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New gastropub on the square prioritizes local charities

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File photo of AquaBrew

San Martians can drink beer and eat craft food while supporting local charities this month at Aquabrew, the newly opened gastropub downtown.

Aquabrew is hosting events for charities and organizations based in San Marcos and surrounding areas until its grand opening—the date of which is still to be determined.

Owner Carlos Russo said the atmosphere he hopes to instate at Aquabrew inspired him to conduct these charity events. Russo is covering the costs out of pocket so all proceeds can go directly to the charities.

“Part of our goal was always to build community,” Russo said. “We wanted to take our organization, as a whole, and make friends in the community, and just let everyone in San Marcos know that we’re here for them.”

School Fuel, Hays-Caldwell Women’s Shelter and the San Marcos River Foundation have been featured in the money-raising event.

Shelby Hebert, School Fuel volunteer coordinator, said the Aquabrew event was a success, and she is thankful a business would feature local charities to promote awareness. School Fuel packs and provides sack meals for students who may not have food over the weekend. The cost is approximately $215 per student for the year.

“We haven’t heard the final total from Aquabrew,” Hebert said. “But, (with) donations alone we raised $500, and on top of that they are donating all of the profits from the event itself. Yeah, it’s really awesome what they’re doing.”

Aquabrew was built from the ground up. It features a restaurant floor and a top deck which will soon include another bar and televisions. The business is in the process of building a beer garden behind the building which will have a bar, seating areas and greenery.

The long tables in the restaurant were put there with the intent of motivating visitors to sit with strangers and get to know people within the San Marcos community, Russo said.

Alex Robertson, floor manager, said Aquabrew is going to stand out in San Marcos because of the overall concept and atmosphere they have implemented. The staff wants Aquabrew to be a relaxing, dog-friendly and community-based environment.

“Our mission is what we are driven by,” Robertson said. “We want to raise the bar for hospitality, and produce a holistic experience for the customer by utilizing all five of their senses. We see ourselves as stepping up the game here in San Marcos.”

Robertson said Aquabrew staff is prioritizing recycling and protecting the environment by creatively avoiding waste. The kitchen walls are made entirely of dry erase board material to avoid having to use excess paper. Aquabrew also uses compostable cups to serve their drinks.

“One way we’ll be recycling is by using paper menus,” Robertson said. “And when they get too dirty to use, we will cut them into squares to use as coasters. We’re constantly trying to figure out ways to not be wasteful.”

Aquabrew will soon offer homebrewed craft beers and will feature a “made-from-scratch” food menu.

Chandler Melia, executive chef, said he is constantly creating menu items and coming up with new ideas that are featured during charity events.

“I describe it as modern American food,” Melia said. “We’re a gastropub, so we’re focusing on craft food all made from scratch. Everything is scratch, except for the ketchup.”

Melia said Aquabrew staff plans to make its own ketchup, but he knows everyone wants to have the classic Heinz ketchup bottle on the table.

Russo said once the grand opening happens and Aquabrew is in full force, the charity events will not end.

“The friends that we are making now are friends for the long term,” Russo said. “These aren’t friends we’re meeting in Paris and will never see again. This is our community, and we want to build long-lasting relationships with everyone in San Marcos.”