A San Antonio icon for underground music that was silenced by violence nine years ago is finding new life.
Taco Land, located at 103 W. Grayson Street, closed its doors in 2005 when owner Ramiro "Ram' Ayala and another employee were shot and killed during a robbery.
On Wednesday night, the bar reopened under the same name but with new management.
Once the home of misfits and punk rockers, Taco Land has been transformed by new owner Chris Erck. "It's become an outdoor venue, whereas before it was entirely inside, so now it's a 90 percent outdoor venue," Erck said.
While it's not the same place regulars will recall, many elements of the old Taco Land have been incorporated into the new bar.
"Some of the things we left is parts of the bar and parts of the graffiti. We still left the tile so you know it's still familiar," Erck said. "We're making use of the tree and the beautiful space under the tree."
While some former regulars are not happy the bar has been reopened as Taco Land, the new owner does have the support of Ayala's family. One of Ayala's daughters, Sylvia Navarro, said she supports Erck but knows one thing will always be missing.
"We're happy that they preserved a lot of the place," Navarro said. "It's never going to be the original Taco Land. My dad was Ram and there's never going to be anyone else like him. He loved this place. He would be very happy to see everything around here."
Erck said he isn't trying to recreate Taco Land but he does want to honor its past. "The DNA is still there but it's not the same place, it can never be the same place," Erck said. "It was larger than life because of Ram, and his personality is really what Taco Land was and without him it can never be that, but we hope that we can respect the legacy that he left us and build on that."
Taco Land is currently having a soft opening but Erck plans to have the bar running at full speed in the coming months. He says they'll have 36 beers on draft and 99 different bottles, as well as cocktails and wine. A full kitchen will also be added and live music will soon return to the venue.
"We'll start our music program in a couple of weeks," Erck said. "We'll play the music of the times just like Taco Land did."