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Adiós Revolution Room, Hello Leon

Photo: Courtesy photo, License: N/A

Courtesy photo


Change. Some campaign on it, creatures of habit can’t stand the thought of it. For Lee Beekly, owner of Revolution Room, change was necessary.

Beekly, who also owns Taco Garage and Rebar, decided to do a 180 with Rev Room.

“A year, year and a half ago, it started going in a different direction that we wanted,” Beekly said. “I’m older now, I wanted something different.”

The catalyst for the upheaval? Constant police attention the Revolution Room received in the past two years.

This wasn’t always the case. Beekly first partnered with Greg Bickerstaff to open Revolution Room eight years ago after a would-be trip to Berlin turned into an extended stay in Prague. There, Beekly visited coffee shops, discotheques, grotto clubs and learned about the Velvet Revolution (the former Czechoslovakia’s non-violent protest that led to the collapse of Communism there).

The bar was a go-to for area college students looking to barhop between The Hangar, Rebar and Salud without heading downtown.

But now 48 years old and a family man, Beekly’s looking for a change of pace from the “Dance Party, USA” culture.

Sure, Beekly admits, fights happen. But the rowdy, rough-around-the-edges crowd garnered attention from WOAI this past February, which interviewed fed-up neighbors about the weekly parking lot brawls. The segment, followed by a particularly gnarly fisticuffs session amongst bar hoppers near Rev Room, led to Beekly taking down the establishment’s sign, changing the dress code and finding new deejays within days.

The bar is taking on a new moniker, Leon, after Beekly’s grandfather, a geologist born in 1883 who scoured South America and Europe surveying the land for oil and railroads on horseback and later Model Ts. Photos of Leon and his work buddies are scattered throughout the bar, along with new wooden panels, antique tables and wagon wheel light fixtures.

The lifelong restaurateur and bar owner isn’t going it alone. Beekly’s enlisted the help of new partner and longtime Taco Garage patron Joel Rivas to rebrand Leon into a rustic, Americana-tinged ice house/whiskey bar/beer garden.

“We wanted to build something that fits into the neighborhood,” Rivas said of the bar space they’re hoping to turn “from a menace into an asset.”

The upgrades have been slow and steady: The two-month old patio will eventually incorporate a 1955 Spartan trailer outfitted with some 18-plus draught beers. Already, the beer and booze selection is looking up with the addition of craft brews and local spirits. Although the grand opening isn’t slated until August 16, and Beekly often wonders if the venture will stick, he’s finding some peace of mind.

“Sales might have plummeted, but so did the police blotter,” he said.

Leon

8123 Broadway
(210) 320-4567
facebook.com/Leon1883

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sa_20140723_broadway50501.jpg

Miriam Sitz

Broadway 5050 is Back, with Drink Specials to Prove It

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Broadway 5050 coming back from a pretty long intermission


Since 1947, Broadway 5050 has been an Alamo Heights staple. An unfortunate grease fire shut down the neighborhood bar and restaurant last summer for about a year, during which time ownership changed and the interior received a much-needed facelift. B’way 5050 reopened (smoke-free!) on Saint Patrick’s Day of this year with the husband/wife team of PJ and Nicole Gottsacker, indigenous Alamo Heightsers, at the helm.

Every day of the week, from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m., 5050 has your boozy needs covered in some way. Sundays see specials on greyhounds, bloody marys and dollar mimosas. “Service industry night” lands on Monday, beginning at 8 p.m. with $3 Miller and $4 Blue Moon. Tuesdays at 8 p.m. still mark the start of pint night, and though the glory days of $1 beer with your B-Fiddy Fiddy glass are long gone (I really dated myself by bringing mine), wells are $2 and beer ranges from $2 to $4 plus tax per pint, with basic domestics on the low end and fancier imports on the high.

Surprisingly, the crowd was meager on my Tuesday night visit. Karaoke began at 9 p.m., and while I’m usually quick to entertain with my questionable but enthusiastic rendition of “Santeria” (rest in peace, Bradley Nowell; heroin is bad news, everyone) the idea of singing to a crowd of six strangers felt a bit too … intimate for me.

To get you through the rest of the week, Hump Day specials include $5 Karbach and a dollar off all whiskeys, while Thursday ushers in deals on Tito’s, Alamo, Shiner and Rebecca Creek. Finally, Fridays don’t mess around: $3 margs and Dos Equis and $5 Patron. Go ahead–you’ve earned it.

My second visit, this time on a Saturday night, found a bigger crowd as well as some beer and cider specials ($2 Bud Light draft and bottle, $3 Strongbow and $3.50 Leinenkugel’s Summer Shandy). The more, shall we say, mature patrons gravitated toward the bar while younger 09ers held court in booths and at tables, noshing on wings, burgers and sandwiches. One older couple played pool, the owner’s TouchTunes digital jukebox playlist shuffled through various excellent hits of ’90s, ’00s and today (including “Santeria,” which felt like a good omen, and Trey Songz’s “Bottom’s Up,” which oozed late-college nostalgia) and several of the joint’s 11 TVs showed a particularly bloody cage fight.

Beyond the pool table, 5050 has a few arcade-style games and, best of all, free shuffleboard. (I won two out of two times, if anyone was curious.) Small tables and booths aplenty accommodate couples and smaller parties, while bigger groups can easily find seating at a long table in the bar’s main room or toward the back where a grande-sized booth faces the billiards and shuffleboard area. One important note about the interior décor: On a shelf in the corner, there’s a bust of Tim Duncan, serenely taking in the scene, guarded by a small, unapologetic garden gnome flipping the bird to bar-goers. Peep that shit for sure.

The kitchen stays open ‘til 10 p.m. and serves straightforward bar food often named for Quentin Tarantino’s films Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction, including fried pickles with chipotle ranch ($5.49; thin, crispy and tasty), deviled eggs ($4.99; respectable, if nothing to write home about) and chips and queso ($4.99). Heartier fare, such as the El Jefe burger ($9.99) with pico and blue cheese, or the legendary 0911 burger featuring ghost pepper cheese, bacon, jalapeños and chipotle mayo topped off with a fried egg (highly recommended by my bartender), is available to satiate the dinner crowd.

While weekday attendance has been a bit hit or miss thus far, the generous drink specials, solid pub eats, friendly bartenders and rotating entertainment (trivia and increasingly frequent live music, in addition to karaoke; check their Facebook for specific event info) would indicate that the new and improved Broadway 5050 is on track to re-emerge as the boisterous, packed venue it once was.

Broadway 5050

5050 Broadway
(210) 832-0050
broadway5050.com

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Flavor File: Special events focus on food education, new hours for Hot Joy

Photo: paytonphotography.com, License: N/A

paytonphotography.com

Huzzah—SoBro Pizza Co. is now offering personal pies


We’re getting another serving of Pakistani food, eaters. Kohinoor Restaurant (8513 Starcrest, (210) 637-7360), known for its 100-percent Halal kebabs, paneers and tasty samosas is adding another location at 9425 Fredericksburg. The staff at the original Kohinoor was busy working out opening kinks over the weekend at the new location, but both eateries should be operational by our press date.

Hot Joy (1014 S Alamo, (210) 368-9324) fiends should be happy to know they can eat pan-Asian fare seven days a week now. The eatery, which had been closing Tuesdays and Wednesdays to let staff regroup, will now open 11 a.m. to 3 pm. and 5 p.m. to 2 a.m. daily so you can eat at Hot Joy for lunch, dinner and a late-night snack every day of the week.

While on the topic of lunch, SoBro Pizza Co. rolled out a new menu this past weekend that includes a new “Little Bro” personal pizza option in case you don’t want to order a large pie during your lunch hour. The personal pies start at $8 for a marinara pizza with San Marzano and shaved garlic and cap at $13 for the Italian meats offering.

Need help with your salsa making? Casa Navarro (228 S Laredo) and UTSA Special Collections will host an evening filled with historic Mexican cookbooks and Tejano gardening, describing how that information is still handy in the modern kitchen. Stop in for an ingredient hunt, lectures, cookbook recipes and a salsa-making demo (and tasting, obviously). The free event will be held Friday, July 25 at 6 p.m. Call (210) 226-4801 for more info.

TEDx communities are so hot right now. For those unfamiliar, TED is a non-profit devoted to spreading ideas; TEDx is a localized branch that helps communities, organizations and individuals start conversations and connections through TED-like experiences. Having said that, TEDxSan Antonio and the Food Policy Council of SA will host a brainstorming session on Saturday, July 26 at Urban-15 (2500 S Presa) on how to improve education and food availability for residents. The $35 ticket available through eventbrite.com will include admission for the session with local speakers, and the following pop-up potluck with snacks by chefs Brooke Summers Smith, Jason Dady, Steve McHugh, Michael Sohocki and Elizabeth Johnson, plus munchies via Taste Elevated, GauchoGourmet and Bakery Lorraine, and sustainable cocktails by the Boulevardier Group.

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Lunchtime Snob: Pho Vy

Photo: Janae Rice, License: N/A

Janae Rice

Go ahead and dive in


There’s something extraordinarily balanced about a big bowl of pho. Its warm, steamy broth base, tender noodles and savory smell create a cozy feeling, which isn’t exclusive to dinner either. Enter the weekday lunch, meant to be quick, filling, hopefully tasty and, most importantly, cheap. That’s where Pho Vy (8223 Marbach) comes in.

On the far West Side in the H-E-B Plus shopping strip on Marbach, is Pho Vy Vietnamese Noodles. Like most pho places around town it advertises itself simply: “We have pho.” Seems straightforward enough and based on the amount of restaurants in San Antonio specializing in pho, it’s clear people here like the Vietnamese noodle soup.

Visiting a pho restaurant and not ordering a big ol’ bowl seems sinful, but often times you can find treasures in other dishes on the menu. Here, it’s best to stick with the frontrunner. Most of the pho bowls are priced at $7.95 and are divided into three sections: “For the Beginners,” “Just the Regular” and “The Adventurer’s Choice.” The only differences in these seems to be the protein options, which includes fatty flank and elusive tripe. Pho Vy offers seven different meat choices with the option to add additional meat or seafood to any dish for $2 extra.

I ordered pho with eye round steak and flank and found myself hunched over the bowl, slurping the soft noodles, crisp bean sprouts and perfectly portioned steak (they don’t skimp here) without saying much to my fellow diner. This pho can do that to you. Once I finished and looked up, I saw other diners sitting back in a full-belly, time-for-a-nap state. The soup comes out quick and once you’ve added the accompanied ingredients to your liking, it’s smooth sipping and guzzling from there.

The chicken noodle soup is another solid bowl with thinly sliced chicken breast and a lighter broth. After trying the grilled pork meatball in the spring roll appetizer, I started to second-guess my pho protein choice, but that means I’ll have to go back.

If you find yourself looking for something a little more wholesome than a sandwich or salad, try Pho Vy, which bills itself as the “health-conscious choice,” for lunch. The warm bowl of fragrant broth may make your day a little more comforting.

Pho Vy

8223 Marbach, Ste108
(210) 673-3955

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Veg Out with Earth Burger

Photo: Paytonphotography.com, License: N/A

Paytonphotography.com

What she order? Fish(less) filet


“Do you want cheese on that?”

“Yeah, sure.”

“Vegan or organic?”

“Um, what? Where am I?”

This is more or less how my first interaction at Earth Burger went down. I didn’t rule out the possibility of somehow being transported to Cali’s health-nut shores. Nevertheless, there I was ordering a No. 1 combo with cheese (organic), edamame and a drink. Maybe I had been kidnapped?

But instead of it being a veggie-fueled dream, the eatery is a very concrete reality. Let’s run through a quick timeline of Earth Burger, shall we?

In late February, the team behind Green Vegetarian Cuisine, which consists of brothers Mike and Chris Behrend, Paul Evans and Luann Singleton (the Behrends’ mom), announced their intentions to open Earth Burger, in order to provide healthy alternatives for the drive-thru set (think frazzled parents who don’t want their kiddo to eat from fast-food giants, but usually have no other choice than to pull in and yell their orders into static-filled intercoms).

In early April, Kickstarter officially approved Earth Burger’s campaign and the eatery was able to surpass its original $40,000 goal days before the 30-day deadline. I’m guessing the pop-up Earth Burger menu nights at both Green locations and exclusive donor events helped push it along.

It should come as no surprise then, that when Earth Burger finally opened its doors in mid-June, area vegetarians and other health-conscious diners were eager to get their hands on the promised fast food.

The restaurant is housed in what would have been a Starbucks, which wouldn’t have had the biggest kitchen around. Instead, Earth Burger’s prep area and grill line eats up a sizable chunk of the small edifice. Still, the space is used well. There’s a large round table for groups, a few vinyl booths to cram into, a bar and a smattering of outdoor tables for al fresco dining. Giant windows and tall ceilings make for an airy spot, and there’s plenty of room up front to order.

When it comes to decisions, the menu is short and to the point—burgers and wraps, kids’ meals, sides, drinks and desserts. That’s it. All but two menu items are vegan. By and large, Earth Burger and co. deliver on the promise of vegetarian fast food, with just a few minor kinks.

For instance, my Earth Burger patty, billed as having 68 percent fewer calories than its meaty counterpart, was good, but far from earth shattering. The addition of fresh lettuce, special sauce, thick tomato slices, pickles and onions helped jazz up the bun. The availability of hot edamame with a sprinkling of kosher salt did set the meal apart, though it should be noted that the original combo includes crinkle-cut fries (plenty crisp and delicious) and a drink. The edamame is listed as one of the $3 sides, so substituting it in place of the fries means there will be a small upcharge on the combo price.

The spicy chik-n-sandwich mirrors its corporate counterpart at Mickey D’s and could use a bit more heat, but it meets fast-food expectations, while menu highlights come via two unlikely sources—the grilled chik-n protein wrap and the “fish” sandwich. No, really.

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Comments in violation of the rules will be denied, and repeat violators will be banned. Please help police the community by flagging offensive comments for our moderators to review. By posting a comment, you agree to our full terms and conditions. Click here to read terms and conditions.
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