Southerleigh Fine Food and Brewery

Clayton Korte worked to bring the gritty magnificence of a former brewhouse back to life while adapting it for contemporary needs as Southerleigh Fine Food and Brewery in San Antonio.

  • area / size 7,600 sqft
  • Year 2017
  • Southerleigh Fine Food and Brewery celebrates cross-cultural southern cuisine and craft beer within the former historic Pearl Brewery, an 1890s-era building located in the heart of what is now dubbed the Pearl in San Antonio. Clayton Korte worked to bring the gritty magnificence of the brewhouse back to life while adapting it for contemporary needs.

    The Pearl Brewery had operated as a commercial brewing facility until 2001 after which it was redeveloped as a food, beverage, and cultural destination center within the city. The original 1893 brewhouse had received various additions over the years. In order to preserve as much of the existing building and its patina as possible, new construction was strategically inserted into the structure to work with the existing architecture and spatial configuration. Clayton Korte retained vestiges of the deep history at Pearl through the re-purposing of remnant historic equipment, transforming them into both functional and decorative elements.

    Together with Joel Mozersky Design, the team designed Southerleigh as a 7,600-square-foot restaurant, bar and brewery complex (including 5,000-square foot of combination restaurant and bar and 2,600-square-foot brewery) to reuse brewery equipment and enhance the historic structure.

    The massive, unreinforced load-bearing walls posed a structural challenge for the project requiring careful placement of new openings and steel to accommodate the new floor plan. Existing large masonry openings and original demising walls that separated the large interior volume into smaller work areas were preserved to create three distinct dining rooms, each with their own signature bar. Interior walls and structural elements remain unfinished alongside expansive historic double-hung wood windows, showcasing the buildings hard-won patina.

    Honoring the past, the copper-clad mash tun and boil kettle sit in their original locations, serving as a focal point as patrons enter the main dining space. Production line conveyors were re-used as decorative wall cladding above the centrally located bar, which also includes salvaged bottling line parts to create a unique pendant light fixture. Fifteen-foot-tall original stainless steel kettle tops were re-purposed to provide a centerpiece for the back dining room. Clayton Korte also renovated the 60-foot-tall grain silo into a private dining room, with a custom 15-foot diameter steel light fixture salvaged from the original brewing tanks.

    The new second floor and mezzanine house the brewing operations which act as a dramatic backdrop for the restaurant’s dining rooms below. Lighting design by Bos Lighting showcases the brewing equipment and vaulted ceilings. At the new steel-and-concrete mezzanine, the original historic stairs, were meticulously dismantled, modified and reassembled by Flux Metal.

    Reclaimed white oak floors complement zinc countertops and leather seating. Existing painted brick walls were sealed and new plaster walls were added, showcasing blue and white murals inspired by historic photos and floor plans of the brewery.

    Repurposing and reusing original brewhouse materials provide further evidence of the building’s history while giving new life to old equipment.

    Outdoor seating lets the activity inside flow out into the adjoining graveled terrace that wraps building. A new outdoor oyster and beer bar offers refreshments to strolling crowds. Materials for the pavilion include antique pipe columns and pop-up steel windows, salvaged from Pearl’s own warehouses. The steel windows can be lowered to completely close the bar when not in operation. Pearl’s popular parks and outdoor courtyards surround Southerleigh and add to the energy of the revived building.

    Clayton Korte preserved the historic structure while breathing new life into its shell. Sights, sounds, and most importantly the smells of the Southerleigh Fine Food and Brewery now combine within the venue to create an exhilarating full-sensory experience.

    Design: Clayton Korte
    Photography: Nick Simonite, Chloe Hope Gilstrap