Friday, November 27, 2015

Supper for Lunch at Hotel Emma

In San Antonio where the tourist industry is our top private employer, the opening of a new hotel rarely creates more than passing interest.  Hotel Emma, newly opened at The Pearl, is a notable exception since it has garnered more interest in the national press than usual and this excitement also extends to locals.  The Pearl is a destination for shopping, dining, and entertainment on the site of the old Pearl Brewery along the north end of our famous River Walk.  Named for Emma Koehler who ran the brewery in the early 20th century, Hotel Emma promises to be the anchoring jewel in a rapidly growing area of the city popular with tourists and residents alike.

I've wanted a look inside this building for a while so I joined friends for lunch at Supper, the hotel restaurant.  Lunch at a hotel restaurant?  It's not typical hotel fare--lunch was excellent with interesting choices and farm-fresh ingredients.

Supper's entry court with an old pipe from the brewery turned water feature seen on the left.  I didn't get photos inside the restaurant but you can see a few on this recent Remodelista post.

After lunch we walked around to check out the hotel designed by New York-based Roman and Williams.  Larder, Hotel Emma's version of a snack bar, is stocked with mostly locally-sourced ingredients.  Your choice of pastries, sandwiches, salad, and delicacies such as smoked duck breast can be enjoyed at one of their tables or outside along the river.

Roman and Williams, former movie set designers, carefully preserved details and layers of the 1894 brewhouse building which had been closed for a decade when construction began.  For a better look at the exterior see this post from December 2012.

A two-story library off the main lobby features 3,700 volumes purchased from a local collector.  The library was locked so we managed to peek through the glass.

Roman and William's design team not only preserved the patina of the building, they re-purposed pipe fittings as planters and surrounded doors with features like this piping unit.  A chandelier fashioned from an old bottle labeler presides over the lounge area.  Such architectural details alone make the visit fascinating.

Through the door above, Sternewirth, Hotel Emma's lobby bar, wows with Texas style comfort.  Love the belt detail on the sofa.

Factory floor planks top a generous table or you could claim a window seat.

A Piloncillo sugar mold holds succulents instead of the typical candles.

Bullnose bricks soften corners of the imposing fireplace.  Hotel Emma staff told us they give tours and we plan to return for that soon.  Wouldn't it be fun during the holiday season?

Bar with wine storage mezzanine above.  If only Michelangelo was available.

Conversational seating areas fashioned from old fermenting tanks.

Recycled pieces are the fun of discovery at Hotel Emma.

An enormous room, yet the space seems intimate and invites whiling away an afternoon in the unique surroundings.  Throughout the building are display cases of found objects.  The designers approached the initial phase of the project as archaeologists, preserving everything from old paper files to a 1925 delivery truck.

Cozy nook cuts the enormous space down to size.  Not sure I could get too comfy with the giant old condenser unit overhead!

On our way out we took a look at the adjacent Southerleigh restaurant to see if it should be next on the list of places to lunch.  Kegs in the entry off Hotel Emma's lobby.  Yep, looks like a good choice for lunch.

Hotel Emma's entry court features an outdoor fireplace with the same rounded or bullnose bricks used inside.  Pearl Beer used the three 'X' symbol as its logo, an element repeated in the concrete tiles.

Nice view out from the fireplace.  My car awaits......I can wish, can't I?

And here's the gang warming by the outdoor fire after exploring the hotel.

An unusual gravel drive for a city hotel.  Hotel entrance is just past the grain hoppers.

Another reason for locals to visit the Pearl.  In contrast to downtown, ample free parking is available all around the Pearl.

We walked over to the river which is just a few steps away.

Looking back toward the hotel along with new luxury apartments going up, we admired this combination of Purple Heart and Pink Muhly.

Hotel Emma from the river bridge.  A special events space fronts the river and Larder provisions shop is on the far corner of the building.

A wonderful way to begin the holiday season.  Can't wait to take a guided tour.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving!

This sweet Fox planter was a gift from my friend Jeannette.  I immediately planted it up with succulents and placed it on the sill above the sink.   It's been a few months so I just replanted it and, since a bright window is not the best background, we went for a walk together in the garden!

It's been good weather this fall and there are still plenty of nice blooms in the garden.

This week, as everyday, I'm thankful for my many blessings.

Wishing all my friends a Happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Garden for Hope and New Beginnings

Since beginning this blog I've toured many gardens and they are all special for different reasons but usually it's the plants or design or both.  The garden I toured on Friday stands out for reasons having little to do with gardening.  I joined my friends from Gardening Volunteers of South Texas (GVST)  to tour Haven for Hope, a place that shelters and feeds homeless individuals and families while providing a place of "transition and transformation" for those who are ready to take that step.

First we'll tour the campus to gain a little perspective.  We began at the visitor's center with a short introduction and then entered the secure area.  I was pleasantly surprised by the well-kept landscaping throughout the facility.  This campus opened in 2010 and is 37 acres near downtown.

Agaves just inside the gates.

Roses, Plumbago, and Lantana brighten the library entrance.

We toured "The Courtyard" which is open to the street and provides a safe place for sleeping.  No photos allowed but you get the idea.  The courtyard is separate from the residential facility seen in the photos below.  Norene Casas, one of the volunteer coordinators, was our tour guide and provided details about life at the center.  Staff and counselors are visible throughout the campus should anyone need urgent assistance.  There is even a kennel for pets so someone in need does not have to leave their pet behind.

At the quadrangle looking across a lawn toward the library shows a pleasant design.  There is no irrigation here so using native and adapted varieties is key.  The architect on the project interviewed a range of interested parties throughout the city prior to planning the design and has recently held follow-up meetings with the staff to determine how the design is working and recommend changes.

A chapel to the left holds regular services from different denominations.

Labyrinth near the chapel provides space for reflection.

San Antonio Food Bank feeds residents three times a day in a cafeteria setting.  St. Vincent de Paul Society feeds courtyard residents.  Haven for Hope is owned and operated by Bexar County but there are many private organizations to help out.  Public-private partnerships are something we do very well in San Antonio.

Then it was on to tour the adjacent garden.  It's small but very well done with colorful flowers visible from the walkway to attract attention.

Our host for this part of the tour is Andrew Waring (on the right in red t-shirt).  Andrew began volunteering in the Food Bank kitchen and was recruited to start a garden.  Knowing little about gardening at the time, he signed up for master gardener training and joined GVST.

I'd say he's gotten quite good at it.  Andrew is retired from the Army and spends 3-4 days a week here.

Marigolds help keep out aphids.

Now that the garden is established, Andrew plans to teach residents, especially children, to garden.  The tubs against the fence behind on Andrew's right will be used to create small Square Foot Gardens that families can take with them.

When a patio umbrella at Andrew's house wore out he repurposed the frame as a support for beans.  It looks great so I'll keep a look out for discarded umbrellas now.

Beautiful green peppers.  Andrew follows the schedule established by the county extension service.

Jalapenos too.

Bright zinnias in the background with cabbage.

Herbs look yummy.  Sage just in time for Thanksgiving.

Home Depot, a charity partner at Haven for Hope, donates plants, soil, mulch, and tools.  Andrew will also take any plants or materials local gardeners might wish to donate.

I just loved this bright fence of pallet gardens with herbs.

Milkweed, both tropical and native, for butterflies.


After touring the veggie and herb garden, we follow a path lined with Malabar Spinach at the back of the garden.

Checking out tool storage.  Good use of pallets again.

Continuing the pallet re-purposing theme, compost bins.  Is this a color palette?

We arrived at the charming butterfly garden--literally built in the shape of a butterfly.

So pretty and cheery

On the way out we get another look at the campus.

Outside the gate I paused to take photos of this mural along the parking lot.  Butterflies as a symbol of transformation.

Haven for Hope began as a way to help homeless veterans and now serves the larger community.

A man stopped to tell me that he has often found inspiration in the mural and reminded me to read the words.

Haven for Hope is just north of downtown San Antonio.  Check the link for tour times and information.

The San Antonio Express-News recently featured Andrew and his garden here.  I am so impressed with the work Andrew is doing.  He can use more help in the garden so if you can lend a hand let me know and I'll put you in touch with Andrew.