After the owner of Captain Nemo's in Irving announced his decision to turn off the grill at the end of the month, business has boomed, but it's not enough to make up for the last nine months.
Located at 1426 N. Irving Heights Drive in Irving, the restaurant known for its ribeye steak subs with cheese and onions, has been in business for 47 years.
"This is home sweet home, this has been a good 'ol girl," said Bill Miller, the owner.
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He started the Irving location when he was 21 after he moved to Texas, but his father started the business in 1968 in Detroit.
"You order the sandwich, we make it right then, ribeye steak, melted provolone cheese, grilled onions if you like them jalapeno peppers, whatever you like," said Miller. "This isn't quite like a Philly cheese but it's a Texas cheese. That's what it is, it's a Texas steak sub."
Like many businesses, before the pandemic, Miller, also known as "Captain" and his "Crew" were doing just fine.
"I thought that we had enough savings, that we were going to just squeeze our way through and eventually come out the other side, we'd be alright. But because COVID is dragging on and dragging on, and there's resurgence, and such, it has used up our resources," explained Miller.
He said when the pandemic hit, some of his staff left. He was able to find new people but said even now they're operating with six staff members when typically they would have 10.
Even with the shortage, it's still hard to keep up with the bills because they're barely breaking even.
"It's hard for us to not pay our employees more, we want to pay them more than we are, we just can't because if you don't have enough business, you know, you can't pay the employees," said Miller. "We've had to borrow money to do that. I don't like doing that, but we have our employees are awesome. They work so hard for us."
Miller posted on Facebook that the restaurant would shut its doors for good on Dec. 31.
He's received hundreds of well-wishes and many customers who are saddened to hear the news.
"We have the best customers around the world. You can see this outpouring these all these people that are here. That's because they care about us and I really appreciate that," said Miller.
The restaurant has been busy non stop since his post.
"This is the first I found out about it, when I walked in today, it’s a shame I feel bad," said Frank, a customer who came in on Tuesday afternoon.
The Pennsylvania native said Captain Nemo's is the only place where he can find a good sub.
“I recently moved to the area and it’s the best cheesesteak I’ve had in the area," said Frank.
"That kind of bums you out, but we know with the pandemic we’re having a lot of small businesses are having a really hard time," said Charvis Vaughan, a first-time customer who relied on online reviews to eat at Captain Nemo's.
"It’s a good place to have a steak sub, probably one of the best around," said David Mullen who drove in from Arlington.
Miller said on Dec. 31 he'll go from "Captain Bill" to just Bill and said he plans to spend the next several months with his wife and volunteering in the community.
He said he has explored the idea of having an investor step in, but said he hasn't found the right match to keep his interest top of mind.
"I thought that I would find someone with a good interest in the business that wanted to keep the food quality that we have and to treat people like we treat people and I looked for that for the last couple of years and I haven't found that," said Miller.
*Map locations are approximate, central locations for the city and are not meant to indicate where actual infected people live.
**County totals below include all 32 North Texas counties, not just Collin, Dallas, Denton and Tarrant.