Wine, music, and super-old dance halls are the best offerings of Central Texas. Texas’ oldest dance hall, in fact, Gruene Hall, is bringing both wine and music together at the 36th Annual Gruene Music and Wine Fest from October 6 to 9. In collaboration with KNBT 92.1 FM Radio, ticket and drinks sales from the four-day event in New Braunfels will benefit United Way of Comal County, which in 2021 received nearly $148,000 from the event.

Other festival costs are covered by sponsors (JP Morgan Chase & Co., New Braunfels Herald-Zeitung, and Texas Hill Country Wineries, to name a few). Visitors can participate in wine and beer tastings in between watching live shows at Gruene Hall and The Grapevine wine bar, another one of the event’s sponsors.

On Thursday, October 6, attendees will gather in the Grapevine Garden for tastings from Llano Estacado Winery, Becker Vineyards, Hilmy Cellars, and an unnamed brewery. Admission is free, and tastings are managed with drink tickets in increments of $5 per drink, which decrease to $4 when purchased in larger quantities. There will be live music and giveaways, followed by a ticketed performance from Josh Abbott Band at Gruene Hall.

Friday’s events are already sold out, but could inspire an itinerary for another day in Gruene, visiting the historic Gristmill River Restaurant right next to the dance hall. One of the draws to this day’s tickets was a “Great Guitar Auction,” followed by a performance from Pat Green.

Back at the Grapevine Garden on Saturday from noon to 6 pm, is a new event that mirrors Thursday’s tasting, this time with six wineries: Lost Draw Cellars, Fiesta Winery, Texas SouthWind Vineyard & Winery, Texoir, Los Pinos Ranch Vineyards, and Messina Hof. Josh Baca & The Hot Tamales and The Johnathans will play visitors through the six-hour tasting and into a ticketed concert by the Lost Gonzo Band, founded in 1972.

Sunday unplugs for a string of acoustic performances from 2 pm to 9 pm at Gruene Hall. The lineup hasn’t been announced yet, but Mattson Rainier of KNBT will emcee the all-day, 21-and-up show. The event ($40) promises “some of Texas’ best songwriters.”

When the festival was in its nascent years, it only filled one day, raising $450 for the United Way. The gigantic non-profit conglomerate claims a mission to “advance the common good,” which in Comal County includes support to several kids’, medical, and Christian groups. It also supports multiple food banks and resources for victims of domestic violence.

In general, tasting events are free and tickets can be pre-purchased online, or at the event. Concert tickets must be purchased ahead of time and may sell out. For more information and purchase links, visit gruenemusicandwinefest.org.

Photo courtesy of Sweetgreen

7 things to know in San Antonio food right now: Cult-favorite salad chain sprouts in the Quarry

News you can eat

Editor’s note: We get it. It can be difficult to keep up with the fast pace of San Antonio’s restaurant and bar scene. We have you covered with our regular roundup of essential food news.

Openings and closings

Vibey Los Angeles-based salad chain Sweetgreen is digging into the Quarry. In late August, the fast-casual eatery filed its intention to spruce up the former Max’s Wine Dive space at 340 East Basse Rd., #101. Known for its tech prowess and collaborations with celebrity chefs like David Chang, Sweetgreen has rapidly broadened its footprint since 2007. Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation project details say the spot will be ready for inspection in April 2023. Company reps did not return a request for comment.

San Antonio’s most lauded barbecue joint is firing up a new location. Another filing with TDLR reveals plans for a 2M Smokehouse at 1303 Lorenzo St. in Castroville. The restaurant, led by two-time James Beard-nominated pitmaster Esaul Ramos, will redevelop the former site of Dan’s Meat Market with a new kitchen addition, pit room, bakery, and outdoor seating. According to records, construction is expected to wrap up on June 30.

Move over, Baldwins. A less controversial quartet of siblings moved into the Omni La Mansión del Rio. Helmed by chef Andres Farias, Four Brothers began serving River Walk revelers on August 15. Replacing former onsite restaurant Las Canarias, the eatery finesses South Texas cuisine with Latin and French influences. Mains include a basil-crusted branzino, St. Louis-style ribs, and showy dry-aged tomahawk with confit potatoes and chimichurri.

Millennials looking to see the real-time financial impact of their latte habit can flock to San Antonio’s first Capital One Café as of August 18. The hustle culture hub, open to the general public, offers self-service banking, coworking space, and conference rooms. Capitol One credit and debit customers receive a half-off discount on drinks at the La Cantera shop.

Plant-based pizzeria Verve Pie is saying “thank you, next” to Cibolo. In an August 25 Instagram post, the restaurant explained it is looking to relocate to San Antonio. Staff shortages have made operations difficult for the last two months. Still, the restaurant wanted to hang on until existing employees could seek re-employment. A location within Alamo City limits will be closer to its customer base.

Other news and notes

Best Quality Daughter is taking a stand for reproductive rights. On September 11, the Pearl eatery will host a benefit dinner pairing chef Jennifer Hwa Dobbertin with Iron Chef personality Mason Hereford of New Orleans’ Turkey and the Wolf. Tickets for Good Trouble in Little China are $150 and will benefit Planned Parenthood South Texas and Lift Louisiana.

The Squeezebox is bringing a little sizzle to the St. Mary’s Strip with its inaugural Fajita Lounge Showdown on September 4. During the event, local chefs Kenny Loo of Golden Kirin Restaurant, Sergio Flores of La Tortuga Cocina Latina, Eddie Barrera of Sijang Korean Corn Dogs, Rory Torres of Crispy Bao Gang, and Steve Lopez will battle for a $500 prize. The $10 cover includes all-you-can-eat tacos and entertainment from The Texases.

Photo by Ruthie W/Yelp [https://www.yelp.com/biz_photos/the-grill-at-leon-springs-san-antonio?select=iczuhNohOKeKQVWwehmWjQ]

Yelp announces $100,000 in grants to boost local businesses and Texans

Yelp Help

It seems like every calendar year is named “challenging” for local businesses, and never without reason. Businesses need constant maintenance to stay ahead of the community’s needs, and Yelp, the consumer ratings company, wants to help beyond its usual search streamlining.

With help from celebrity designer and born-and-raised Texan Bobby Berk, Yelp is making sure Texans have a bit of a windfall. That may be families in need of home repairs or businesses working hard to keep up; either are eligible for a grant on the second annual Make It Happen Day on August 26.

The fund attributes 2022’s challenge to severe weather, which is what launched the inaugural campaign in 2021 after Winter Storm Uri caused widespread physical damage on top of the inertia of the pandemic. While each ridiculously hot day this summer brought the threat of a power grid collapse, Texas was able to stay on its feet, and was left instead with severe drought. Houston wasn’t so lucky in September, 2021, with Category 1 hurricane Tropical Storm Nicholas.

The fund will be split between 50 Texans receiving $1,000 for home improvements using professionals on Yelp, and five local businesses receiving $10,000 each, making a $100,000 grant in total. Individuals can enter by using Yelp’s Request a Quote feature, which matches them with professionals in the area, and submitting that quote on August 26.

The businesses are already chosen, including The Grill at Leon Springs in San Antonio. The other three businesses receiving $10,000 grants are Mico’s Hot Chicken in Houston, Humble: Simply Good Pies in Dallas, Texas French Bread in Austin, and Ambur Fire in Round Rock.

The inaugural round of funding went to five businesses, including San Antonio's beloved Comfort Cafe.

In 2021, Yelp partnered with Grace and Frankie actress and part-time Austinite Brooklyn Decker, who calls herself a “home decor fanatic” and helped spread the news. Bobby Berk, the home renovator of Queer Eye (and the subject of lots of memes about carrying your team), is taking over the spokesperson role in 2022.

To enter to win a $1,000 “Make It Happen Day” grant, search on yelp.com for a home services business you may be interested in hiring. Under each listing, there may be a button that says “Request a Quote.” Submit the quote on the giveaway site on August 26, 2022.

The Grill at Leon Springs in San Antonio is rebuilding after a large fire destroyed the facade.

Photo by Ruthie W/Yelp [https://www.yelp.com/biz_photos/the-grill-at-leon-springs-san-antonio?select=iczuhNohOKeKQVWwehmWjQ]
The Grill at Leon Springs in San Antonio is rebuilding after a large fire destroyed the facade.
Courtesy of Catholic Extension

30 Uvalde survivors head back to school with full scholarships

All for Uvalde

With back-to-school season in full swing, the hearts of many are with students in Uvalde who were affected by the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School earlier this year. A Chicago-based nonprofit, Catholic Extension, is offering up more than thoughts and prayers, awarding 30 full scholarships to children wounded during the massacre.

Following the shooting on Tuesday, May 24, approximately 80 Uvalde families sought immediate psychological relief by transferring their children from Robb Elementary School to Sacred Heart Catholic School. In response, Catholic Extension established a scholarship fund, seeking help through outside donations to meet the demand.

“Catholic Extension is committed to the ongoing care and support for the children and families of Uvalde, Texas," said Father Jack Wall, president of Catholic Extension, in a release. "It is our belief that awarding scholarships to Sacred Heart Catholic School will provide a safe and loving educational environment to children who are suffering from the physical and emotional wounds of violence.”

The group announced the scholarships on Monday, August 15 — for many, the first day of school — as part of their ongoing support for the wellbeing of the Uvalde families.

“The tuition assistance means everything to my son and our family,” Oscar Orona, father of a Robb Elementary shooting survivor, shared in the release. “My son has gone through a lot, and still has a long road to recovery ahead. At the very least, he deserves to go to a school where he feels safe. Thankfully with the support of Catholic Extension, he will now have that reality.”

On top of the student financial aid, the nonprofit is also supporting six religious sisters who will provide onsite emotional assistance during the first week of school to both the students and teachers of Sacred Heart Catholic School. Ultimately, 100 sisters total will serve the Uvalde and Catholic communities in various capacities over the next 18 months.

Sister Esther M. Guerrero said, “Returning to school is undoubtedly a scary and trying time right now for the kids of Uvalde, however they are filled with hope. This week, our focus is solely on showing the students, parents and teachers love and support through simply being by their side. We are here to serve this grieving community, no matter how big or small.”

This is not the first time Catholic Extension has offered significant support to the city of Uvalde. Its support helped build Uvalde's Sacred Heart Church in 1906, with Sacred Heart Catholic School following in 1912. To date, the nonprofit has supported more than 1,400 church communities in rural Texas and along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Courtesy of Culinaria

San Antonio Restaurant Weeks serves up specials from almost 100 local eateries

Dine and Donate

Restaurant Weeks is back, giving San Antonians two weeks to enjoy a variety of prix-fixe multi-course meals at participating local restaurants with some proceeds going toward promoting the Alamo City as a premier food and wine destination.

Organized by the local nonprofit Culinaria, Restaurant Weeks has nearly 100 San Antonio-area eateries and bars taking part in the twice-a-year event, with the summer edition unfolding August 13 through 27.

Participating locations will offer special three-course prix-fixe menus: $20 and $30 for lunch, and $35, $45, and $55 for dinner, with to-go options at select eateries, according to a Culinaria press release.

Some restaurants plan to offer additional course options, as well as wine, cocktail, and beer pairings. Menus from participating restaurants and bars are available on Culinaria’s website. Reservations are not required, but are encouraged as walk-in service can’t be guaranteed, the release says.

Culinaria President and CEO Suzanne Taranto-Etheredge says Restaurant Weeks provides an opportunity for San Antonians and visitors to try and explore diverse dining options at new, young and long-established restaurants, and to do it all for charity.

"The event also provides an opportunity for chefs to showcase the variety of food and flavors that define the Alamo City and South Texas,” Taranto-Etheredge says, adding that the local culinary industry is still recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic’s effects.

“As a community, we are still affected by the pandemic, so hours and menu availability are subject to change. Please be patient and kind to restauranteurs who are working to provide the best experience and service while working under unusual circumstances."

Culinaria uses events such as Culinaria and the upcoming Tasting Texas Wine + Food Festival, which debuts this October, to advocate for San Antonio as a hub of culinary, beverage, and hospitality recreation and education.

Photo courtesy of Vinovium

New Hill Country festival jams out with 15 Texas wineries and 3 bands

The Juice

Most people are more fun at jams with a glass of wine in hand. Chasing that feeling, the Texas Wine Jam is combining concerts and “off-the-beaten-path” wines September 4, for six hours of grape and foot-stomping fun.

The festival at Vinovium Winery in Johnson City benefits community causes in both wine and music. Each ticket sale contributes $2 each to the Texas Hill Country Wine Industry Scholarship program and the SIMS Foundation, an Austin-based organization supporting mental health and substance abuse resources for music industry professionals. The most recent data on wine scholarships shows that Texas Hill Country Wineries awarded a total of $12,500 to nine students at Texas schools.

On the wine side, this showcase includes 15 Texas wineries including Vinovium, which offers 13 wines on its website, including a Tempranillo blend from three different vineyards called “Social Distance.” It also sells bottled wine cocktails like El Niño, inspired by a Dark and Stormy, with Cardamaro from Italy, lime juice, and ginger beer. The winery has regular events ranging from very casual standup and trivia, to serious wine certifications.

Bringing the tunes, three local bands are visiting Vinovium. Bluegrass band the Lost Pines is well-known in Austin. The soulful Scott Strickland Band played its Blues on the Green debut this July, and is living up to its up-and-coming status with regular engagements with local music organizations. Finally, rock and roll group the Joey Green Band is showing off its singer, who caught national attention on NBC’s The Voice.

Every bottle purchased at the festival automatically enters the guest in a raffle for “one of several” cases of wine, with a mix of bottles from all the wineries involved. Some raffle winners will receive gifts sponsored by community partners including the Wine & Food Foundation, Waterloo Sparkling Water, and Texas Department of Agriculture initiative Go Texan.

The Texas Wine Jam is scheduled for September 4, with a rain check October 9. Tickets ($45 general admission) from 12 pm to 6 pm, are available at vinovium.wine. Vinovium Winery is located at 214 Edmonds Ave. in Johnson City.

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New Hellraiser is stylishly gut-wrenching, but lacks substance overall

Movie review

Horror franchises, even more than ones featuring superheroes, action stars, or animated characters, have proved themselves to be eternal. No matter how many times a villain or monster is bested by the hero of the film, filmmakers find a way to bring them back to try to wring more scares out of their presence.

The original Hellraiser came out in 1987 and was followed by nine sequels, including one as recent as 2018. But everything old is new again, and so now we get the reboot. An opening sequence reintroduces the series’ central device, a puzzle box that stabs unwitting users, thereby summoning horrific figures known as Cenobites to inflict torturous pain on those who’ve been stabbed.

Cut to a few years later and a group of young people are ensnared by the puzzle box’s allure, including the central figure Riley (Odessa A’zion), an addict who lives with her brother Matt (Brandon Flynn) and roommate Nora (Aoife Hinds). Riley’s boyfriend Trevor (Drew Starkey) convinces her to help him steal things from a warehouse, inadvertently bringing the puzzle into their lives. When Riley tries solve the puzzle, all hell is unleashed on the group.

Directed by David Bruckner and written by Ben Collins and Luke Piotrowski, the film is a stylish yet mostly empty demonstration of gruesomeness. The Cenobites – who go by names like The Priest (aka Pinhead), The Chatterer, and The Weeper – are freaky-looking creatures with all manner of flayed flesh and painful piercings. Their mere presence and supernatural ability to grab victims by chains and hooks is scary, but an actual reason for why they keep procuring more targets is lacking.

The story is hit-and-miss, with the main group alternating between heroic, stupid, or heroically stupid decision-making. Riley seems to be a person who’s unreliable at best, yet person after person tries to intervene on her behalf, a loyalty that is left unexplored in the film. While the way Riley and the others eventually fight back against the Cenobites makes sense, the scenes featuring those fights are uninspiring.

The most interesting aspect of the film is the one that is explored the least. A mysterious man named Voight (Goran Visnjic) is introduced in the opening sequence, reappearing in the film’s final act. He has a particular connection to the puzzle box and Cenobites that makes him half villain/half victim, one which could have been fleshed out a bit more to make him less one-dimensional.

A’zion, who kind of looks like Alia Shawkat, makes for an unusual protagonist. She’s not that expressive, so the audience really has to dig deep to empathize with her character. The other members of the group are also generic, never bringing anything that makes you want to care about them more. The actors playing the Cenobites are good, although the makeup does half the job for them.

This reboot of Hellraiser is the classic example of style over substance. Much effort was made into making the film look as good as possible, but the story fails on multiple levels, making all of those visuals in service of very little.

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Hellraiser debuts exclusively on Hulu on October 7.

11 must-see artists at ACL Fest 2022 — from Texas and beyond

Music Notes

It’s game time for two weekends of good times by way of Austin City Limits Music Festival. Since you certainly already have a must-see list comprised of the bigger artists on the lineup, here’s some choice acts — from Austin and beyond.

Must-see acts from Austin

Spoon
No one really needs to be told to see one of Austin's best bands of all-time. However, just in case you were thinking about skipping them, be sure to note that their 2022 release, Lucifer on the Sofa, plays great in a live setting. You can see them both weekends of the fest on Saturday at 4pm on the Honda stage.

Adrian Quesada’s Boleros Psicodélicos
Adrian Quesada (of Black Pumas) recently put out a solo album, Boleros Psicodélicos, and you’ll be able to check out all of its Latin America-inspired psych ballads during weekend one of ACL. Catch his set on Saturday, October 8, at 2:15 pm on the Honda stage.

Darkbird
Vet rockers Darkbird were supposed to play ACL in 2021, but a weather delay nixed their set. Expect the band, which is fronted by the always-spirted Kelly Barnes, to take full advantage of the do-over. Their only appearance at the fest will be Sunday, October 9 at 1:15 pm on the BMI stage.

Eric Tessmer
After a couple decades of dutiful shredding around Austin, guitar great Eric Tessmer has finally found his way onto an ACL lineup. His sure-to-be explosive turn at the fest is a weekend one only experience – see it on Sunday, October 9, at 5 pm on the BMI stage.

Good Looks
Indie rock act Good Looks are responsible for Bummer Year, one of the better albums to come out of Austin in 2022, so of course you should have them on your ACL radar. Catch this weekend two-only band on Saturday, October 15, at 1pm on the Tito’s stage.

Urban Heat
Get your new wave/post punk fix via Urban Heat during weekend two of ACL. The buzzy act, who recently put out an EP titled Wellness, will perform on Sunday, October 16 at 3 pm on the BMI stage.

Other must-see acts

Muna
LA’s own Muna, who are signed to Phoebe Bridgers' Saddest Factory imprint, head into ACL on a wave of acclaim for their 2022 self-titled album. The pop act has just a weekend one set on Sunday, October 9, at 3 pm on the Barton Springs stage.

Dehd
Dehd’s Blue Skies is loaded with some of the catchiest indie rock tracks you’ll find on any album in 2022, and that’s reason enough to catch them at ACL. The Chicagoans play both weekends – look for them each Sunday at 1:15 pm on the T-Mobile stage.

Magdalena Bay
Synthpop act Magdalena Bay recently dropped a deluxe edition of their hit 2021 album, Mercurial World, and now they’ll put it on display at ACL. Catch the LA-based act both weekends of the fest on Sunday at 4 pm on the Tito’s stage.

Wet Leg
Wet Leg had quite a bit of buzz heading into this year’s SXSW and the fervor surrounding the British indie rockers has only increased with the release of their self-titled debut album, which includes the infectious single “Chaise Longue.” The band is a weekend two-only play, and their set is Friday, October 14 at 2:30 pm on the Honda stage.

Faye Webster
The dreamy, gentle sounds of singer/songwriter Faye Webster will be a treat in the middle of the afternoon at Zilker Park. Be sure to catch the Atlanta-based artist during her weekend two-only appearance on Sunday, October 16 at 3 pm on the Barton Springs stage. By the way, don’t be surprised if Webster and her bandmates engage in some sweet yo-yo action.

Here are the top 5 things to do in San Antonio this weekend

Weekend Event Planner

Spooky sights and outdoor nights await in the days to come. Feel the thrill at the return of Fright Fest at Six Flags Fiesta Texas or celebrate all things fluttery at the Monarch Butterfly and Pollinator Festival. Check out the top five things to do in San Antonio this weekend. For a full listing of events, go to our calendar.

Thursday, October 6

Gruene Music & Wine Festival
Get outside of town and enjoy a culmination of music, food, drinks, and more at Gruene Hall. Gruene Music & Wine Festival attendees can enjoy four separate events over the course of four days, each uniquely tailored to Texas-inspired interests. Highlights include a curated tasting of Texas wine and beer and a private performance with Pat Green. Visit the festival website for a full schedule of events and to get ticketing information. Programming is scheduled through October 9.

Friday, October 7

Six Flags Fiesta Texas presents Fright Fest
Fright Fest is back at Six Flags Fiesta Texas with spooky, family-friendly daytime activities and chilling attractions when the sun goes down. Freaky festivities include haunted houses, scare zones, live shows, and seasonal updates to some of the park’s most popular rides. Fright Fest is open through October 31.

Bonnie Raitt in concert
Blues-singing songstress Bonnie Raitt comes to San Antonio’s Majestic Theatre for one night only. The “Love Letter” and “I Can’t Make You Love Me” star is returning to the tour circuit in support of her new album, Just Like That... Raitt will be joined by special guest Marc Cohn. Get ticketing information here.

Saturday, October 8

Texas Butterfly Ranch presents 7th Annual Monarch Butterfly and Pollinator Festival
Celebrate one of nature’s most graceful and captivating creations at Brackenridge Park Pavilion. This year’s Monarch Butterfly and Pollinator Festival is a month-long series of events including monarch tagging demos, waggle dancing, the forever journey altar, educational booths, and the traditional People for Pollinators Procession. Admission to the festival is free and open to the public. For a full schedule of events, go the festival website.

Gabriel “Fluffy” Iglesias: Back On Tour
Actor and comedian Gabriel “Fluffy” Iglesias brings fresh material and guaranteed laughs to the AT&T Center. Iglesias is one of the most-watched comedians on YouTube and has had roles in films like Magic Mike, Magic Mike XXL, and A Haunted House 2. Visit the ticketing website for show information and to reserve your seats.