Rosella Coffee, a locally owned cafe on 203 E. Jones Ave., released a design rendering of the bar and coffee area for its second store Monday, which will be located at the historic Rand Building downtown. The shop, expected to open this summer on the corner of East Houston and Soledad streets, will serve coffee, food, and some alcohol.
“We’re just waiting on a couple of more things for permitting, but we’re ready to go,” Charles Gonzalez, owner of Rosella, told the Rivard Report Tuesday. “Once that goes through, we’re ready to start rocking and rolling and ready the place to begin building.”
Rosella is known for more than just coffee. The popular spot near the Museum Reach just north of downtown, also serves food, beer, and wine and has become a gathering place for locals. The venue hosts special events such as art shows, foodie meet-ups, and live music events throughout the week and has a brunch menu that includes mimosas, waffles, and more.
Students in need of a cup of coffee gather for study sessions, people come in the morning for business meetings, dog owners bring their pets to sit in the outside courtyard, and families bring their kids to draw on the shop’s chalkboard walls while they enjoy a cup of joe.
The second Rosella aims to continue that sense of community in its new downtown location.
“We’re really excited, it’s always been a dream,” Gonzalez told the Rivard Report in July, before finalizing the lease agreement. “Optimistically, you never open a space hoping you have just one. We’ve been very blessed and we’re ready to start working on expansion.”
Patrick Wynn with Total Art Design and Architecture, is the lead architect for the new Rosella location. Gonzalez said the décor and style is going to be slightly different than Rosella’s first location, which plays off the historic plumbing supply warehouse’s brick, steel, and long leaf pine for a more industrial ambiance. Rosella shares the building with architecture firm Overland Partners.
The Rand Building is home to Geekdom, Rackspace Open Cloud Academy, other startups and tech companies (including the Rivard Report), and soon Google Fiber. The growth and momentum in the area, the so-called Tech District, motivated Gonzalez and his business partners to expand Rosella’s operations downtown.
“It’s a pretty exciting place to be,” Gonzalez said. “Then there’s the new Frost Bank Tower coming up a block away and Embassy Suites near by – that’s kind of the attraction, everything that’s happening around it.”
Gonzalez reached out to property owner and developer Weston Urban last year to look around the building and “hash out the details,” he said. The street-level activation needed for the building doesn’t just include Rosella. Pinch, a seafood and crawfish restaurant, is expected to open this spring on another corner of the building off of North Main Avenue. Pinch will replace Taiwan Chinese Restaurant, which closed Dec. 31.
“Rosella is a perfect fit,” Weston Urban Co-Founder Randy Smith told the Rivard Report in July, “to a T, exactly what we’d hoped for.”
The downtown commercial market probably isn’t ready for “soft goods” retail like clothing or other shops, Smith added, so future tenants will likely be service and food and beverage oriented.
“The Rand is over 100 years old, it’s a part of San Antonio … taking old buildings [and] completely redesigning them to make a more vibrant downtown is really exciting,” Gonzalez added.
Gonzalez said that the inspiration for the design of the new Rosella goes hand in hand with the time period that the Rand building originally opened.
“We are trying to go with the time period of when the building was open so early 1900, art deco, or pre art deco inspiration,” Gonzalez said, reflecting on the rendering for the new bar area. “That bar … we want it to be a focal point and pop. I think with the lighting they did a good job and the holes all around the part around the ceiling. It will be an aesthetically pleasing piece of the building but also functional as well.”
The new location is roughly around 2,500 sq. ft., Gonzalez added, 1,000 sq. ft bigger than the original Rosella. “It’s like if you look at our shop now and added a second courtyard.”
Saved from demolition in the 1980s by the San Antonio Conservation Society, the 1913 building was originally a Wolff and Marx department store. Before it was purchased by local developer Weston Urban several years ago, Frost Bank employees populated all eight floors.
The success of Rosella on Jones Ave. prompted Gonzalez and his staff to add 30 more seats since they first opened. During peak hours, it’s sometimes hard to find a table.
Because of the demand of meeting space for students, professionals, and community groups at Rosella’s current location, he’s thinking of adding some larger tables and communal table seating to the new Rand location.
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“Another thing we’ll do is add a small bar, something that does your standard cocktails, and also coming up with brunch cocktails. It will be a bigger space. We are working on having a legitimate brunch there,” Gonzalez said. He’s working on figuring out an inexpensive or free parking system for weekend brunch customers.
The new cafe will likely see its fair share of students seeking a cup of coffee or place to study. The new CAST Tech High School opening on the Fox Tech High School campus aims to connect its students to internships at downtown tech companies, which will be walk or a bike ride away from the new school.
“We want to be open seven days a week,” Gonzalez said. “There’s a lot of places downtown that close on the weekends. And especially serving coffee, that’s something that we want to be able to help with.”
For the menu, Gonzalez said, most existing items will transfer over to the new shop but space for a full kitchen at the Rand will allow for expansion.
“At this other location, we’ve talked about trying to do a burger or something else that’s heartier for lunch,” he said.
Initially, Gonzalez hoped to open the new downtown location February 2017.
“Yes, it’s taken longer than I’d hoped,” he said, “but it’s moving forward. I’m excited to see this go from a concept to reality soon.”