Classic French dining returning to Alamo Heights
The former site of an iconic French restaurant in Alamo Heights, which has sat dormant since 2009, is in the process of being reborn.
The husband-and-wife chef tandem of Damien Watel and Lisa Astorga-Watel are taking over the former L’Etoile space at 6106 Broadway, with plans to name it BISTRO9. The Watels own and operate Bite in Southtown; they closed Chez Vatel Bistro in Olmos Park after a run of 18 years in June 2017.
“There hasn’t been anything new opening in Alamo Heights for quite some time,” Damien Watel said. “This is in the heart of the neighborhood, and we already know there is a core clientele there that can sustain this type of a restaurant.”
Watel said the BISTRO9, which he estimates is about 80 percent complete, will be like a classic French brasserie with three distinctly different dining areas: a full bar in the front that will accommodate a livelier social crowd; a posh, white-tablecloth dining area that will be decorated extensively with art; and a large shaded patio.
“Everybody has a different idea of what the best seat in the house is,” Watel said. “And we want to have options based on what type of mood the customer is looking for.”
Related: Review: The Jerk Shack’s on fire with Jamaican heat
L’Etoile closed in 2009 after being in business for 23 years, and the space has collected dust ever since.
“It was probably in the worst condition of any restaurant space that I’ve taken over,” Watel said. “Absolutely everything is getting redone outside of maybe the bricks that make up the outside walls, and even they will need a heavy washing. We have to trench the whole floor, replace every pipe — new plumbing, new electrical — and when we are finished, it will all have a fresh and modern look.”
Since so much work needs to be done, Watel estimates that BISTRO9 won’t open its doors until at least mid-October. But Alamo Heights and San Antonio area residents can rest assured that the space will return to its French roots.
firstname.lastname@example.org | Twitter: @chuck_blount | Instagram: bbqdiver