San Antonio restaurant owner grateful business survived a decade after original location destroyed in large downtown fire

SAFD considers massive 2011 fire was downtown SA’s largest

Restaurant owner reflects on business destroyed 10 years ago in 4-alarm fire downtown

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.”

About the Authors:

Jessie Degollado has been with KSAT since 1984. She is a general assignments reporter who covers a wide variety of stories. Raised in Laredo and as an anchor/reporter at KRGV in the Rio Grande Valley, Jessie is especially familiar with border and immigration issues. In 2007, Jessie also was inducted into the San Antonio Women's Hall of Fame.

William Caldera has been at KSAT since 2003. He covers a wide range of stories including breaking news, weather, general assignments and sports.