Warming temperatures and improving news on the pandemic front set a welcoming opportunity for special events these past weeks in our community. And while small businesses continue to recover slowly, and families face the ongoing effects of inflation, it is important to recognize when good comes from neighbors going above and beyond to help their neighbors.


Such was the case when Jody Bailey Newman of The Friendly Spot on S. Alamo Street and Kent Oliver of Dakota Eastside Ice House on Hackberry Street had a conversation in January. The two friends envisioned  celebrating the great icehouse tradition in San Antonio while generating business revenue for these neighborhood “institutions” and supporting a good cause along the way.


Their conversation led to the inaugural SA Icehouse Week, sponsored by the San Antonio Current and BudLight, bringing together 29 icehouses that have long-served as gathering places for friends and families in our city for everything from casual events to weddings. It included several family-owned businesses in the Lavaca, Arsenal, King William, Lone Star and Southtown neighborhoods: La Tuna Icehouse & Grill, Bruno’s Dive Bar, Sanchez Ice House and The Friendly Spot.

The initiative not only aimed to support a segment of the food and beverage industry that has been severely impacted by the pandemic, Jody and Kent included a philanthropic aspect to further elevate the small business community. I am grateful to Jody, Kent, The San Antonio Current and each of the 29 icehouses for selecting LiftFund as the nonprofit recipient of SA Icehouse Week. This endorsement allows LiftFund to continue our mission to support small business owners with access to needed funding and business education, as we have done for 28 years based here in San Antonio and now serving 15 states.


As families and neighbors enjoyed one another’s company over good meals and cold beverages, I was reminded how much stronger we are as a community when we are “in it” together.


This was evident on Sunday afternoon, March 6, when the current owners of Bruno’s unveiled a beautiful mural – “Bruno & Dianne Forever” – by artist Rubio honoring the bar’s founder Bruno Dzanski and his wife Dianne. Over the years I was fortunate enough to frequent what was then known as B&D Icehouse, where Bruno greeted generations of customers by name, just as neighbors who care for one another do.


I am sure you have experienced this kind of warmth and welcoming greeting from small businesses in the neighborhood. I hope that you continue visiting them and supporting them!

Janie Barrera is the founding President and Chief Executive Officer of LiftFund, a nonprofit small business champion.

Where everyone knows your name

Tuesday, March 15, 2022

Here are shots of several ice houses that participated in the inaugural San Antonio Ice House Week.

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