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Cover 02/27/2013

Andrew Weissman poised to open The Luxury in addition to two more restaurants

Photo: ALL PHOTOS BY JOSH HUSKIN, License: N/A

ALL PHOTOS BY JOSH HUSKIN

Photo: N/A, License: N/A

ALL PHOTOS BY JOSH HUSKIN

Work in progress at Minnie's Tavern


In the last few years, San Antonio has seen an exponential rise in the number of quality restaurant offerings, several of them from native son Andrew Weissman. The award-winning chef, restaurateur, and culinary mentor, also a devoted husband, and father to three children under the age of six — will soon be adding two new venues to his portfolio and the growing list of choices for San Antonio's culinary set. His long-awaited outdoor informal spot, The Luxury, located next to San Antonio

Museum of Art at the corner of Jones and Ave. B, has finally made it past the last stumbling blocks (both personal and bureaucratic) to secure the necessary permits, inspections, and other details that have been holding up the venture for over two years.

In November, Weissman purchased the building owned and operated by Boehler's — formerly occupied by the Liberty Bar — to open Minnie's Tavern, where the menu will focus on the classics of French brasserie cooking, with fine beer and wine on tap.

We're discussing these two new ventures (with a third in the works) over an excellent cappuccino, after the lunch rush has cleared at his successful Osteria Il Sogno at the Pearl. He's just checked the status of things at his seafood restaurant, The Sandbar, taken a quick phone call from his wife, and checked his e-mail one last time before focusing his attention entirely on the conversation at hand. Highly energetic and competitive by nature, Weissman says, "I used to be interested in all the accolades and awards. Now I'm much more interested in spending time with my wife and kids."

To balance the near-manic energy level it takes to keep tabs on his kitchens and business operations, Weissman is an avid fitness fanatic and yoga practitioner. He states in a friendly but unequivocal tone that, "All my staff knows to not call me with anything work related on Sundays," because that's his family day, and his goal in the coming year or two is to find at least one more day each week to spend with his wife, Maureen, and their young children. That's a tall order for any parent in today's hectic world, much less for a man neck-deep in the notoriously stressful, fickle, and all-consuming restaurant business.

Why, then, would he open not one, but two (and maybe three) new restaurants? Recognizing the inherent contradiction, he smiles and shakes his head, as if to say in jovial self-defense, "Yeah, I know it's crazy, but it's all part of a bigger, long-term plan…" Yet the same intensity and focus that allows him to keep the egos, processes, and details of running the fast-paced chaos of a high-end restaurant kitchen under control and focused on the end-product seems to keep his personal life running with the same passion, commitment, and clarity of purpose. To understand his logic, he says, you have go back to the beginning.

His local "empire" started with the legendary Le Rêve, an establishment featuring such exquisite food, fine service, and Weissman's personal attention to every detail that people were flying in from all over the country just to have dinner. Opened in 1998, Le Rêve was generally considered the best French haute-cuisine restaurant in town, probably the state, and among the best in the nation, receiving mention in Gourmet and the New York Times. Expensive and exclusive — it could take weeks to get a table — dinner at Le Rêve was an event. Weissman limited the number of tables to accommodate the level of concentration needed to prepare the kind of meals he was serving, and the exclusivity bolstered the mystique. Weissman was (and still is) notoriously exacting in his expectations of suppliers, his staff, and even his clientele: dinner could take hours by the time each course was meticulously prepared, exquisitely plated, and properly served, and Weissman's passion for the subtleties of French culinary tradition was such that he frequently came out to visit with customers about the finer details of the dishes he was preparing for them. For those in tune with the aesthetic, it was a gratifying meeting of minds. For those unfamiliar with it, it was a revelation.

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