A new concept on the East Side is taking the communal bar concept one step further, by giving guests a way to give back while they imbibe.
The Cherrity Bar quietly opened at 302 Montana St. on March 22, but it is just now getting into the swing of things. Located on a former residential lot, the project from husband-and-wife team David and Pam Malley has become an essential San Antonio watering hole thanks to its homespun atmosphere, large backyard patio, neighborhood vibe, and greater mission.
The project has been a long time coming for David, a restaurant industry vet who also owns a pressure-washing business and invests in East Side rental homes. The Cherrity Bar was born after David traded his father some of those rentals for three tumbledown houses.
The entrepreneur looked past their ramshackle condition and saw an opportunity to create a new enterprise that could benefit the community. He also saw a way to help children like his son, Connor, who has Tourette syndrome.
As part of their business model, the Malleys give 10 percent of each month’s bar proceeds to the Tourette Association of America, where Pam serves on the education advisory board.
"We just wanted to find a way to support the Tourette Association,” Pam recalls, “but there were all these other great local charities.”
So the Malleys decided to expand the mission, dedicating the bar’s remaining monthly proceeds to other San Antonio-area nonprofits and initiatives.
Cherrity Bar partners with SA2020, a local nonprofit that helps track the city’s overall community progress using several social, economic, education, and cultural indicators. SA2020 helps identify different nonprofits that could benefit from the fundraising, but any nonprofit can visit the bar’s website and apply to be a featured charity.
“Applications can be saved for one year,” Pam says. “So, if you don’t fit one month for some reason, you could [be a] better fit another month.”
Charities are usually grouped by theme and share the remaining 90 percent of Cherrity’s proceeds in a 60/30/10 percent split. Customers actively participate in the altruism. Each beverage purchase comes with a token, which can be dropped into a plastic box that bears the name of a featured charity. When the month is over, the number of tokens will determine how the featured charities split the proceeds after the TAA allocation.
It’s up to each participating charity to promote their fundraiser via social media and word of mouth. Featured charities are encouraged to spur supporters through fun events at the bar, such as game nights or happy hours.
“The more patrons they get in, the more votes they get,” Pam says.
To make sure the nonprofits draw in the crowds, the Malleys drafted some of the San Antonio hospitality world’s brightest stars. Acclaimed mixologist Jeret Peña, who oversees buzzy bars like Rumble and Tucker’s Kozy Korner with the Boulevardier Group, runs the bar program alongside Steven Raul Martín. The full bar focuses on Texas beer and spirits and approachable cocktails, and Peña is even down for mixing a special cocktail to match the month’s fundraising theme.
For bites, chef Michael Sohocki of Restaurant Gwendolyn fame has opened Ramen Bar, a scaled-down version of his Kimura concept. Eventually, Cherrity Bar will offer a deli-style menu, and different food trucks usually post up around the backyard patio.
The concept is family-friendly and open to all ages. Yard games offer diversion for both younger and older guests. And there’s a selfie window featuring a background view of the Alamodome and Tower of the Americas.
Keeping their son’s experiences in mind, the Malleys are developing a sensory-friendly room for children and teenagers on the autism spectrum, who may struggle with overload onsite. Pam, a speech pathologist, says parents of youngsters on the spectrum often end up taking their children home if they are struggling on an outing. That won’t be a problem at the Cherrity Bar.
The up-and-coming location isn’t posing much of a problem either. Though Pam says it’s taking time for people to notice the newer area enterprises, concepts like Dignowity Kolaches, Dakota East Side Ice House, and Sweet Yams are helping make the East Side a hot spot. And the Dignowity Hill and Denver Heights neighborhoods are hungry for more.
“This is a historic neighborhood, a beautiful neighborhood,” Pam says. “We’ve talked with our neighbors and everybody is very nice.”