Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Earl Abel's Closing

Our Alamo City Correspondent Terri R. informs me that venerable San Antonio landmark Earl Abel's will be demolished soon to make way for a 25-story condominium tower. Known far and wide for its Betty Crocker-approved fried chicken recipe and irresistible pie selection, the architecturally distinctive restaurant is one of those out-of-time places that probably would've been gone years ago in a more frenetic locale.

In 72 years of operation, Earl Abel's served as a meeting point for generations of San Antonio diners. In a celebrated 1986 incident, longtime U.S. Representative Henry B. Gonzalez slugged another diner there for calling him a communist. The city rewarded Gonzalez by putting his name on the convention center.

Mod coffee shop-style restaurants like Earl Abel's remained ubiquitous in Sunbelt cities up through the early 1980s, but rising land prices and dying clientele have whittled the genre onto the endangered list. The corner of Broadway and Hildebrand is too valuable to cede to a restaurant. It's an inevitable transformation, and one that is probably needed in a sprawling city like San Antonio.

But nobody likes saying goodbye to a restaurant they grew up with.

2 comments:

Kim said...

We had an interesting meal there the other day. Look for the full report on the long-neglected Excitement Machine pretty soon. In the meanwhile, some pictures are here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/kmel/sets/1460317/

I wonder if they're going to have an auction to sell off the famous signs (indoor and outdoor), and how much they'll go for. There is so much love for the place I doubt that any part of it would be in my budget.

dave said...

a friend of mine inadvertently left a $100 tip back in 1986 while we were both attending incarnate word.
lucky waitress lady. the chili was lukewarm.

it'd be great if they could swank it up and keep it in the first floor of the new building.