The newly renovated Ivar’s River Pub re-opened its doors to the community on Oct. 2.
Since the pub first opened in 1996, the restaurant, formerly known as The San Marcos River Pub and Grill, has been a staple of the city for years. The riverfront, bar-style hangout hosted locals daily before closing its doors in 2013.
The building was forced to close due to damage from flooding. Curtis Gunnarson, owner of the restaurant, chose to restore the restaurant to commemorate his late father.
Ivar Gunnarson, the original owner of the restaurant, was a World War II veteran from who moved to San Marcos after his service. Surviving the war led him to return with a fearless, business-minded attitude. This new worldview led to eventually ended with the opening of the San Marcos River Pub and Grill.
The Gunnarson family chose to rename the restaurant after Ivar Gunnarson, who passed away in 2005. The maple leaf logo pays homage to his Canadian roots, and black and white WWII photographs adorn the walls of the restaurant, memorializing his life and achievements.
“His war experience really shaped him as a business man and that’s how we pay tribute to him and other veterans as well,” Curtis Gunnarson said.
Gunnarson said that after returning from war, Ivar believed life was not as difficult as he once thought. He approached business without the fear of failure and the belief he could overcome any obstacle.
Jermaine Frazier-Collins, general manager, said the restaurant was very important to Ivar Gunnarson during his life and his family chose to keep it for that reason.
During his lifetime, Ivar Gunnarson worked alongside community members of San Marcos. Frazier-Collins said he was a prominent businessman.
The original pub garnered regular customers that were ready to help when the Gunnarson family chose to re-open the doors.
“When we chose to renovate it, we got the help from everyone that he had helped previously,” Eli Zablosky, marketing coordinator, said. “It’s more than just a building, it has history.”
The building is 60 years old and the Gunnarson family wanted to set it up for success. Previously a casual hangout, it is now an up-scale, dine-in restaurant serving an array of comfort food. It has large windows that overlook the San Marcos River, located beside the Rio Vista Dam.
“The river is such a big part of San Marcos,” Michael Bazan, the head chef, said. “You can be having a bad day and come out here and just get lost. It’s nice out here.”
Owned and operated by the Gunnarson’s, Bazan said the restaurant has developed a family-like atmosphere. Although only having been open for seven weeks, Ivar’s River Pub has already developed new and long-time regular customers.