Knosh Rides Again at the Former Sealy Flats Cafe
SAN ANGELO, TX — In December 2013, Rod Bridgman retired from the music business here. His dream business, Sealy Flats, had changed downtown San Angelo. He wasn’t getting filthy rich, but he felt satisfied his work was done.
Sealy Flats is two buildings at 204 and 208 S. Oakes St. There is a large antebellum bed and breakfast built in 1909, and next door on the B&B’s south side, in a smaller commercial and historic storefront, is what Bridgman referred to as the “café.”
And the café was where all the action was before Bridgman sold it.
What to do with the “Café,” the location of Bridgeman’s original live music venue for the blues that was instrumental in transforming San Angelo into a trendy live music center, has been the puzzle San Angelo entrepreneurs have not been able to solve.
The problems with the café were present even when Bridgman ran the place. The kitchen area and the indoor dining area were too small. The primary complaint of the original Sealy Flats was poor kitchen service. It took forever for your food to arrive after ordering it. But it was a blues bar. You’d expect bad service; it was part of the ambiance.
Kevin Collins, the Bentwood Country Club proprietor, who formed a small partnership that leased the Sealy Flats café in 2014, enunciated the real problem. Collin’s venture came right after a short-lived partnership between Randy Coleman and Bridgman broke up.
Almost all of the seating is outside, Collins told me. Outside seating doesn’t work when it’s sweltering hot during the summers and too cold in the winter.
And the kitchen area? Collins shook his head.
A musician, Collins was attempting to keep Bridgman’s “café” alive, live music and all. In the end, Collins said, the venture did not earn enough money to justify the risk.
John Young moved his tasty Peepsie’s Barbecue joint into the café next. Young is an experienced restaurateur with a corporate career prior to moving to San Angelo. He had operated a fast food franchise here, then Rio Concho Catering and founded The Concho Pearl Ice House. Young re-arranged the kitchen area.
Young worked hard at making Peepsie’s work in Bridgman’s old café but in the end, Young said, the numbers weren’t there. He closed down Peepsie’s, and soon thereafter his other restaurant, the Concho Pearl Ice House, 1605 S. Chadbourne St., closed for remodeling. The Ice House re-opens Feb. 1.
Peepsie’s exit left the café empty again until the next entrepreneurs stepped up to bat about a year ago.
By then, it appeared that the old café building needed a miracle.
The café’s latest incarnation was being the location for the trendy restaurant with a hip name called Knosh. It was a moderately priced lunch and dinner sit-down restaurant. The concept was conceived by experienced San Angelo restaurateurs Derrick and Jeanna Hoffman who found success since a decade earlier, when the couple transformed the former Scores Sports Bar into a popular and high revenue-grossing bar and restaurant called Shenanigan’s at Sherwood Way and Arden Rd.
The couple had the ideas, money, experience and credibility to pull off a downtown miracle. They repainted, updated the interior, and created a trendy menu. But it took a year for them to discover that the traffic “just isn’t quite there,” Derrick explained.
They announced the closure of Knosh last month, not even a year into the venture. The old café seemed destined to be empty again, this time perhaps for a very long time.
Fondness for the downtown tradition that once was Sealy Flats had lured Randy Coleman, Kevin Collins, John Young and now the Hoffman’s into making a go at it and no one could. Derrick said he also struggled with the outsized outside dining area. It was too hard to turn enough inside tables to make enough money to justify the risk; you needed the volume of the outdoor seating, Derrick said. But most patrons prefer indoor dining.
According to Derrick, the owners of the building, aptly named One Leg to Stand On, LLC, headed by the operators of House of FiFi Dubois located one block over on Chadbourne, in addition to owning the the B&B next door, presented a deal to the Hoffmans. The B&B patrons needed a food attraction next door. The property owners also couldn’t afford another long period of tenantless vacancy at the café.
Come back, we’ll make you the best deal ever, they said.
Derrick said the reprieve on the rent gives him a lower expense structure and opportunity to experiment with a modified concept. The plan is to double down on maintaining then growing a lunch crowd on weekdays, then promote catering that offers the option of using the trendy former Sealy Flats café for private events and parties on weekends. It will still be called Knosh.
The centerpieces of the new lunch menu are 12 combination lunches for just $8.99. And that includes tea. In addition, Knosh will offer a full selection of sandwiches and larger entrees, like their popular Sirloin Bits.
The restaurant will be open for lunch weekdays 11-2 p.m. starting Jan. 22, 2019. You can call and get catering or venue options at (325) 374-2031.
Knosh is slang for “eating” or “food.” For example, “Did you eat yet? I need to go get something to knosh on.” Or, “Let’s go get some knosh.”
Here's the new lunch menu: