The upscale restaurant opened for business in an existing 1920s building on the border of the historic Lavaca and King William Districts, and was beautifully refurbished by Christopher Sanders of Austin-based Sanders Architecture.
The team was inspired by Samuel Augustus Maverick, a legendary Texas lawyer, politician, landowner, cattle rancher and signer of the Texas Declaration of Independence. A free-spirited character, Maverick refused to brand his cattle and allowed them to roam freely across his sprawling Matagorda Island ranchland. Eventually the other ranchers on the island began referring to this rogue livestock as “mavericks.” The term eventually came to mean a person who is independent-minded and goes against the grain.
Located within walking distance from the San Antonio River Walk and spanning from South St. Mary’s Street in front to South Presa Street in back, the building is comprised of three different structures built during the last century. The architecture of the interior space carefully joins these three structures, incorporating the existing timeless materials into the design while navigating changes of grade between the three. Original exposed brick walls highlight the rustic, historic nature of the buildings. “We took care to maintain the historic qualities of the building’s exterior, only making meaningful design interventions where it mattered most: the main entrance, lighting, sidewalk seating and the patio area,” says Sanders.
The design of the 240-seat, 8,500-square-foot restaurant creates three unique dining experiences: the Tavern Room, the Chef’s Kitchen and Le Palm, a covered patio surrounded by a 50-foot hedge of Rhaphis palms. “Each space is uniquely different, drawing from the volumes and materiality of the existing buildings and a different design approach for each room,” says Sanders. The different spaces allow both casual and special occasion dining, family dining on the patio or in the Chef’s Kitchen dining room — where guests can catch a glimpse of chefs at work, or date night in one of the many strategically placed tables for two.
“The Chef’s Kitchen and La Cave wine room bring in celebratory-minded folks who get a special place to hang together,” says Peter Selig, Maverick’s President and Founder, who also co-founded San Antonio stalwarts Biga on the Banks and Ácenar. “We seem to be able to mix the crowds with a seating and interior design in which we spent a significant amount of time, and people are really responding to being in the space.” All tables and banquettes were custom designed and made, and the color scheme, the materials, the music system and lighting combine to create a welcoming atmosphere for brunch, lunch, dinner, happy hour and late-night dining. “Our location draws neighborhood, downtown visitors and foodies from throughout the city, so it is a real mash-up of locals and visitors to Southtown,” adds Selig.
The team’s goal was to achieve a relaxed, unpretentious “New York look” while keeping the space authentic to Southtown and the retail-industrial architecture of the 1920s and 40s. Selig has known Sanders for a long time as a friend and was impressed with his designs of hospitality spaces in Austin, as well as his collaborative and enthusiastic work ethic. To tie the architectural theme with the interior, Sanders brought in designer Mark Cravotta of Austin’s Cravotta Interiors to help with colors, materials and furniture. Cravotta incorporated details in a distinctive emerald green — a shade reminiscent of palm leaves — throughout the dining areas, including dining room chairs and banquettes enrobed in velvet upholstery. The color also makes an appearance on exterior signage, murals and window graphics by the Pentagram team, which also designed print collateral materials including menu designs, coasters, napkins, business cards and matchbooks. “We brought Pentagram onto the team after architectural design had begun,” says Sanders. Sanders, Cravotta and Pentagram worked together to be in alignment on design.
Given the lush green locale and the colorful history of Sam Maverick’s “independent” cattle grazing across Matagorda Island, the Pentagram team built the restaurant’s identity around a sophisticated but playful mark featuring a lone steer standing underneath a palm tree on a little green island. The exterior wall on the north side of the restaurant features a large-scale mural of the “lonesome island-steer” logo, and the south wall and awnings on the east and west entrances feature the Maverick wordmark. Locally renowned Norma Jeanne of Red Rider Studios hand-painted the logo lockups and additional typography in gold leaf on the windows.
“Maverick is a brasserie-inspired everyday restaurant with a menu that allows patrons to make their own rules, or be a real maverick, in how they put their meal together,” says Selig. “Brasseries are traditionally more liberal in their menu selections than bistros, so we select classics offered daily as plats du jour, and simply grilled or sautéed meats and fish.”
Chef Partner Christopher Carlson boasts a resume that includes the kitchens of Le Rêve, The Sandbar, Edera Osteria Enoteca and Silo, among others. The “a la carte” menu allows customers to choose their protein and portion size, with additional sides and sauces to complement their selections. At the center of the open kitchen is an Argentine-style wood grill that imparts a smoky taste in many of the dishes, as well as a warming atmosphere and a visual centerpiece. Joshua Thomas, Hospitality Director, Sommelier and Partner, has created a unique, accessible and affordable wine list. He also oversees the cocktail program of classic and signature libations served at an elegant hand-crafted copper-top bar, which serves as the center of the tavern design and is a warm and friendly space to visit with friends.
Selig sums up the team’s main directive while creating Maverick, “All in all, we hope to have created a new Southtown classic that will be popular and earn its keep with many regulars.”
MAVERICK TEXAS BRASSERIE
210-973-6050 | www.mavericktexas.com
ARCHITECT Sanders Architecture
512-482-9258 | www.sanders-architecture.com