River RestaurantsSan Antonio, Texas


Lone Star Café, Michelino’s, Café Ole & Agave Bar

This project encompasses additions to, and comprehensive remodeling of, 3 contiguous historic buildings which together form a roughly triangular plan shape along the San Antonio River Walk. The 3-level southernmost building and 2-level middle building, each with a River Walk level, housed 3 bustling restaurants. The 1-level northernmost building, with a street level only, was a retail shop. The Owner’s desire was to add River Walk space for additional seating, construct a new central kitchen, and provide an overall upgrade to the entire facility -- all while keeping the 3 existing restaurants open for business.

A bold design approach was mandated. The northernmost building was gutted and its roof removed, leaving only the existing front and back facades in place between adjoining party walls. The street level floor slab was removed and the footprint was excavated to the river level. A new river level floor structure, a new street level floor, and new roof structure were then constructed. The completed ‘ship in a bottle’ building was effectively doubled in size while retaining its existing historic facades. Within this new space, a new river level dining room was added along with a 2-level state-of-the-art central kitchen and a new bar space. With new kitchen and dining spaces in place, existing ‘back of house’ functions were sequentially replaced. Existing dining rooms were remodeled, in turn. A refurbishment to the River Walk building facades and a new exterior elevator, providing access from the River Walk to the restaurants on both street and river levels, completes the transformation.