On Friday, two longtime patrons of Roosevelt Buffet, a classic downtown dive bar that closed its doors recently after 80 years, sauntered into Reyes Bar & Sons farther down on Flores Street and reunited with other Roosevelt regulars.
They both spoke fondly of Roosevelt, and about how they’re looking to make Reyes Bar & Sons their new haunt.
“It’s quiet, nobody bothers anyone,” said Edna Ibarra, wearing a Fiesta flower crown. “That’s how it was at Roosevelt.”
“It’ll take a little time, but eventually people will start knowing this place has opened up (again) and come back and hang out,” Juan Mendoza said.
On April 1, neon-orange construction paper signs posted on the bay windows of Reyes Bar, with black-felt market written on them, announced the bar was once again open.
In recent years, operating hours at the 73-year-old Reyes Bar & Sons, 113 N. Flores St., had been sporadic at best. For the past year, the bar, a half-block down from City Hall, had been closed.
A few weeks ago, Catarino M. Reyes Jr. reopened the bar a year after his mom, Consuelo, the bar’s longtime proprietor, died.
The bar first opened in 1946 after Catarino M. Reyes, the Reyes family patriarch, bought the building in 1945. In 1964, the older Catarino died, and that’s when his wife took over.
Catarino Jr. worked in the bar alongside his mother from a young age, running errands for her as a de-facto employee “since birth,” he said.
Reyes says the bar is located in a quiet part of downtown, with most of the bar’s regulars, through the years, coming from people waiting for their bus transfers. The bar attracts an older, local crowd, Reyes says, in an area that doesn’t receive the same foot traffic as other parts of downtown.
“We’re too far north of Market (Street), and we’re too far south of the River Walk,” he said. The San Pedro Creek Culture Park project may bring in more patrons, he said, once it’s finished.
“I’m going to give it a shot, (the bar’s) been open for 74 years,” said Reyes. “I don’t plan on going anywhere.”
Reyes is a throwback to the days when beers cost a few dollars. At Reyes, it’s mostly American beers. Dos Equis may be the only import.
The bar also boasts a Rowe AMI CD jukebox that emits everything from Linda Rondstadt to Emilio Navaira, from James Brown to Gloria Estefan.
Because Reyes owns the building, he doesn’t pay a mortgage in an area that’s about ready to explode.
A block north on Flores is the new Frost Tower, which could open in June, according to co-developer Weston Urban. Weston Urban also plans to build 265 residential units in the area, as well. The University of Texas at San Antonio is expected to build three new colleges nearby on Dolorosa Street. Complementing UTSA’s downtown expansion are plans to build faculty housing in the old Continental Hotel nearby on West Commerce Street.
Reyes has been getting offers from local real estate firms to buy the building since his mother died—letters in the mail or phone calls—but he says he won’t sell.
“I don’t see myself needing to sell,” Reyes said. “So, in essence, the property is not for sale, and for what (the firms) offer, it’s definitely not worth it.”
Reyes said the bar has been able to survive rising property taxes and a changing downtown because the family owns the building.
“That’s been our only saving grace is that we’re owners, not renters,” Reyes said.
He said the family pays for the bar’s operating expenses and the building’s property taxes through pre-arranged financial planning, but did not go into detail.
Reyes is open noon to 9 p.m. daily except Sundays.