McIntyre’s Spirits + Friends, a sports bar chain from Houston, has begun construction on its first San Antonio location, on the 1000 block of South Presa Street in Southtown, across from The Haven Southtown, formerly Taco Haven.
Though it has yet to take shape, McIntyre’s has already ruffled the feathers of some who live in the Lavaca neighborhood—some who take issue with the bar’s architecture, and others who fear the area is becoming too bar and restaurant heavy. In early February, some of these views were expressed on the “We Are Southtown” Facebook group page, where others hoped the new sports bar would draw in more people to visit Lavaca’s other businesses.
For McIntyre’s new building, the restaurant space last occupied by The Patio grill, which faced South Presa, and the old car wash that faced South St. Mary’s were leveled. Construction started earlier this year.
San Antonians, especially those living in Lavaca and neighboring King William, can expect an ice house-ish neighborhood sports bar that boasts craft beer, craft cocktails, a dog-friendly patio, wine, games such as cornhole, and big-screen TVs “blanketing” the establishment.
It’s scheduled to open in late 2022, McIntyre’s co-owner Kyle Berg said in an email.
“We’ve been actively looking at San Antonio as a potential landing spot for future McIntyre’s locations for a few years now,” Berg said. “On top of the fact that it’s a rapidly growing market, the McIntyre family has roots in San Antonio.”
Two of the partners, Chase and Brian McIntyre, got their start in hospitality industry while attending the University of Texas at San Antonio.
Food trucks will occupy the premises, but Berg said two weeks ago they haven’t yet decided on the lineup.
In an email, Melissa Stendahl, the recently elected president of the Lavaca Neighborhood Association, talked about the importance of adding a diversity of businesses to Lavaca, ones that fit the neighborhood’s “historic nature and walkability.”
“Entertainment options are welcome and important, but there’s also the concept of balance with other services for those who live, work, and raise children here,” Stendahl said.
When McIntyre’s began construction earlier this year, photos of the construction site posted on Feb. 11 to the “We Are Southtown” Facebook message board were met with mixed reaction. Some welcomed the influx of more bars. Also, on this block of South Presa, Bar Ludivine opened late last year, while Hands Down opened a few weeks ago. But others lamented that some of the issues other inner city neighborhoods have complained about, most notably noise and public intoxication complaints emanating from Tobin Hill residents who live next to the St. Mary’s Strip, might come to Lavaca.
Stendahl pointed out that many businesses in Lavaca abut residential properties, or are “only a few lots away.” She called for an assessment studying how future businesses might impact the neighborhood.
Berg acknowledged he’s heard such concerns from Lavaca residents.
“There is always going to be somewhat of a struggle when new developments happen in any neighborhood, as people are inherently uncomfortable with change,” Berg wrote, adding that the company has seen similar issues play out in Houston.
“While I can’t speak to the specifics of all the issues in each respective area of San Antonio, we are aware of the concern around our area and intend to be actively involved in addressing any issues that arise,” Berg said.
He said that in Houston, residents live next door to McIntyre’s Houston Heights location, and “we have been able to successfully coexist in this location for over five years now.”
Last year, while Braun Enterprises, the property’s owner, was pursuing demolition permits for the properties, the Lavaca Neighborhood Association caught wind and began to challenge McIntyre’s plans.
The plans never triggered the city’s historic review process because the properties don’t reside in the Lavaca Historic District, which is an area within the Lavaca neighborhood that’s designated as historic by the city of San Antonio.
Mostly, the neighborhood association said the architecture for McIntyre’s new building was “not in keeping with the style or massing of the buildings in the neighborhood, nor is it conducive to maintaining the aesthetic of the historic district,” the group wrote to the city’s Office of Historic Preservation in September 2021.
One of the main issues was the setback, or the amount of space between the building’s facade and the sidewalk, compared to retail strip across the street, Nick Melde, the Lavaca Neighborhood Association’s planning director, said in an interview. The neighborhood association also criticized the demolition of the former Patio building, which, they said, could have been reused while maintaining Lavaca’s character.
“This to me has nothing to do with the company, I’m fine with the bar,” Melde said. “I think it’s going to be very successful. We’re just looking at: What’s really great about Southtown—King William and Lavaca—is the fact that these same buildings have had multiple lives. I feel like this (new) one is being designed for a very specific one-off instance.”
“It’s not cohesive with the South St. Mary’s, South Presa corridor context,” Melde said. “And that’s what I told them. I believed it was more of a suburban building.”
The Southtown location is modeled largely after the original McIntyre’s in Houston Heights, which opened in 2016 with a similar indoor and patio layout. The second location opened last summer, Berg said, in a multi-story building in downtown Houston.
Berg said the McIntyre’s ownership group was drawn to Southtown for its similarities to the Houston Heights neighborhood.
“They are both historic neighborhoods with great culture, art and an emerging restaurant scene,” Berg said.
Hours of operation will be 4 p.m.-midnight Monday-Wednesday, 4 p.m.-2 a.m. Thursday, 2 p.m.-2 a.m. Friday, 11 a.m.-2 a.m. Saturday, and 11 a.m.-midnight Sunday.
Heron Editor Ben Olivo has been writing about downtown San Antonio since 2008, first for mySA.com, then for the San Antonio Express-News. He co-founded the Heron in 2018, and can be reached at 210-421-3932 | email@example.com | @rbolivo on Twitter
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