Wonder what'll happen to the car?
I say this without irony or hyperbolic tone: It is a sad day for lovers of esoteric food. The Monterey
(1127 S. St. Mary's St., 210-745-2581) is closing its doors this November on its fifth anniversary.
The restaurant's closing is rational when it comes down to it. Co-owner Chad Carey, who fashioned the gastropub as a fun clubhouse where he and his staff could push culinary boundaries by being "destructively creative" says he mulled over the decision since last October.
"I consulted with everyone on our team because I didn't want to make this decision on my own," Carey said. "Fundamentally, it'd be easier if we had to close it, if it wasn't making money and we needed to, but we're electing to close it, which makes this harder."
The eatery, which helped garner attention for San Antonio as a whole with its small plates, big flavors and excellent patio, is essentially "taking itself off the menu," as Carey puts it.
Time seems to be the biggest culprit in The Monterey's closing. As The Empty Stomach group began opening more eateries with Barbaro joining the line up in September 2013, and Hot Joy in 2014 along with Bakery Lorraine's move in October, it was difficult for Carey to maintain The Monterey at the level he'd set out for it without devoting a ton of time to the restaurant.
"There was more of me required at The Monterey," Carey said. The restaurant turned the transactional restaurant experience into more of a hang where you could eat offal, drink weird wines and great beers. But that's a time-consuming process, especially now as he and his Empty Stomach partners work on opening new businesses and running them as businesses and not clubhouses. "When we first opened, I really didn't think people would give a shit."
Yet people far and wide did. The Monty has served as incubator for other businesses and Empty Stomach; they hosted seminars for service industry staff; and held three different weddings (Carey officiated one of these). Was The Monterey part-"ego trip" and part-performance art? Yes, but also a playground for chefs, food lovers and winos alike looking for a different experience altogether.
For now, Carey will focus on opening up a few projects along St. Mary's and there was talk about an agave-centric joint in downtown. "This is Chad growing up."
Though details aren't set in stone for The Monty's good-bye just yet, several ideas have been tossed around, such as bringing in cooks who are now working across the country that spent time in the tiny kitchen. We'll share details as they're released.