SAN ANTONIO – Every Oct. 1 for the past ten years, Eric Valadez said he and his family look at the cell phone video of the massive downtown fire in 2011 that destroyed the restaurant he and his brother, Hector, had opened two years earlier.
Poblano’s was one of several businesses that were housed in the building.
To this day, the four-alarm fire at the historic three-story Wolfson Building directly across from Main Plaza is considered downtown San Antonio’s largest in recent history, according to an SAFD spokesman.
“Something out of a movie. It was insane,” Valadez said. “Everything, everything was gone.”
Devasting though it was for him, his brother, and his father to watch, Valadez said they had faith.
“As long as we were all in it together, we would figure something out together,” Valadez said.
Enter Tony Cantu, who had opened a deli-type restaurant in a building owned by the Archdiocese of San Antonio, about a block away next to San Fernando Cathedral.
Valadez said his one-time competitor made him a generous offer.
He said Cantu told him, “Now that you don’t have a location, come take over this one here. I’m ready to retire.”
Valadez said Cantu even helped arrange it with the archdiocese.
“It literally made us closer to God, closer to the church,” Valadez said.
Not just in the physical sense, he said. Valadez said he also became more actively involved in the church.
Had it not been for Cantu and the archdiocese, he said, “We wouldn’t be here anymore. We wouldn’t be downtown.”
Now known as Poblano’s on Main, Valadez said the restaurant is doing well considering the pandemic.
“We’ve had to scale back substantially as well,” he said. “But we’re still around.”
Devastated though he was early that morning a decade ago, Valadez said he and his family are filled with gratitude “now that we were able to bounce back.”