Downtown San Antonio trades vintage speakeasy for stylish new bar
The Alamo City has had so many bar shuffles over the last several months, locals practically need flash cards to keep up with the changes. Now, San Antonio can add another to the deck as local entrepreneur Raul Correa transforms the former home of Juniper Tar at 244 W. Houston St. into Vanguard Trading Co.
Correa — also the owner of popular concepts Ceviche Ceviche, 151 Saloon, Whiskey Tree, and Tiny Cantina — says he is currently shooting to open Vanguard by the end of July. The concept will be a departure from the building’s previous occupants, which closed in June 2018 due to an IRS tax lien.
“We don’t want someone walking in to think it’s just Juniper Tar,” he says of the bar, which closed in July 2018.
Although Correa couldn’t resist keeping Juniper Tar’s signature chandeliers, the former’s vintage speakeasy vibe will give way to a much more contemporary environment. For starters, the inside and outside of the building have been painted a bright white. Correa also removed the covers on the windows and doors, opened up wasted space in the building, and is adding large windows.
Pending permits, the bar will also have a small patio that will seat approximately 15 guests. The idea is for Vanguard to be a casual neighborhood spot.
Helping out with the beverage program Vanguard are Derik Cortez and Jake Corney, both longtime fixtures of San Antonio’s hospitality scene. The team will initially take a measured approach, first offering classic cocktails and crowd pleasers before building the full menu.
“Sometimes you have to wait until you see what the neighborhood wants,” says Cortez.
Cortez does let it slip that a more ambitious drink list will debut in a few months. The menu will take a trip through San Antonio’s history, with each page representing a drinking era from the city’s beginnings in the 1700s to its current status as a mecca of modern barcraft.
“We really wanted to showcase San Antonio’s full heritage,” Cortez explains.
In addition to handcrafted cocktails, Vanguard will also serve a limited food menu comprised of charcuterie and cheese boards. And in keeping with the Trading Co. part of the name, a section of the bar will be devoted to selling local dry goods.
Though many of the touches may be upscale, the team agrees that they want Vanguard to be comfortable for the shorts and flip-flops crowd.
“We want it to be a place where everybody gets to know each other,” says Cortez.