Why I Closed Lunch at Restaurant Gwendolyn

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In the middle of the “decade of downtown,” I had to close lunch service and the reasons pain me almost as much as the decision I had to make.

You see, Restaurant Gwendolyn is a labor of love. Anyone who knows our business model – everything actually made by human hands, without electric machines, and every single perishable ingredient in the house 100 percent local and sustainable, with a menu that changes every single day – knows that Gwendolyn is the real thing. It always tickles me to see the intelligent, accomplished businessmen whistle and roll their eyes in astonishment that we exist at all.

Chef Michael Sohocki poses for a photo after the lunch rush at Kimura, right around the corner from Gwendolyn. Photo by Iris Dimmick.

Chef Michael Sohocki poses for a photo after the lunch rush at Kimura. Sohocki opened the traditional noodle shop right around the corner from Gwendolyn. Photo by Iris Dimmick.

We are a bunch of idealistic crazies on a crusade against big white trucks and mechanized life and industrial  everything — shaking a rolling pin in the face of the conventional business model of restaurants.

I still have expenses and a business to run and for more than three years, against a whole heap of odds, I pay my bills.

I pay those bills with money from our dinner service – money that is not from downtown.

Gwendolyn’s fine dining dinner service (which the Express-News rated four stars for the quality of the dishes) was rated number one on Google in San Antonio. I was also nominated for the James Beard Foundation award last year, which is pretty solid evidence that we take our cooking seriously. I am proud to say that I have met guests who drive from Houston to eat at my restaurant, and then go home. But while my dinner menu brings people from far and wide – and for whom I am very grateful – I started the simple, cheap, lunch service to be a neighborhood institution.

Except that a neighborhood institution downtown is inherently a contradiction in terms.

Small, privately owned, “mom and pop” businesses exist for the nearby community whom they serve. I opened the lunch service of Gwendolyn for the hope of being that place that residents would roll out of bed and come get good sandwiches in their flip flops…only to find out much too late that, basically, people don’t really live downtown.

And why is that?

Our city has failed the downtown resident in several regards. People need a place to work, a place to live, somewhere to comfortably park their cars, somewhere to have fun, and somewhere to get hot dogs and toilet paper at 10 p.m.

Gwendolyn: 100 percent strictly local ingredients. File photo.

Gwendolyn: 100 percent strictly local ingredients. File photo.

Lots of my customers cite the parking as the reason they don’t venture into downtown very much—and they’re right. Parking is still a heavy obstacle that small businesses have to stubble against every day. I have enough tickets slapped on my truck for parking directly in front of my own restaurant to make a belt and hold my pants up. It has been seized by police, it has been ticketed on three consecutive days, it has been ticketed twice on the same day in two colors by two different police entities that apparently both enforce my block. If I totaled all the money together spent in towing charges from my staff’s collective vehicles, I could run the restaurant for a month. The message from the downtown police force is pretty clear: We want you gone.

Downtown (and the River Walk in particular) has been carefully built and wired to service the highly artificial exchange between tourists and business travelers and the multi-million-dollar corporate conglomerates that follow them. Out of the Hilton and into the Hard Rock Café. Come on, that’s not a town.

I know Mayor Julián Castro is trying to infuse downtown with a sense of excitement, to bring people in and keep them there, but the reality is that downtown is a pretty cold stretch of concrete.

A walk down North St. Mary’s Street after 5 p.m. is more than a little like a cemetery. I am surrounded—surrounded—by buildings that stand empty. Let me take you for a walk around my block, I will show you at least six concrete giants with boards across the windows.

Two very similar buildings reside on either side of the San Antonio River downtown. One is entirely vacant. The other, the Exchange Building, is an apartment complex and home to two restaurants. Photos by Iris Dimmick.

Two very similar buildings reside on either side of the San Antonio River downtown. On the left: entirely vacant. On the right: the Exchange Building, an apartment complex and home to two restaurants (Kimura and Restaurant Gwendolyn). Photos by Iris Dimmick.

Downtown is languishing in its deprivation of the warmth of humanity: real humans who live and breathe here. This place needs to get shook up good. Knock down those boards and give people rooms and workplaces, bodegas, child care centers, a hardware store that’s open on Saturday and carries electrical tape. Take the parking lots back from the private firms. Open this place up. Stop punishing humans for daring to come down here.

If you are looking to build a resurgence of residents downtown (such as Southtown and now the Pearl Brewery region are enjoying), you’ve got to imagine that the guy you are looking for is looking for a decent, affordable apartment that he can afford on his ten-dollar-an-hour job, a real grocery store he can hit with a five minute drive, a cozy, personal, neighborhood hangout with easy (and free) parking, a piece of grass to walk his dog on the weekend that’s not full of bums and a convenience store with a nice beer selection at 11:45 p.m. on a Saturday night.

San Francisco can do it. Queens can do it. Already, Southtown does a beautiful job of it. Why not us?

 *Featured/top photo: Restaurant Gwendolyn’s Facebook page.

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68 thoughts on “Why I Closed Lunch at Restaurant Gwendolyn

  1. This doesn’t bode well. There aren’t enough decent places to eat lunch downtown – now one of the best is gone.

  2. It’s too expensive to live downtown… I heard they were opening some apartments there so I checked them out… the prices are OUTRAGEOUS!!!!! $1500-$2000 a month for either an efficiency or a really small 1 bedroom!!! those are Los Angeles prices … come on San Antonio… WTH??? lower your damn prices if you want people to LIVE downtown…. smh

  3. Downtown Tuesday for example is not free on College street when the Majestic has a show. There is no way to know ahead of time when there is a special event or a number to call the garage. Parking on these days is $10 for an hour or more. Installing more bike racks would allow people to get out of heavy parking fees, and setting the streets for more bike traffic would bring in more a more urban vibe. I don’t know if the street car would allow this type of road usage but one can dream.

  4. (NOTE: not spell checked or read over much as I have a meeting to get to)

    Michael,

    This is a super tough question that I have wondered myself for years. I used to have a friend live off St. Mary’s downtown in the early 2000’s, we figured with the riverwalk expansion it would take off. It never did. 14 years later and we are still standing around empty buildings while other downtown’s are now revitalized.

    Not only do I not have a desire to live at the pearl or south town, I have actively decided to move out to the burbs and just pay cheap rent to live in a nice home. Before I got my home, I lived exactly what you described. My wife and I had never lived in any apartment over 750sqft before the house. Our favorite spot to live was downtown Austin on 3rd and bowie street in the Gables West back in 2003, it was 1095 a month for a 705sq ft apartment, Whole foods was going up, Huts Hamburgers, Frank and Angie’s, the convenient walk with not streets to the trails was awesome.

    When we moved to SA I had no idea where to live. I literally just moved in with my sister for a couple months. The closet thing we could find was the Artessa in the quarry. We moved there and loved it, 750sp ft for 1150, pricey for SA, but we were used to it being from Austin. That was until they wanted 1,600 a month. At that location we had much of what you were describing.

    We looked at the Pearly, but it just didn’t feel like, a bunch of conservative hispters trying to drive up prices in a space that used to be a brewery, cute. At least at the Artessa everyone knew we were living in lala land, at the Pearl people feel they “made the space”…

    South town is a whole other thing, gentrification at it’s finest (and it keeps going with the south river expansion). I had friends buying in King William’s area back in the early 2000’s building condos in warehouses. It was interesting, but again, it was a bunch of conservative hipsters for the most part.

    And well downtown? Like you said, after 5pm it is dead, the streets roll up. It has no real support to sustain a community feel, tourist, yes, community no.

    I know people have been saying it will change, but paying 1000’s to live downtown in the Ventanna or Cadillac lofts (both with lame parking, specially for visitors) or equivalent just doesn’t appeal to me, there is just not enough happening an I am not looking to be a trend setter.

    I just want to be in a creative community with a diverse crowd and open minded individuals. People who work companies they love, not because of the pay and security (cough USAA, HEB, Rackspace, etc), but for companies where you really are doing something “new”, not just as a company, but an individual who is part of the company.

    And I want those people to be creative outside of work, to want to go see things, make things and help communities in general.

    This harkens back to Michael Florida’s idea of the creative class. Something we have fought to create but have lacked in terms of true implementation.

    I look forward to the future of San Antonio and I do see the potential for change, but I see a tough road for small business innovators such as yourself. In Austin I had friends who owned coffee shops, hi-fi shops, record stores, comic book stores, bars, book stores, restaurants, bars. Friends who created beer co-ops (Black Star), friends who did startups and made millions, friends who worked for startup and now do startup consulting. Fabricators who built turbo kits for high-end automobiles, I actually know 5 of them and they are all successful in Austin.

    We lack an intellectual creative class, ones willing to leave the burbs and show up to events to participate in the public discourse of creative knowledge.

    I have been holding a talk series here for 4 years now called the Convergent Media Talk Series, we have had speakers from all over give talks about various topics spanning from chicana feminism, crypto currency to making video games. The speakers have all been successful innovators. For the talks I usually have between 20-50 people who show up, with 10-15 being my students and the mean being around 25 people all together.

    In Austin we will have the same speakers and have 100-200 people who up for the same speakers.

    Whether we want to realize it or not, we lack the momentum needed to create a critical mass of change.

    The good news is that there are people like you Michael, who are chipping away, my hope is more come, more wake up and realize the potential of this city and see that is a place of growth and potential, not just financially, but more importantly creatively.

    May you all have a wonderful day!

    (NOTE: not spell checked or read over much as I have a meeting to get to)

    • “creativity is their property, these books reassure them – and it’s also the benevolent doctrine under which they rightly rule the world.”

      From Ted Talks Are Lying to You by Thomas Frank

      I agree with much of what you have said. I live by San Pedro Park, pay 400/mo for a 600 sq ft slum and would love to live downtown. There just aren’t any viable options. I’m 24, in AmeriCorps, starting grad school in the fall and with my budget, my slum is as good (and as close to downtown) as it gets.

      The 80/20 Foundation’s report on construction lists several housing developments set to open up by fall 2014 but I fear that like all other housing near downtown, I’ll be priced out. I can’t justify doubling my rent for tall ceilings and concrete floors to be just as far from StMU and further from groceries, restaurants, bars, etc.

      I love downtown, and what it can be. I bike through it every day on my way to work. I imagine what I would want it to be as I go through, but as it stands now, downtown is dead and downtown sucks.

      When/where does your talk series take place?

    • “People who work companies they love, not because of the pay and security (cough USAA, HEB, Rackspace, etc)”

      I would have to say that USAA does not belong categorized with ‘companies people love to work for.’

  5. If you want San Antonians to live downtown lower the rent… it’s crazy the prices for an efficiency and a small (very small) 1 bedroom apartment… 1500-2000 a month?!?!!?!?! this is San Antonio not Los Angeles…. somebody fix that.

  6. wait a minute. this place is expensive. i will give them credit to giving tenants living above them who are blue collar workers a discount every now and then.

  7. He has points that I agree with, but he’s also stretching for validity based on his own business struggles. Read reviews on Gwendolyn…. Tons of complaints about the speed of service and tiny menu.

    Yes, downtown has issues, but it’s truly not as bad or as dramatic as it’s being presented here.

  8. This article is confusing to me. Chef Mike opened a “LUNCH” restaurant right next door to Gwendolyn called Kimora. A high end noodle shop that is AMAZING by the way. It’s hard to believe this is the reason you closed Gwendolyn while opening a new restuarant right next door. I would think the downtown issues you complain of didnt go away.

  9. Loved this. So perfectly stated. I moved here less than two years ago and have really tried soaking in all that San Antonio has to offer. It’s a really unique city, but it’s sad that most of the exciting parts exist outside of downtown. I’ve made friends who never leave their suburb because they grew up thinking that downtown was for tourists. That thought needs to be revamped. I live at Pearl now (hopefully not just among conservatives.. and not in the cookie cutter Can Plant apts) and I love it.

  10. Thank you Chef for stating the stark reality of this town. It is true my wife and I want to live close to the urban core but because of the housing stock and the school districts we decided to move out to the burbs. We debate whether or not to go and eat downtown just because of the parking and the lack of anything to do down there. Catering to certain gentrified areas only creates a segregated city which is exactly what San Antonio is becoming it is not unified and there is not a large enough creative intellectual class here in San Antonio to keep driving it forward.

  11. Well articulated article on what’s needed to truly capitalize on the momentum being built by the ongoing re-urbanization efforts in Downtown San Antonio. Hopefully, these efforts and our continued tourism dollars will find a way to peacefully co-exist downtown so that neither side sees their efforts stunted.

  12. Liz, I parked in the garage across the street, or at one of the meters nearby. Was no different than parking in any city.

    • Seriously? I take it you’ve not spent much time in any real cities. San Antonio is one of the easiest downtowns to navigate, because it’s very small and each part is so visually distinct. And the abundance of garages, meters, and lots (too many of these, really) make parking like breathing. There’s _plenty_ of problems in SA worth complaining about, but navigating and parking definitely aren’t among them.

  13. As a foodie who lives and works in the downtown area, every time I called to make a reservation I was told they couldn’t accommodate a vegetarian diet.

    There’s a reason Le Reve left and I’m impressed that you gave it a shot. A high end place across from an abandoned building and the Greyhound bus station? And away from tourist traffic? Let’s not place all the blame on downtown. There are plenty of places that are packed for lunch.

  14. Awesome article.. This makes me want to take out a loan and buy those abandoned buildings.. Which I have actually contacted and they want a ludicrous amount of money because the consider it “River Front” property which it is not.. All these people who own these abandoned properties downtown are GREEDY and want way too much money for them. They are in horrendous condition, some dont even have windows.. The city should step in an make them do something with their property.. Cmon San Antonio!! F*ck!

  15. I’ve been a downtown resident for almost 2 years, former frequent customer of gwendolyn lunch. I’ve heard a lot of promises about how downtown SA is coming. For 2 years no construction project has started inside the downtown loop besides the performing arts center. No big companies with a stake in san antonio are opening offices downtown. I don’t see it happening, at least not while I’m still young.

  16. @Matt Vasquez- I totally agree with your assesment of the ugly looking older buildings downtown that appear abandoned. I see several two/three stories that appear to be vacant-these could be turned into apts. Many buildings seems to be section 8. I don’t know who the planners are but it’s a no brainer that such appearences take away the possible unique/charm that the historic appearence can possess. I’m beginning to think it’s set up that way to slow progress. A possible business interest doesn’t want it to grow. IMHO.

  17. Its true… thing is I used to live downtown there just wasn’t anything to do and school system sucked. After awhile it just gets old……. What I dislike though is the faux pas hype…AYE… I have known many tourist who were like…all the hype but nada…AYE!…. I still think San Antonio is adorable…shit I live here…lol

  18. For what it’s worth, *parking* is not something San Francisco has figured out. (Unless you consider the taking out a mortgage to purchase a parking space a solution.)

    *Public transit* is what makes San Francisco (and the greater Bay Area) accessible. Likewise, NYC.

    But it’s been my observation, San Antonians, by and large, eschew public transit and insist on driving into downtown or don’t come at all, citing issues with parking. That’s a problem in need of a solution as well.

    Restaurant Gwendolyn and Kimura sit within spitting distance of two bus shelters serving several busy bus routes. Employees and customers alike have no excuse for not taking advantage. I personally have taken the bus into downtown to lunch at both establishments. How lovely to step off the bus only steps from my destination and not worry about the cost or hassle of parking!

    • Very true — it seems every generation since 1945 is stuck in a suburban mindset, suffering a collective amnesia about how cities work. I recently served on a committee in my neighborhood that spent a year talking in circles (and doing nothing concrete) about an imaginary “parking problem” on a street whose chief characteristic is its bleak emptiness and utter lack of activity. If it doesn’t look like the asphalt moat around a Walmart, the average San Antonian can’t even conceive of what to do with his car.

  19. Sad but true. And the places that cater to the overflow of tourists are overpriced and so vanilla, I wouldn’t want to go there. I lived in Boston for more than 20 years. I miss it more than I can say. We’ve got the potential — we just have to find a way to make it affordable and accessible. An 1100 square foot apartment that costs $2-2500 a month doesn’t fit into a lot of people’s budgets!

  20. I agree with pretty much everything in this article.. but I don’t understand why it was necessary to rag on homeless people at the end.

    • The candid truth, that nobody here likes to admit, is that it’s an issue of taste. People in San Antonio who appreciate real food from fresh ingredients, that doesn’t taste like it was plopped out of a Sysco can, are still very much in the minority. The average San Antonian, to put it kindly, is responsible for the abysmal “readers’ choices” in the annual EN restaurant poll, and would just as soon keep this place a culinary wasteland.

  21. Great article! When I moved to downtown Dallas in early 2003, many people said the same things. At that time there were 3 or 4 apartment buildings with about 400 people living downtown. I moved there to open a newly converted historic building into residential use. We struggled just like downtown San Antonio does now with this. The key to downtown Dallas was a small but vocal group of us working as the Downtown Dallas Partnership (now DowntownDallas Inc) and the city working to create a TIFF to help pay costs related to converting historic or unused buildings into residential use. Tax Abatements and TIFF funds were the only way anyone could get deals done because of abatement costs and such. Also, we had to rely on CDBG funds and offered a percentage of the units as part of the Dallas In-Town housing Program. San Antonio needs to do some of the same things. The difference we have here in San Antonio is that because of our tourist and convention market (which Dallas lacked) there are already a lot of resources. So San Antonio has a jump start. The Public-Private partnerships are needed more to make this goal of a rich, vibrant, living and breathing downtown a reality.

  22. The city needs more public transportation and more places to safely lock bicycles. People are moving downtown and downtown residents are making an effort to support the local businesses.
    I agree that there are things missing, but there has been improvement in the past two years. There will soon be a dog park at Travis Park. There are new apartments opening on Broadway, there is a new grocery and meat market at Alamo and Brooklyn, the Performing Arts Center will being many new people into the north side of downtown.
    I’ve suggested that the city plan to run a small circulator service in the downtown area during performances at the Tobin Center to facilitate Tobin patrons dining at downtown restaurants. They should be planning for something like that now since we’re so close to opening of the Tobin Center.

  23. This article is well written, and it’s clear that you feel very passionately about this issue, Chef. I applaud what you’re trying to do, and I think that Gwendolyn and Kimura are both terrific contributions to our local dining scene.

    However, as someone who works downtown, I can’t jump on board with the assertion that lunch service failed at Gwendolyn because of perceived issues with the downtown community (parking, small numbers of residents etc). You admit yourself that what you’re trying to do with your business model is expensive. I think it’s super cool that everything is fresh, local and handmade – but I can’t think of a similar restaurant that does an express lunch service for the working professional crowd (here or elsewhere). I think the concept just wasn’t an appropriate fit for lunch service, in that location, with that style of menu and preparation. I hope Kimura does well. It seems to be pretty hoppin’ for lunch.

    I’m not saying downtown is perfect. I agree with many of your complaints. I also think tremendous progress has been made, and that in the next year or so, even more progress will be made.

  24. That was one if the most well written and apt descriptions of why San Antonio’s downtown fails. Well done. We need new, young blood downtown and they need affordable ways to make downtown home. Bravo

  25. Guillermo’s is open for lunch and dinner Mon – Fri. We have parking, and we are competitively priced. We are trying to make difference, we are not failing and will not give up. We are Downtown San Antonio.

  26. For a restaurant, or any retail business, it all boils down to traffic count. No traffic count, no money. You don’t want to be the pioneer with the arrows in your back. Don’t bet on the come. Only buy into the traffic count which you can see.

  27. I can’t expertly comment on his business model but it sounds expensive and slow. Something not conducive to lunch.

    The chef says that minimal parking options is one of the reasons his lunch business was slow. On the surface that seems reasonable but there is plenty of parking in the suburbs and restaurants close there too.

    If the chef wanted locals to come to his restaurant for lunch he would actually encourage less parking downtown. He would do this for a variety of reasons.

    1) Residents who live downtown would become less inclined to drive on a regular basis, thus look for local lunch options rather than head to other parts of town.
    2) Land that would be used for parking could be used instead for commercial or residential growth. This provides the chef with more possible customers.
    3) If there is less of a perceived need for parking spots then residential developers wouldn’t need to build as many parking spots thus lowering the average cost of rent. If the cost of rent goes down more people (customers!) can move to downtown.
    4) More parking spaces means more traffic and more congestion, via induced demand. Thus people spend more time looking for a parking spot and less time eating lunch. If people spend more time eating and less time parking they could frequent the chef’s restaurant for lunch.
    5) If there is less parking downtown and the result is an uptick in commercial and residential development people will have less of a need to drive thus saving thousands of dollars every year on car expenses. Those are dollars that could go into a local business such as the one the chef runs.

    Now that the chef has his afternoons available I suggest he read Jeff Speck’s The Walkable City or Donald Shoup’s The High Cost of Free Parking.

  28. @Steve Trevino…..blue collar workers in the Exchange Bldg???? Are you kidding me?????
    We get all types of professionals in the bldg and military. It is not cheap to live downtown. As for the Gwendolyn issue, I cannot respond because I do wonder why Kimuri does well at lunch and G did not. Kimuri is on the corner which makes it more visible. I agree with the part about the bus station being a deterrent, the lack of parking being a deterrent, and the dilapidated bldgs being a deterrent. The city needs to focus on these issues before spending more on the areas of the Pearl and Blue Star. Change should come from the inside out……..

  29. Downtown San Antonio is so regimented that industrial strength kitchen appliances are the backbone of a solvent restaurant plan. It would be great if downtown didn’t thrive off a corporate firewall that keeps everybody partially hydrogenated on hotel sheets. Right now, a restaurant like the Gwendolyn, best situated in some deep, dark Parisian alleyway where it can thump along in silent fortitude throughout the years as the stapple of “diamond in the rough cuisine, ” is not fit for a place where the phrase “location, location, location” is best uttered in front of corporate insignia.

  30. I keep re-reading this article, and the author has very valid points – the city centre is lacking in many ways.

    But.

    Today there are very few places in Southtown a person earning $10/hr can live, and the ones that exist aren’t the fancy new buildings the current crop of young professionals expect. They’re older with loads of problems (I know, I lived in one, and couldn’t have afforded it on $10/hr even 10 years ago).

    And, that $10/hr worker you’re championing to live downtown isn’t likely to be one of your customers.

  31. Great article! There need to be more like it…
    Honest question — (inspired by your writing, “Take the parking lots back from the private firms”): Do COSA and political figures in SA really have the “public good” in mind, or are they ultimately more influenced by powerful, local private interests who purport to have the public’s interests in mind?… i.e., private big business being the tail wagging COSA, so to speak.

    • It sounds like you know the answer to your own question. It’s been said that in San Antonio “we don’t plan, we just make deals”.

  32. I couldn’t agree more with everything that Chef Michael has said.

    Over the years, San Antonio has become a collection of chain restaurants owned by Landry’s connected by a McDonald’s and Whataburger in the middle. There is absolutely no reason for anyone to visit downtown – there is a total absence of anything unique about the center of this city. I’ve watched everyone who tried something new close or struggle. Residential options here are non-existent and my weekly visits downtown for work cost me $15 for 4 hours parking – I pay less in Houston.

    City management would be a joke if it weren’t so tragically mismanaged. The city wastes hundreds of millions on a streetcar project nobody wants and a second convention center when it can’t fill the first one. Meanwhile sales tax rates rise, hotel taxes are among the highest in the nation, airport taxes are high and everyone wonders why people don’t visit downtown. This is unfortunately never going to change.

    Bravo for speaking out, Chef.

  33. The passions expressed by the readers to this commentary really show the collective desire for a better downtown. While there are certainly shortcomings, downtown IS improving day by day.

    As a professional who works in an office tower two blocks away from Gwendolyn, I suggest that the type of lunch offered there (table service, limited seating, 1-hour lunch, for $10+/customer) was not a likely choice for nearby professionals who are most concerned about time and cost. Those days that I ate lunch at Gwendolyn were exceptions to the rule.

    There are hundreds of attorneys working for the largest law firms in the City within a few hundred feet of the restaurant. Others are bankers or IT professionals. While they can afford it, few want to spend the time out of office required to eat a long lunch, as was my experience at Gwendolyn. Instead, you will see many of these professionals picking up Bill Millers or food from pretty awful sandwich shops in the area.

    Some of the deterrents cited (parking, bus stop, etc.) don’t apply to the office workers in the area. They simply chose to eat elsewhere. Plus, plenty of other restaurants (including others next to Gwendolyn) flourish downtown at lunch, so Gwendolyn’s problem cannot be with downtown. The problem must be that there is a disconnect with the food/service/time and the needs of the customer.

  34. I’m a former downtown business owner so I understand the challenges. I love your restaurant and completely disagree with all of the comments about lunch being expensive. You’ll pay more for lunch at The Sandbar, La Gloria and even My Fit Foods (which I spent $12.31) today. If you want fast-food that’s processed then go for it. That’s not what Gwendolyn or places like The Sandbar are about.

    The real issue with San Antonio is that the average HHI is $45,000 and doesn’t support foodies or an affluent demographic. It’s really sad — I grew up here and have lived in NYC, San Francisco and Chicago. I’m not encouraged being back here — it feels like the same place: Bill Miller’s and Mexican food.

  35. I’m sorry, but I agree with the people who are talking about the expenses. My husband and I bought an old house in Southtown 5 years ago. It’s more work than progress. We couldn’t afford to buy down here now. We are not poor, but the idea of paying rent of $1500 or $2000 a month to live downtown or in the Pearl or the Blue Star Complex is just ridiculous. (A fellow who worked on our old house said that Blue Star is basically held together by spit and gum.) Is this Manhattan? Does San Antonio pay Manhattan wages? I go to the Pearl, and I just feel like I’m out of my income level. (I’m sure I would feel the same way out at 1604, but I almost never go there.) What the hell do these people who have all this money do for a living? It seems to me that they are all trust fund kids or they work for Rackspace, which is basically a government-funded scam. Anyway, I don’t understand how the rents can be so high and the general population of San Antonio so poor (I work in a hospital, so I see the “bottom” of San Antonio everyday). Something is way out of whack. I suspect it is the “invisible hand” of the market. Not very invisible when stupid government policies favor the already rich.

  36. Why not us? Love that question, the answer is sad but true bc it’s San Antonio! The worst “city” for anything, have never had a decent meal there. Any kind of cultural experience starts and ends with Mexican. Wish you luck with your effort!

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