Rick Martinez walks up Cellars at Pearl's private set of stairs that lead to the river walk. Credit: Bonnie Arbittier / San Antonio Report

My wife Lisa and I had our dream home on the North Side of San Antonio, where we lived for about 10 years years and raised our family. It was spacious, quiet, and everything we wanted. But when our three children grew up and moved out, we were ready for a change of scenery and a change of pace.

When we were looking for a new place to call home, we wanted a place with the right energy. We found that energy at the Pearl. It’s hard to describe without using the cliche of the melting pot, but that’s really what it is. People from all walks of life in the same space – one of the few spaces in San Antonio where you actually feel like you’re in a big city. And the Cellars offered us amenities that are hard to beat – concierge, valet parking, a pool overlooking Pearl Park, and private access to the river. For a guy from East L.A. who came from nothing, it’s the kind of life I worked hard to attain.

We live in the same building with folks we now consider family and professional athletes. Cellars hosts monthly events for residents where we can mingle and get to know each other better. My favorite was our recent Christmas party when Doc Watkins gave the residents a private show.

The first question people usually ask when they meet you is, “What do you do?” So when I tell them that I’m a recognized cannabis leader, that always makes for a great conversation starter. Health care professional-turned-cannabis entrepreneur is always a shocker for people, but has led into some of the most awesome conversations with my neighbors.

Now that we’ve lived here almost three years, we’ve made friends and found our favorite spots. You’ll often find me sitting under one of the blue umbrellas at Pearl Park. I love to work out there because of the energy. My wife and I can usually be found at Botika – Chef Geronimo and his crew are so cool, and the food is some of the best I’ve had – or Sternewirth at Hotel Emma because it’s such a great place to people-watch. You’ll see people from all over the world from your seat on the patio.

While the Pearl sees so many people come and go, there are still some spots that are hidden in plain sight. Right across the river from our building there’s this covering that reminds me of a micro-amphitheater. There are a few benches and, throughout the day, you’ll see people reading or writing. It’s a beautiful place because if you were to walk by, you’d just think it’s a place to sit on a bench. But I’ve watched people do photo shoots with their pets, I’ve watched people say “I do” and pledge their lives together.

Rick Martinez loves watching meaningful events, such as weddings and quinceañeras, happen at the space across from Cellars at Pearl.

We didn’t get many visitors when we lived up north because it was so far out, but now, every weekend we’ll get a text saying, “Hey, we’re at the Bottling Department,” or, “Hey, we’re in the lobby.” I have become more social because this is where people want to be. When we have visitors from out of town, we don’t have to drive them around. Everything we want is right here. There’s even a certain radius here where you can have an open container, so you can have a few drinks, walk around, and never have to get behind the wheel. And if we want to go downtown, we can hop on a river barge. 

All the energy and activity also has its pitfalls. The energy is always there. Even though you can come into your apartment and close your blinds, it’s not the same as what we used to have in our home. And I don’t just mean what you see and hear, but the vibe. You can still feel the vibe. People see the Pearl in the daytime or during happy hour, but at night the cleaning crews come in, and seasonal decor is installed in the middle of the night or early morning. There’s always something going on.

Rick Martinez stands in front of Cellars at Pearl.

But I’m a young 50-year-old, and my wife and I still like to go out, so I’d like to see more nightlife in the area. I don’t mean like a dance club for 21-year-olds, but something more like a sports bar where you can just put on your shorts and your chanclas and go have some beers and watch the game. That doesn’t exist here yet.

There’s a great quality about every part of San Antonio, but as a resident, I would say that everyone should experience the Pearl at least once. The vibrancy, the energy here can’t be matched, and it was created from nothing. This was a demolition area several years ago, and it’s become one of the most beautiful places our city has to offer. 

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Rick Martinez

Registered nurse-turned-award-winning entrepreneur Rick Martinez now leads the fastest-growing cannabis podcast, "Weed To Know Basis," right here in the heart of San Antonio.