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Table Talk: South Texas Hole in the Wall in Kleberg County

Financial fears during the pandemic
Posted at 11:07 PM, Dec 28, 2020

KINGSVILLE, Texas — In the city of Kingsville, with a population of about 25,000, people are doing whatever they can to make ends meet.

It’s also the home of Texas A&M-Kingsville with the javelina as its mascot. The javelina is known as being fierce and tenacious and those are qualities you’ll find not just on campus but in many of the people who live there.

Just a mile away from the school, you’ll find the South Texas Hole in the Wall restaurant which is a very popular spot.

These days, though, it’s also a place where financial fears during the pandemic are running rampant.

"It's rough,” said Aileen Escamilla, who’s worked in the city’s collection department for the last 8 years. "It's ugly to see.”

She tells us she doesn’t see it getting better anytime soon.

"Having to pick and choose what utility to pay,” she says about some of the city’s utility customers. “They literally come in crying. They will come in tears with their families, or on the phone. It's sad to see.”

City leaders have put people on payment plans - vowing not to cut off people's utilities.

“And we do what we can because you know this was out of everybody's hands and it wasn't planned,” Escamilla added.

Cindy Mora and her husband, Michael, grew up here and just moved back.

"I mean, we see it every day of just people who are trying to survive through this pandemic,” Mora told us.

Finances aren't too bad for them though it’s one of their sons they're concerned about.

When we asked her about one of her two sons who’s been furloughed and had to go on unemployment, she told us that “it broke my heart.” She later told him, "our door is always open for him.”

The well-known owner of the restaurant told us financial issues keep her up at night.

"I get emotional,” Rachel Liguez told us as she began to cry. Moments later when we asked her if she was barely getting by, she quickly answered, “We are just, yes.”

And it’s not just the rent at the restaurant she’s worried about.

"I've got two kids in college and paying tuition totally out of pocket has been hard,” Liguez told us.

For Liguez, business had been booming here at her old location every night. If you went, you might not find a table. So she decided to get up and move to a bigger place and that’s the location she's in now. That was back in early March. She packed the people in every night for three weeks and then life changed forever with the pandemic.

"I know that I can't walk away at this point, it's just we just had to keep the faith that we can, we can make it happen,” Liguez told us through tears.

It's the uncertainty that makes things so much worse while struggling on a daily basis.

As for Escamilla and helping residents like Rochelle get by, she says people will recover financially.

“Not yet,” she told us. “Hopefully soon.”

Liguez wonders whether she’ll be able to keep the doors of her new restaurant open. She wonders if her customers, the people of Kingsville, will be ok. Of course, that remains to be seen.

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