The Pearl-A True Renaissance

Published in the La Vernia News on October 2, 2014

'The Pearl' - A True Renaissance

    Just north of downtown San Antonio, where once were shabby, broken-down houses, is now an area simply known as the “Pearl.” The anchor of this 22-acre development is the old Pearl Brewery and, with its iconic red brick smokestack, is still a part of the San Antonio skyline.

Everyday Journeys

  Harry and Linda Kaye Perez

    The Pearl Brewery operated on this very spot between1883 and 2001. Although it was under several different names, it produced the same product – Pearl Beer. Supposedly, it got its name from Kaiser–Beck Brewery's brewmaster, in Germany, where the beer was originally formulated. The brewmaster thought the foamy bubbles in a freshly poured glass resembled sparkling pearls.

Giant Iconic Symbol of Pearl Brewery

Changing Times

     In 2001, after more than 118 years of proven success and several changes in its parent company, production was transferred to Miller's Brewing Company in Fort Worth, Texas. The old brewery buildings were abandoned and there was talk of completely demolishing the complex. It would have been a crying shame to lose such an architecturally pleasing and historical group of buildings.

  In late 2002, fate intervened with an announcement that the San Antonio River Walk expansion, now known as the Museum Reach, would be just feet from the old Pearl complex and would be eligible for incentives by the city to assist business development. BINGO!

  Silver Ventures, a San Antonio-based investment firm, purchased the brewery site with a plan to use the current structures and create a new gem for San Antonio. The vision was to create a “village” to include retail, office, and residential space where people could live, shop, eat, and work on the banks of the beautiful San Antonio River. Some of San Antonio’s finest architects and artists came together on this project to capture the essence of what San Antonio and South Central Texas represents.                          

The Stable- one of the Pearl's Event Venues

Old Buildings, New Uses

      One of the unique features of the Pearl is the re-use of the old buildings including the original names. The construction has taken salvaging and repurposing of historic material to a new level. Old contoured bricks from the boiler room are now the backdrop wall for wine racks at Cured, a charcuterie restaurant. Shelving at Tiny Finch Gift Shop was constructed from roof joists from the 1881 Brewhouse. Somewhere there is a chandelier made of glassware and tubing salvaged from the original laboratory building where beer products were formulated and tested.

Pearl Smokestack


   As you meander through the “village,” you will encounter a collection of eclectic designs. You will also find a collage of old tools that were used in the original brewery that have now become art - but still conjures up images of men at work. Another interesting sight is wheeled conveyor lines reconstructed into conference room tables that can be found in several of the administrative areas. And the list goes on.

      The Stable, a Victorian-style structure built in 1894, was the barn that housed the Pearl draft horses. It is now a magnificent event center able to accommodate 475 guests for a sit-down dinner. Can Plant Residences was specifically designed for urban lifestyles. And the Full Goods building, once was a warehouse, is now commercial offices, retail space, and restaurants.

    Currently, there are 14 restaurants including Green Vegetarian Cuisine, La Gloria Ice House, and the Granary Cue and Brew. Retail stores include one-of-a-kind boutiques, Bike World, Twig Book Shop, Run Wild Sports, and Ten Thousand Villages, that bring hand-crafted treasures from all over the world. The Pearl is also home of the world-renowned Culinary Institute of America.

     The Pearl Farmers Market takes place every Saturday from 9 AM to 1 PM directly in front of the historic Brewhouse and extends through Avenue A along Pearl Parkway.

The Boiler House at the Pearl

     Parking is not a problem at the Pearl and the best part is it is free and shaded. It is located under the elevated portions of Hwy 281 and gives visitors easy access to the entire complex.  

  Currently under construction is a 146-room hotel expected to open later this year. Pearl Park, a community gathering space, includes amphitheater seating overlooking a stage alongside the San Antonio River Walk.

   Construction of Phase II of the San Antonio River Museum Reach will begin soon and is expected to be completed in spring of 2015. Once completed, visitors will be able to walk from the Pearl all the way to the Witte Museum and the Brackenridge Zoo.

    The Pearl is a wonderful place to spend the day, whether you enjoy history, creative dining, a hand-crafted beer, unique shopping, or a beautiful walk along the San Antonio River - it will awaken all your senses.

The Granary Cue and Brew Restaurant
LaGloria Icehouse -Street Food at the Pearl
Green Vegetarian Cuisine
Inside the Culinary Institute of America
San Antonio River Walk-just steps from the Pearl

 Find out more about the Pearl,

   © Harry Perez 2012