It’s worth repeating that building has been added onto numerous times since Chris Madrids opened in ‘77, but there’s not been any significant work done in many years. A lot of building codes have changed since then, and so the fire damage triggered a huge amount of required code upgrades. Also, parts of the current building date back to the 50s, 40s, and even 20s, so there has been surprise after surprise as we’ve looked behind walls, looked into ceilings, inspected foundations, etc. It’s unfortunately taken a LOT of time and effort to figure out what to do, how to pay for it, redraw plans and get city approvals. And, since we were forced to do all this work, we figured we might as well do a few other things while we were at it so we’d be good to go for years to come.
If we’d just put it back the way it was before the fire, we’d have been flipping burgers in the building again MONTHS ago, but we think taking the extra time will pay off in the long run.
SINCE MANY OF YOU HAVE ASKED, HERE’S A QUICK RE-CAP OF THE TIMELINE SINCE THE FIRE:
January 2018 (3 months after the fire)
* Food truck (and all related structures) designed, built and food truck operation opened
* Preliminary plans finished, began reviewing them with city officials
* Received preliminary city plan approvals, formally submitted to the city for a building permit
* Obtained building permit to start construction
September – November 2018
* San Antonio received more than 25 inches of rain, ending the drought. Good for filling the aquifer, bad for rebuilding a restaurant
* Found out that the fire damaged bar building wasn’t structurally sound and needed to be torn down and rebuilt. After tearing it down, we discovered its foundation wasn’t sound either.
December 2018 – April 2019
* Started making real progress on renovations, but kept finding surprise after surprise (rotten wood, bad beams, etc.) that required us to repeatedly stop work, re-think decisions and costs, re-draw plans, and get city approvals
* In March we donated and moved the house across the patio to make room for the new private event building
* Finished Final Plan Revision, obtained last of the city approvals
SO WHY DIDN’T YOU JUST TEAR EVERYTHING DOWN AND REBUILD?
Admittedly, if we had it would have been a LOT cheaper and quicker. However, while it’s not exactly the Alamo, we do see it’s worth preserving such an iconic, loved and unique place and space – and judging by the comments we’ve received, so do a lot of you. We think we’ll be glad we did.
WITH ALL THIS WORK, WILL IT STILL FEEL LIKE CHRIS MADRID’S?
We sure think it will. Much of the work and effort has gone into things like new wiring, plumbing, air conditioning, and roofs – work you won’t even see once we put back the paneling. There will also be some other hidden things – for example, we also are building out a brand new, completely redesigned kitchen to speed up food delivery and improve working conditions for our hard-working kitchen staff – you won’t see it behind the familiar white kitchen walls, but you’ll notice the results in quicker service.
You WILL see some new things that were overwhelmingly suggested by many of you in our survey – bigger bathrooms, quicker ordering, easier access to salsas & drinks, etc. and more indoor & outdoor seating are at the top of that list. Oh – and after MANY requests over years and years, we’re constructing a new building across the patio. It will give us a new private room for parties and meetings of all kinds, plus extra indoor (and covered outdoor) seating for busy days.
And even though you’ll see some new things, Chris’ daughter, Lisa, is helping us put everything back in a way that we think will keep Chris Madrids feeling like Chris Madrids. So, the t-shirts that were cleaned and stored after the fire are coming back. So are things like the long wooden tables/benches, the Christmas lights, and Chris’ many awards and photos.
Most importantly, you’re going to continue to see and feel Chris’ generous, kind and welcoming sprit, along with his same great food, living on thru our AWESOME staff.
ARE YOU AT LEAST ABLE TO TELL US WHEN YOU ALL HOPE TO BE OPEN IN THE BUILDING?
As you’ll see from the story that ran on KSAT (below), we’re told that we should be able to re-open at least the main building by the end of July. YES, that’s of this year.
WILL YOU HAVE A GRAND RE-OPENING PARTY?
We will – likely a fundraiser for a children’s charity. We’re working on plans now, but given the timing of the opening, we’ll probably have it sometime in September after we get used to having solid walls again.
Yes. We continue to be grateful for the encouragement and support of so many of you. We can’t wait to welcome you back home later this summer, but hope that in the meantime you’ll come see us across the street at our air-conditioned food truck/tent setup.