Silver Ventures pulled back the curtain Thursday to reveal a bit more of the Hotel Emma as it nears completion with a new opening date sometime in October. The luxury hotel and culinary destination is in the 121-year-old former brewhouse, the most distinctive of the historic structures on the Pearl campus.
The Pearl has partnered with the noted New York design firm of Roman and Williams, whose principals began as film set designers in Hollywood before expanding into building and interior design. Transforming historic properties into luxury boutique hotels and destination restaurants is a specialty. Their projects include the Highline Hotel in Chelsea, the former General Theological Seminary; Kingside, the restaurant and bar in the 57th Street Viceroy Hotel in New York, and the Facebook ‘Mess Hall’ in Menlo Park, CA.
“Our design philosophy is rooted in the unused, and at Hotel Emma, we were inspired to take overlooked items and elements and bring them to the forefront of our design,” the firm’s two founders, Robin Standefer and Stephen Alesch, said in a statement. “We like to create a narrative based on the emotions and experience of a space, and Hotel Emma’s history has only added to the narrative that we’ve created.”
News of the Roman and Williams work at the Emma comes two months after Silver Ventures dissolved its partnership with Kimpton Properties in San Francisco, and its decision to undertake direct management of the Hotel Emma, ensuring its place as the heart of the Pearl connected directly to all the other culinary venues and retail shops rather than a separate entity within the campus.
The Hotel Emma is named after Emma Koehler, who led the brewery through Prohibition after the untimely death of her husband and brewery founder Otto Koehler. The Emma, like some of the Pearl’s other redeveloped structures, incorporates an extraordinary range of brewery artifacts into the building design. Historic elements include replication of the original cement tile brewery floor, and the reuse of period industrial equipment as light fixtures, banquettes, and chandeliers. Original 25-foot vaulted concrete ceilings, cast-iron spiral staircases, turn-of-the-century exposed brick walls, ceiling beams and pressed tin ceilings help define the newly constructed hotel.
With 146 rooms and top-floor suites that feature outdoor terraces and custom furnishings, the Emma aims to be the city’s signature luxury hotel, a place visitors come simply for the hotel and culinary experience.
The Hotel Emma will include three culinary venues:
Supper, led by Chef John Brand, a Midwestern native and adopted South Texan, who favors seasonal greenmarket cuisine artfully served in an informal farm to bistro table setting.
Sternewirth, the hotel bar and clubroom, will feature banquettes fashioned from 20′ high cast-iron tanks and offer classic cocktails, wine list, craft beers, and a small gourmet menu.
Larder will be a gourmet market, offering locally sourced goods, groceries, house-butchered meats, freshly prepared foods, wine, beer, and locally roasted Merit Coffee. “It’s a South Texas food store with a soupçon of Euro-sophistication, where hotel guests and locals alike can stock up on culinary luxuries or simply enjoy a glass of wine,” according to the Pearl press release.
The Emma staff will include a culinary concierge, the first in the city. Hugh Daschbach, a New Orleans area native who came to San Antonio to attend Trinity University, will help Emma guests “live like locals” and experience the city’s fast-growing and evolving culinary scene.
“The culinary concierge will grant Emma’s guests access to our unique South Texas culture—from organizing a guest chef dinner in a private suite to helping guests enjoy programming from the Culinary Institute of America campus next door, the concierge will make guests feel as if they are staying at the well-appointed home of very interesting friends,” as the release put it.
Independently owned Southerleigh Fine Food & Brewery, which opened in April, also is housed in the former brewery.
This story was originally published on Thursday, May 14, 2015.
*Featured/top image: John Martinez paints one of Hotel Emma’s signs in December 2014. Photo by Scott Martin.