First Friday in Southtown had a new neighbor Friday night as the church on the corner of South Alamo and Wickes streets hosted a Do210 preview party for Maverick Music Festival and the building's new tenants, artisan sausage bar and restaurant Frank.
Austin-based Frank will bring its gourmet hot dogs to Maverick on Saturday and its new San Antonio location, once opened in "July-ish" will host concerts on a semi-regular basis, said co-owner Daniel Northcutt. He and co-owner Geoff Peveto had plans to open this spring, but the final details will likely take longer than that.
"We want it to be perfect," he said as the church's patio quickly filled up with people looking to enjoy free beers and music. The street corner has been void of commercial activity for more than three years, save for the sub-par Citgo gas station and convenience store across the street.
Northcutt and his team have barely begun to move in.
"We've done nothing but clean a tiny bit today – at three o' clock," Northcutt said of the rush to make the inside habitable in case of rain on Friday night. "We've knocked the dust off but we've got a good ways to go. Ultimately, for the most part we're only doing cosmetic (renovations). This building is iconic and it was built right in 1912.
"We're doing some really fun stuff with the church pew and reclaiming everything we can," he said. "But, yeah, we're about to get in here and get dirty."
He and his family moved to San Antonio from Austin a few months ago to oversee the Frank branch's opening and operations. They're currently renting in Terrill Hills but hope to eventually find a home to buy in Southtown.
"We knew the city was amazing – we've always love San Antonio – but we had no idea how fast we were going to fall in love with everything. ... Obviously Frank is a restaurant and bar ... but ultimately I think Frank is bigger than Geoff and myself and any of us as a brand because of all the things we're affiliated with – that's film, design, music and art and it's that creative tornado and the people that we hang out and activate with. The proof is in the pudding right here," he said, gesturing to the crowd.
Do210 managing partner and Maverick organizer Blayne Tucker said Frank will likely change the landscape of an already burgeoning Southtown.
"We're excited to be reactivating this whole space," Tucker said. "It's been dormant for a long time and First Friday seemed like the right combination of things coming together (with Frank) to finally complete this little jaunt between Blue Star (Arts Complex) and the rest of Southtown."
Maverick will feature two full days of music in La Villita Historic Arts Village next weekend, April 10-11. Tickets for Saturday have sold out, but there are still full weekend passes and Friday tickets available here.
The partnership between Maverick and Frank represents a larger correlation between San Antonio's music and culinary scenes. Every month it seems a San Antonio restaurant makes a Top 10 or "must eat" list. With more venues opening up and bringing more local, national, and international talent into the spotlight (Paper Tiger and soon-to-be Phantom Room for example), it's hard not to feel the momentum.
"The pace is a little bit slower (in San Antonio compared to Austin)," Northcutt said. "Slowing down and having a little bit less stress in my life? I'll take that adjustment any day of the week.
"We see a lot of necks swinging from Austin to San Antonio because ya'll are doing such great things."
The building's former tenants, Casbeers at the Church – later called San Antone Cafe and Concerts after a 2009 lawsuit, quickly became stable of Southtown just a few years ago. However, beloved owners Barbara Wolfe and husband Steve Silbas encountered expensive medical problems and too many slow week nights eventually led to its closure. Before San Antone’s 2008 move-in, the church was also home to another restaurant and theater. The building, now on the National Register of Historic Places, hasn’t been a church since 1968.