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Boerne restaurant becomes known for weekly national anthem performance

A Boerne restaurant is known for its fast-selling barbecue – and the way it honors those who serve every week.

BOERNE, Texas — Boerne Tex-Mex barbecue restaurant Compadres Hill Country Cocina draws a daily crowd, often selling out of meals each day after people line up early to get a taste.

"What we're famous for is our smoked beef fajitas. People think they're getting brisket, but it's fajitas," owner and chef Mark Sierra said. "We open at 11, but people normally start parking here by 10:30; it actually gets pretty crazy. People come here, they have a good time, just the vibe – they have a good time when they're here." 

But while the cooking and atmosphere draws a lot of people in – there's also a meaningful moment each week that keeps some of them coming back. Each Friday at noon, Sierra calls the restaurant to attention and retired Army band director Jim Manzo plays the national anthem. For a minute and six seconds, there's no talking, no cooking – just the national anthem.

"It just reminds me that we are so blessed to live in this country," said Tonya Thompson, a regular at the restaurant. "I love Compadres because they hire our veterans and that's something that's very rare. So I like to give my business to a small business like that."

Sierra himself is a veteran, and he's made it a mission to hold events supporting the veteran community and to honor the military with mementos on his restaurant's walls – but he says this is always an emotional moment.

"I start thinking about the guys I've served with, those that are still here, those that we lost," Sierra said. "It's a time for us just to think about them and give them thanks."

Manzo says it's been an honor to play the anthem each week, especially on his own.

"I stand at attention and feel grateful for being American and think back on my military career sometimes, and just focus," Manzo said. "Its' a minute and 6 seconds."

Sierra says he hopes it brings the community together in support.

"Our place is like veterans day, memorial day, every day, without the sad part," Sierra said. "It's just a place for the community to come in, and the support we get is amazing."