A culinary attraction is spurring growth in San Antonio’s Southtown
by Catherine Gavin
A former gas station turned gastropub, The Monterey is helping to create a culinary outpost in San Antonio’s Southtown district. Designed by Poteet Architects and Wiese Hefty Design Build, the scheme for this highly praised restaurant transformed the dilapidated storefront of a former Sunglo Service Station with a clean mid-century aesthetic, a large inviting patio, and an innovative menu.
As originally built, the structure was sited to the rear of the lot and surrounded by ample open space. The architects rehabilitated the existing building and extended a broad eave, creating a welcoming entry flanked by an expansive patio and an intimate dining room. Horizontal cedar planks clad the eave, nicely capping the glazed and stone façade below. The seamless transition from exterior to interior leads to a bar and dining area that wrap the kitchen and service stations. The finishes capture the motor-age aesthetic with a combination of rich fabrics, such as the red oilcloth ceiling, vintage light fixtures, and mid-century-inspired furniture.
Kristen Hefty says the designers sought to create a comfortable atmosphere that reflects the modern and experimental approach to food essential to The Monterey’s menu. The team at Wiese Hefty built upon the design concept established by Poteet Architects and collaborated with colorist Greg Mannino for the final red and teal touches.
Jim Poteet, who has lived and worked in the neighborhood for years, notes that The Monterey continued the revitalization of Southtown’s commercial corridors and has attracted many people to the neighborhood. “The redevelopment has been a huge success,” he says. “The area’s storefronts that were once vacant, underused, and derelict, have been rehabilitated and are prized locations for creative businesses.” Since the completion of The Monterey in 2010, other notable restaurants including Bliss and Feast have opened nearby.
Hefty emphasizes the role The Monterey has played in this growth. “Our client sought to establish something new and different that would attract people, and I think we achieved our client’s goal,” she says. “It’s rewarding for me to go to the restaurant and experience the sense of community.”
Catherine Gavin is the newly appointed editor of Texas Architect, effective with the January/February issue