ranges from six to 12 months. Unlike other facilities, SerenityStar teaches healing through meditation and yoga, a sober support program, alternative healing practices, and community living. On weekends, clients learn life and job skills at the center's sister business, Comfort Cafe.

"It's a perfect way to start telling customers about the program and what we are all about," said Austin Payne, a client.

The cafe is donation-based, so the menu includes no prices. Every dollar made by staff goes directly back into funding the nonprofit's services. However, that funding is at a standstill since closing down the restaurant at the beginning of the pandemic.

"We are looking to get the ball rolling again at the restaurant," said Lopez.

Beginning this weekend, Comfort Cafe will reopen but only for curbside.

"We'll be offering a meal package until [local leaders] tell us we can open our doors again," said Lopez.