What’s the skinny on Pig Liquors? For the last few weeks, a sign on the door of the longtime Southtown establishment stated “pardon our pig pen,” as the well-stocked liquor store began packing up its longtime spot at 712 S. St. Mary’s St.
For those who said, lard, it can’t be true, there’s news. Pig Liquors is relocating just steps away to a converted house, and will open in its new location at 519 S. Presa St. on March 21.
“It’s a new beginning,” said Anet Alaniz, who’s been bringing home the bacon ever since she opened the store five years ago. It was originally located in a converted home further south on South Presa Street near Taco Haven.
Business at Pig Liquors was good on South St. Mary’s with regulars coming from the surrounding residential neighborhoods and tourists from downtown hotels. Soon the space will become yet another new restaurant in Southtown.
Building owner James Lifshutz, who also owns nearby Blue Star Arts Complex and several other residential and commercial properties, said the new restaurant will be “an asset to the neighborhood.”
He declined to name the “proven restaurateur” that will be moving in, but told the Rivard Report that “the price point will be affordable and the menu wide-ranging.”
The internal walls that separate the building into four commercial spaces will be knocked down for a complete remodel, said Lifshutz, who purchased the building more than one year ago.
Southtown has become a flourishing arts district with upscale culinary offerings, shops, and residential options that could not have opened in the area 10 years ago. With increasing property values, many artists have found cheaper rent further south or along the Fredericksburg Road corridor.
After 14 years at its location in the building off South Presa Street, the literary nonprofit Gemini Ink moved out in 2014. The other offices within the building have been vacant for years as well.
But Pig Liquors has thrived. In addition to six packs and fine s’wines, the store offers an extensive selection of bourbons and whiskey, tequila and rum. Alaniz even stocks an eclectic assortment of antiques, jewelry, and artwork for sale.
“The liquor brings people in and forces them to look at other things,” Alaniz said.
That won’t change in the new space, which is owned by developer and restaurateur Chris Hill, who also owns El Mirador next to Pig Liquor’s current spot. As a “concierge for the neighborhood,” Alaniz’s plans will keep up her practice of stocking what her customers want most and filling special requests when she can.
Since tourists make up more than 70% of her business, she knows what they want as well. Summertime sightseers, especially families, are on a “beer budget,” while visitors during winter tend to be convention-goers who want the hard stuff. Spring breakers tend to go for the fruity beverages.
On a recent Saturday, three military service members visiting San Antonio for St. Patrick’s Day arrived at the store looking for whiskey and tourist tips. An Uber driver had delivered them. After checking IDs, Alaniz offered the young men Crown Royal and some advice, including where to find the nearest store for cigarettes. Pig Liquors does not sell them; Alaniz is a cancer survivor.
Market expertise aside, it was a boutique or gallery that Alaniz had her heart set on when she went into business. But she knew that liquor would be a draw, and thought, “I like to drink. I can figure this out.”
A San Antonio native and 1978 graduate of Providence High School, Alaniz has a bachelor of fine arts degree from the San Antonio Art Institute and has worked in the hospitality industry and for local nonprofits.
The name for her business was inspired by the former Pig Stand restaurant she once considered as a home for the store. After friends convinced her the name was fun, Alaniz not only embraced the name Pig Liquors, she also used it to fulfill a life goal of working as a mascot.
Yes, she’s the one hamming it up in the pink pig costume out on the sidewalk, waving to passersby or marching in the King William Fair parades. Oink = love is her motto.
Now Alaniz is sow looking forward to the new spot. She has invested $15,000 in renovating the 1,650 sq. ft. space to suit the needs of a liquor store. The open layout will allow for a pig-size inventory, and regulars can count on the store remaining pet friendly. She’s determined to keep oinking.
“Small business is being pushed out of Southtown,” Alaniz said. “If you don’t have deep pockets, then you can’t sustain a business here. There’s no funk left, but I’m hoping to help keep up the vibe.”