Chef Chuck Hernandez. Photo by Rachel Chaney.
Chef Chuck Hernandez. Photo by Rachel Chaney.

Last weekend the team of O’liva, Plaza de Armas newest restaurant, welcomed the community for their first blessing of the olives ceremony.  Traditionally, a blessing of the olives ceremony celebrates the olive harvest in the fall. In this case however, the ceremony marked the blooming of olive trees in South Texas as Team O’liva’s work comes to fruition (see photo gallery above).

For several years Chef Chuck Hernandez has been gathering a team of passionate friends to respond to the need for fresh, healthy food in the heart of our city.  The term “urban food desert” is a bit of a four letter word in Chuck’s mind. He wants the discussion about food to focus on creating access to good food – not the lack of it. While some see scarcity, Chuck sees untapped resources. While some see anonymous faces milling around downtown, Chuck sees friends already at work and friends he has yet to meet. While some see old or empty buildings, Chuck sees once-vibrant places that need to be awakened. Ruth Bushman, the Director of Creative Development for O’liva is working to create a “sense of life and place making to a historical place that has been in hibernation.” And while some see Chuck himself as an innovator, he is probably more comfortable with the unofficial titles of steward, host, unifier, curator, and fellow human. 

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He and his partners want to create a community gathering place that revolves around food. More specifically, they want to create community through farmers’ markets and through a new restaurant. They host a market called Mercado O’liva next door to the nearly completed restaurant and the historic Spanish Governor’s Palace on the first Saturday of the month. This free market is an opportunity to explore and buy local food; to admire the work of local artisans; and to enjoy live entertainment. 

The O’liva Team also participates in the Mission Marquee Farmers Market at the drive-in movie theater on Roosevelt on the second and fourth Saturdays of the month. Finally, they plan to open their restaurant O’liva this summer. The restaurant under the leadership of Executive Chef Chris Cook will offer gourmet food at an affordable price in a casual and accessible space.

The Team at O’liva wants you to join them for a feast – whether you are visiting San Fernando Cathedral; working at the Frost Bank Building; serving on jury duty at the courthouse; visiting San Antonio for a convention; or commuting home after work. There is a place at the table for everyone.      

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Rachel Chaney

Rachel Chaney is a photographer and native Texan. You can reach her at