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St. Mary's Street: The rise and fall of SA's ‘90s hot spot

New bar owners are hopeful a revival is underway

SAN ANTONIO – The rise and fall of St. Mary's street has left many wondering: What happened to San Antonio’s hot spot of the ‘90s?

Rise to prominence

Cindy De La Cruz said she remembers what the once iconic strip near downtown was like in its heyday.

"Back in the day, there were bars up and down St. Mary's Street," said De La Cruz. "You could walk to each and every one of them, go in and out, all up and down the street."

And, among the many draws to the strip, was Joey's, which is still standing today.

"Early ‘90s were big for St. Mary's Street," said Joey Villarreal, owner of the bar. "MTV had a big party. It was written up in some New York newspaper. It got a lot of national publicity."

The biggest draw, many say, was the live music with venues like the White Rabbit.

Laying blame

But even before the White Rabbit went away, St. Mary's Street started to fade.

"Outside residents started complaining about beer bottles and things showing up in their yards, parking and obstructing their parking lots," said De La Cruz.

Some say it was the surrounding neighborhood that put a stop to the party.

Some say it was crime.

But, Joey Villarreal, who opened Joey's on the strip said it was just progress and change.

"The city grew,” said Villarreal. "There were a lot more venues that did open up. A lot of them (customers) wanted to stay in their own neighborhood when they went out to have a beer or two or whatever."

Don't call it a comeback

However, Vikki Perez who works at The Amp Room said the St. Mary's of today is still thriving on live music.

"It's progressing," said Perez. "It's coming back up. We got a few new bars on the strip. We seem to get a little bit of a variety of people. We get our teeny boppers. We get our older crowd."

"I see the resurgence coming," said De La Cruz. "It's a good feel, a good vibe. It's friendly. It's easygoing and I hope it stays this way for a long time."

Villarreal said he sees a change too and that there are a lot of new owners, putting in money to their businesses and new energy to the street.

 


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