Chris Madrid's original building as seen in 1981.
Chris Madrid's original building as seen in 1981. Credit: Courtesy / Madrid Family

The Beacon Hill Area Neighborhood Association has withdrawn a request for landmark designation after reaching a mutual agreement with the owner of Chris Madrid’s regarding the fate of the restaurant and a nearby vacant house.

The City’s Historic and Design Review Commission on Wednesday was scheduled to address the neighborhood association’s request, but Richard Peacock, owner of the iconic restaurant at 1900 Blanco Rd., and association members confirmed to the Rivard Report they had settled the matter.

In response to Peacock’s application for a permit to demolish the 1929 Tudor Revival-style home at 831 W. Hollywood Ave., the neighborhood association in July had asked the City for a review of historic significance of that house and Chris Madrid’s, which is housed in a former gas station built in 1931.

Follow-up discussions between Peacock and the neighborhood association led both parties to agree to sign a declaration of restrictive covenants and conditions for 831 W. Hollywood Ave. and a second house at 827 W. Hollywood Ave.

The house at 831 W. Hollywood Ave. would be preserved and relocated – not razed as originally envisioned by the restaurant property owner, who plans to use its plot to expand the burger joint to include an events venue. The house at 827 W. Hollywood Ave. would be renovated and used as office space for restaurant operations. The latter property will have to be rezoned to accommodate the planned reuse.

“Avoiding demolition has always been a shared desired on both of our parts,” Peacock said. “In fact, we initially intended to donate the 831 [Hollywood Ave.] house to a local charity, but the original entity wasn’t able to use it.

“However, we have now found a family who has a great use for it, and so toward that end we have agreed to help defray a small portion of the cost of its removal/restoration.”

Meanwhile, repairs and improvements continue on the near-Northside restaurant that was severely damaged by a fire one year ago this month.

Although the Chris Madrid’s building has been added on to many times over its lifetime, the original structure has evolved along with Beacon Hill’s growth. Chris Madrid, the namesake original owner, bought the building in 1977 and turned it into a burger and taco restaurant.

When Madrid died in March 2012, his family took over ownership and operations, but eventually sold the restaurant to Peacock by late August 2017.

Chris Madrid's owner Richard Peacock (left) and outgoing Director of Operations Bryce Waller stand at Jimmy's Bar inside the iconic burger joint.
New Chris Madrid’s owner Richard Peacock (left) and outgoing Director of Operations Bryce Waller stand at Jimmy’s Bar inside the iconic burger joint. Credit: Iris Dimmick / San Antonio Report

Neighborhood association President Lola Rodriguez praised Peacock and his associates for their proactivity. She also expressed gratitude for neighborhood residents who worked to arrive at a resolution and City Councilman Roberto Treviño’s (D1) office for mediating the talks.

“[Chris Madrid’s owners] want to partner with the community,” Rodriguez told the Rivard Report. “They told us, ‘I want to hear your concerns.’”

Chris Madrid’s will build a new private events structure at 831 W. Hollywood Ave, which Peacock said could be used for birthday parties, wedding showers, and business meetings.

“We are really excited that this new building will allow us to have these types of events,” he said. “In fact, I’m really hopeful that the [neighborhood association] will want to hold its monthly meetings in this space.”

Customers dine on family-style picnic benches at Chris Madrid's.
Customers dine on family-style picnic benches at Chris Madrid’s in September 2017. Credit: Iris Dimmick / San Antonio Report

Talks with neighbors also led the restaurant owner to incorporate design elements to reduce noise and light coming from the restaurant, such as an insulated, two-sided wooden fence, tall hedges, and limited outdoor speakers.

Rodriguez said she and neighbors are happy that Peacock already has an idea for decreasing noise. The neighborhood association would also work with Peacock if parking issues arise when the restaurant reopens and the new events venue is completed.

“Parking is always an issue, not just in the neighborhood but around the city,” Rodriguez added. “We’ll work that out.”

Late in 2017, Chris Madrid’s launched post-fire service from a food truck. Diners have since been gathering underneath a large tent to enjoy the restaurant’s famed burgers, among other food items.

The Chris Madrid's food truck will be opening soon as the restaurant continues to rebuild after a fire in October.
The Chris Madrid’s food truck. Credit: Scott Ball / San Antonio Report

Asked when Chris Madrid’s will reopen, Peacock said it won’t be anytime soon.

“Unfortunately, given the age and nature of the buildings, we don’t yet have a feel for when we’ll have the renovations finished,” he said.

“We keep uncovering new construction issues and challenges, which force us to stop and reevaluate how to proceed. Hopefully we’ll get past the surprises stage soon, which should allow us to make steady progress and set a reopening date.”

Treviño said he’s excited about Chris Madrid’s future plans and by Peacock and the neighborhood association’s willingness to resolve differences.

“It’s another classic example on how we can resolve matters in a way that benefits both sides,” he said, adding that the restaurant will have a “refocused energy and … a sustainable plan for the long run.”

Edmond Ortiz, a lifelong San Antonian, is a freelance reporter/editor who has worked with the San Antonio Express-News and Prime Time Newspapers.