New beginnings

San Antonio burger chain quickly fires up new cafe on North Side

San Antonio burger chain quickly fires up new cafe on North Side

Papa's Quickdraw BBQ San Antonio
Papa's Quickdraw BBQ has shuttered, but the owner has already opened a new cafe. Papa's Quickdraw BBQ/Facebook

Robert Walker, the owner of Alamo City’s uber-popular Papa’s Burgers, was only able to keep his Papa’s Quickdraw BBQ open for a few months, but that isn’t keeping him down. After shuttering the drive-thru barbecue joint in late October, he is now the proprietor of a new North San Antonio cafe.

Walker tells CultureMap that he closed Quickdraw after the eatery’s partnership dissolved after a brief four-month run. Days later, he quietly debuted Papa’s Water Cooler Cafe in the McAllister Plaza Building at 12054 Blanco Rd. the first week of November.

The busy restaurateur says Water Cooler is three concepts in one. While it operates as a quick-serve cafe, the eatery provides the service of a traditional sit-down restaurant. A small convenience store located inside sells staples to downtown office workers on the go.

The name is a nod to its office building home, but Walker also prides himself in giving the place a chatty, Cheers-like atmosphere.

“Some of the greatest ideas are discussed around the water cooler,” he says.

Open from 7 am-3 pm, Monday through Friday, the cafe serves breakfast tacos and buttermilk biscuit sandwiches during the morning hours and sandwiches and salads for lunch. Homestyle meals and catering will come by the end of the year.

Though the offerings aren’t upscale, Walker’s standards are. None of the ingredients come from a can and the tortillas are made in house. More importantly, Walker expects the staff to treat each guest like family. “To me, service is a lost art,” he explains.

Even though Water Cooler is demanding his full attention currently, the Quickdraw idea isn’t off the table. He hopes to bring it out of hibernation at a to-be-determined location sometime in 2020.

“It was a very unorthodox approach to barbecue in San Antonio,” says Walker, but “it worked.”