Home Business A look into the explosive downtown business growth in 2016

A look into the explosive downtown business growth in 2016

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Aqua Brew opened to the public March 2016 but is still undergoing construction to add an outdoor bar and stage. Aqua Brew is located off of LBJ and is one of many new additions to the square.
Photo by: Brandon Valencia | Staff Photographer

By Alison Quisenberry

The heart of downtown San Marcos is ever growing with a variety of new businesses that were established in 2016, which has invited community members from all generations to enjoy the features of the area.

Samantha Armbruster, Main Street program manager, says the downtown area gained 25 businesses in the past year. From retail and restaurants to tattoo parlors and art galleries, the array of appearances has diversified the area.

Armbruster says the square contains a healthy business mix that includes a growing daytime economy and successful nighttime economy. The Main Street program expects more retail and professional services to move in in the next year and has high hopes for a better daytime economy.

One of the first businesses to emerge along downtown in March of 2016 was Aquabrew—a family-friendly brewery that serves upscale cuisine and craft beer.

Carlos Russo, owner of Aquabrew, says the establishment’s greatest accomplishment is remaining successful and not closing within their first year. After being named “Downtown Business of the Year” by San Marcos Chamber of Commerce, Carlos says he was not expecting the success they received, but his 2017 plans are full of growth to maintain it.

Aquabrew is currently under construction for additions such as a rooftop bar, beer garden, and concert stage. Carlos says he wants to put Aquabrew on the map as “the live music venue of downtown” and to expect “big names” on the Aquabrew stage once construction is complete.

Along with restaurants, the downtown area is also populated with tattoo shops. Bubba Ward, owner of Bubba’s Family Tattoo, says business was good last year, but he wants to focus on getting his name out in the months approaching.

Bubba opened his shop in 2010 before moving it downtown in 2016. When it opened, Bubba’s mother and brother were also involved in the tattoo business with him, which is what he says gives his parlor the “family” aspect. That, along with the fact that he was also starting a family of his own at the time, led him to open a business with family in mind and to make that an important aspect of the environment.

Dahlia Woods, owner of Dahlia Woods Gallery, gives artists a home for their work. The gallery displays and sells art work produced by artists from all over the state of Texas—seven of them being Texas State students and alumni.

Dahlia’s gallery is also home to Bad Boy Books bookstore and Pinky’s Wine Bar. With these additions, she hopes to have at least three nights of live music a week. Dahlia Woods Gallery also hosts plays, book readings, and private parties.

“After all my years at Texas State and living near the Square, I have never seen more variety in what it has to offer than right now,” said Sarah Rule, fashion merchandising junior.

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