Jody and Steve Newman, owners of The Friendly Spot, are returning a familiar hangout to the Southtown area.
The couple has transformed B&D Ice House into Bruno’s Dive Bar, in honor of Bruno and Diane Dzanski, the original owners of B&D.
“People can expect the dive bar to be a low-key, fun, relaxed place to get a drink at and it’s really a return of what this building was for over 50 years,” Jody Newman said in an interview.
Bruno’s Dive Bar, 1004 S. Alamo St., is in a soft opening phase, having first opened on First Friday.
Bruno’s will serve beer, well drinks, and basic bar snacks and food. The former kitchen has been converted into a game room with beer pong, Golden Tee and NBA Hoops arcade games. B&D’s vintage neon beer signs have been restored for the new Bruno’s. A photo wall display that Bruno and the Dzanski family chose shows the early years of the icehouse.
Customers can expect to pay $4-$7 for drinks, along with daily specials and bar snacks for under $10.
“Longtime Southtown residents can recall Bruno’s upbeat personality that made the icehouse special,” Newman said. “Bruno would have customers come on a consistent basis because of the way he was able to connect with his community and his energy he brought to the icehouse that made it fun, relaxed and low-key.”
The Newmans have hired Mel Ramos, long-time friend and The Friendly Spot’s first employee, whom Jody Newman describes as a “modern-day Bruno.” She hopes to bring that energy back to the building and have customers coming in just to see Ramos as they did with Bruno.
The original B&D Ice House opened in 1961 and occupied the corner of South Alamo and Cedar streets and originally served as the spot people in neighboring homes would go to pick up ice. It would then transform into a neighborhood corner store and eventually the iconic icehouse inside the arts district in Southtown area.
Bruno, who’s 90, would retire eventually in 2014 and lease the space to the Newmans, who continued to operate the establishment as a barbecue joint until they closed at the start of the pandemic. Diane Dzanski passed several years ago.
The Newmans collaborated with Dzanski and his family to determine the future of the business and made the decision to go back to the building’s 1960s roots and reopen as a dive bar in honor of Bruno.
Bruno’s Dive Bar hours of operation will be 4 p.m. to 2 a.m. Thursday-Sunday.
Rocky Garza Jr. is a freelance journalist in San Antonio and co-editor of The Ranger at San Antonio College. Follow him at @r0ckssss_ on Twitter