San Antonio for Growth on the Eastside (SAGE) presented awards to eight business owners Thursday night, the fourth year it has recognized area companies and establishments for promoting job creation, economic revitalization, and community partnerships within some of San Antonio’s oldest neighborhoods.

“This year we decided we wanted to open it up to the community so we put out a request on Facebook for people to nominate who they thought should get these awards,” said SAGE CEO Jackie Gorman. “And for the first time we actually had a tie. So that’s why we have two in the emerging business category … It was obviously meant to be.”

District 2 Councilman-elect William “Cruz” Shaw and CEO of VIA Metropolitan Transit Jeffrey Arndt presented the awards. Each business received certificates from SAGE and Texas Sen. José Menéndez (D-26).

A group gathers for the San Antonio for Growth on the Eastside (SAGE) award ceremony.
A group gathers for the San Antonio for Growth on the Eastside (SAGE) award ceremony. Credit: Bonnie Arbittier / San Antonio Report

“Folks sometimes don’t realize there’s more to the Eastside than what they see on the evening news,” Gorman said. “These business leaders we’re recognizing are living it every day — they are the ones who are creating jobs in our community, pay taxes here, and making the Eastside a great place to live, work, and play.”

Winners of the Emerging Business award are Burleson Beer Yard and Estate Coffee. Nestled amid industrial warehouses on the Eastside, between U.S. 281 and the Union Pacific train tracks, Burleson Beer Yard operates in an 1893 building that was once a saloon and restaurant. Within three months of opening, this family-friendly spot became a place where the neighborhood gathers to relax and play.

Estate Coffee is housed in a quaint shop located on East Houston Street and offers a small-batch, craft coffee roaster and espresso bar. Estate Coffee shares the space with Oak & Salt, a specialty spice company, and sources its beans from that company and family-owned importers to create an eclectic beverage. Estate also sells coffee beans and supplies in the store.

Winning Best Business Role Model is Chatman’s Chicken. As owner, Eddie Chatman developed the business motto, “Dedicated to Serve and Help Uplift the Community,” and since opening in 2002, Chatman has been instrumental in improving the landscape of WW White Road. He requires “passing grades” of his employees who are in high school and expects those without a diploma to pursue a GED certificate.

The Best Transformation award was presented to Dignowity Meats. With assistance from the SAGE Store-Front Grant Program, Dignowity Meats transformed the former Ronilo’s Island Grill space into a community staple for smoked meat sandwiches in just over two years. Located in the Dignowity Hill Historic District, Dignowity Meats currently serves lunch but also is expanding into dinner hours. Eastside community leader Brian Dillard accepted the award on the owners’ behalf.

Dognowity Meats.
Dignowity Meats. Credit: Bonnie Arbittier / San Antonio Report

Winner of the Best Community Partner award was St. Philip’s College. As one of the oldest and most diverse community colleges in the nation, St. Philip’s has been a point of pride on the Eastside. It is the only college to be federally designated as both a historically black college and a Hispanic-serving institution. St. Philip’s often partners with the community on neighborhood projects and has worked closely with SAGE staff to provide technical assistance to Eastside small business owners.

Midtown Cocktails Owner Jesse Galloway chats with friends after the San Antonio for Growth on the Eastside (SAGE) award ceremony.
Midtown Cocktails owner Jesse Galloway chats with friends after the San Antonio for Growth on the Eastside (SAGE) award ceremony. Credit: Bonnie Arbittier / San Antonio Report

SAGE presented the Eastside Pioneering Spirit award to Midtown Cocktails. Located at 214 E. Houston St., Midtown Cocktails has been serving cocktails and quick eats to the Eastside community for 40 years. Owner Jesse Galloway employs struggling Eastside residents and regularly provides them with additional financial support.

The Best Kept Secret prize went to LCW Automotive Corp. A leading certified limousine manufacturer, LCW Automotive has been building limousines and custom interiors for over 40 years. In cooperation with companies like GM Cadillac and Ford Lincoln Motor Company, they deliver stretch limousines using original equipment manufacturer standards, cutting-edge technology and high-quality leathers, and custom wood finishing.  

The MEGA Shopping Center won Catalytic Investment award. Formerly the MEGA Warehouse, MIMCO Inc. recently renovated the MEGA Shopping Center, and it now houses the Eastside’s first Goodwill Industries San Antonio facility. MEGA Shopping Center has the capacity for two additional businesses. In 2010, the Eastside community identified the renovation as a catalytic project.

MEGA Shopping Center.
MEGA Shopping Center. Credit: Bonnie Arbittier / San Antonio Report

“There’s a lot of placemaking that’s happening here on the Eastside,” said SA2020 CEO Molly Cox, whose office is on the near Eastside in St. Paul’s Square. “It’s sort of a small-scale version of what SA2020 really is — looking at community safety and entrepreneurship, neighborhood and social connectivity, civic engagement. So the kinds of work happening on the Eastside is a microcosm of the big goals of SA2020.

“It’s really been interesting to see and watch what could potentially be picked up and placed in other neighborhoods in our community.”

SAGE is a nonprofit organization that serves as a growth engine for San Antonio’s Eastside. Through partnerships, alliances, and leveraging resources, the group helps Eastside businesses expand and grow.

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Shari Biediger

Shari Biediger is the development beat reporter for the San Antonio Report.