In the early morning hours of Halloween one year ago, a fire broke out at Brigid, a restaurant in Southtown, and the adjoining bar, Francis Bogside, both owned by Steve Mahoney. On Tuesday, Bogside reopened with the staff wearing San Antonio Fire Department T-shirts.
“They were awesome,” Mahoney said of the fire department. “To walk up in the morning and see your place after a fire … The firemen did a great job and they did things to avoid ruining more of the place, which was pretty cool. I don’t know what station it was – it was kind of a blur – I just remember those guys were awesome.”
Although Brigid is not returning, Mahoney said Bogside is now bigger and better, and the short list of items on Bogside’s menu will feature burgers and pizza, former Brigid customer favorites.
Opened in 2015, Bogside is an Irish-style pub on South St. Mary’s Street that rejoins a slate of Mahoney’s other popular food and cocktail bars around town, including Blue Box Bar at the Pearl, George’s Keep at the Éilan, and Hanzo in Alamo Heights.
A native of Minnesota, 43-year-old Mahoney first came to San Antonio more than 20 years ago while working in construction with his father. He liked it so much, he put down roots by investing in small business here five years later.
His first neighborhood bar was the Green Lantern in the Stone Oak area. That bar opened in 2009 and Mahoney sold it four years ago. He opened Blue Box Bar in 2012.
“I could tell it was up and coming. I could see the buzz around it. So I just asked,” Mahoney said. “The people at the Pearl are great. They take a big interest in wanting you to succeed. Anyone who is at the Pearl is very fortunate to be there. They bring people to you.”
Two years after Blue Box opened, Mahoney debuted George’s Keep near La Cantera Parkway on San Antonio’s far Northwest side. “That’s another great development to be in,” he said. “It’s a very bustling area, and my staff has done an incredible job building the business.”
Mahoney serves as the general contractor on all his projects. “I started running job sites at 21 and I was good at it,” he said. “I was good at getting people to get things done and that carried over to the bar business. I love this business.”
Business partner Robert Darilek, a tax accountant, handles all the bookkeeping, accounting, and employee benefit planning.
As for the cocktails, Mahoney and Darilek leave that to the bartenders and bar managers. Mahoney said he doesn’t care to drink cocktails anymore, but he appreciates what the cocktail trend has done for his business.
“I realized it with the Green Lantern,” he said. “When that opened in 2009, it was before all the cocktail stuff was hitting here. I didn’t even know that stuff was going on. I just thought it would be cool to have a bar where you make old-school drinks and stuff like that. So we did that, and what I realized really quick was the cocktails were cool and people thought they were fun. But people still just really want to have a place to go where they can have a good time.”
And yet the cocktail craze, he said, showed people a better way.
“It upped the bar for everybody,” Mahoney said. “But at the end of the day, the place has to be one where people have fun when they go.”
What Mahoney enjoys most about his establishments is the people with whom he works. “They take their job seriously and we take them seriously,” he said. The staff at his bars receive full benefits and have the opportunity to turn the job into a professional career.
Fire department officials said it was likely an oven left on overnight that caused the fire that destroyed Brigid and badly damaged Francis Bogside. The building was empty at the time of the fire and there were no injuries, but the kitchen was gone, and Bogside suffered water and smoke damage.
“We weren’t even able to start rebuilding for at least six months,” Mahoney said. “So it being dragged out and shut down for a year, that sucks.”
The building is owned by the Ojeda Law Office, which occupies the south end of the structure.
When the fire occurred, Mahoney was in the process of building his Japanese-style gastropub, Hanzo, on Broadway Street. Hanzo opened in May. Like his other bars, Hanzo regulars are the people who live in the neighborhood.