By Richard Webner | @RWebner | Heron contributor
Hops & Hounds, a restaurant and dog park on the Northeast Side, plans to open a second location on the River Walk in north downtown next to Elsewhere Garden Bar & Kitchen.
The new location, 1123 Avenue B, will feature shipping containers providing space for a kitchen, bar and coffee shop, as well as an outdoor seating area and a dog park, according to plans submitted to the city’s Office of Historic Preservation (OHP).
Lee Beekly, the co-owner, said it will offer a menu similar to that of the existing location, with dishes such as hamburgers, chicken sandwiches and nachos, as well as a selection of around 20 to 25 draft beers, craft cocktails and frozen margaritas. The coffee shop, facing Avenue B, will likely open around 7 a.m. and will include espresso drinks on its menu, he said.
The restaurant will sit on a 1.5-acre vacant lot owned by local developer Hixon Properties, one of the biggest landowners in north downtown.
“We are attracted to urban settings,” Beekly said, pointing to the abundance of dog owners in nearby apartment buildings such as River House and 1221 Broadway. “When Hixon came to talk to us, we were excited because it’s right in the middle of what’s happening in downtown San Antonio, with the urban growth. It’s really a no-brainer for us.”
Beekly said he expects the restaurant to open around December.
Hixon will lease the site to the restaurant, the firm’s Chief Investment Officer Clint Wynn said. The property will likely be developed with a denser use in the future, he said.
“This site is an urban site, and as the neighborhood continues to develop all options are on the table,” Wynn said. “But for the time being we felt like Hops & Hounds is a good addition to the neighborhood. If you see the amount of people walking dogs, and how crowded the dog park gets, we feel this is a good use now.”
The restaurant portion of the business will likely operate from 11 a.m. to around 10 or 11 p.m., Beekly said.
He and his partner, Jamie Hardaway, are considering selling memberships to the dog park, allowing the members to get in with the swipe of a card, as one would do at a gym, he said.
The current location of Hops & Hounds features an “agility course” for dogs with ramps, a pyramid, tunnels and stairs. The new location will probably feature something similar, he said.
“It’s sensory overload (for a dog). Kind of like Spurs at halftime—there’s stuff going on all over the place,” he said. “I think we’ll probably tweak it and improve it.”
The partners are “on the fence” over the question of whether to have live music, he said. If they do, it would likely be acoustic.
“With respect to downtown and the residential, we want to quietly, softly open and be there as a complement, not something that will be a nuisance by any means,” he said.
For years, Hixon has been working in partnership with the Cavender family to develop a mini-neighborhood along Broadway in north downtown, where the family once operated auto dealerships. In 2020, their partnership finished construction of The Soto, a six-story, 140,000 square-foot class A office building.
The Cavender family doesn’t own an interest in the property where Hops & Hounds is locating, Wynn said.
Hixon and Cavender plan to open a market inside two former Cadillac dealership buildings off Broadway, which will feature a pick up-and-go coffee spot from Mila Coffee, a brewery, and other tenants.
[ Related: Mila Coffee, brewery joining new market inside Cavender Cadillac buildings | April 5, 2022 ]
The shipping containers in the new Hops & Hounds location will be arranged in a U-shape in order to “frame the view of the river as you walk into the restaurant” through an “inviting gateway entry” off of Avenue B, according to the plans submitted to OHP, drafted by local architecture firm Beaty Palmer Architects.
The site will include outdoor seating under a big oak tree and across a lawn that will feature a mixture of natural grass, stone, artificial turf and mulch, the plans show. A concrete ramp will lead down to the River Walk.
“The dining space for the project is all outdoors and informal,” the plans say. “The project is designed to be inviting and compatible with the character and context of surrounding apartments and commercial developments in the area.”
Richard Webner is a freelance journalist covering Austin and San Antonio, and a former San Antonio Express-News business reporter. Follow him at @RWebner on Twitter
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