Community festival celebrates San Marcos talent, involvement

The San Marcos community came together to celebrate local businesses and artists at the Wine and Art Weekend.

The three-day arts and entertainment festival kicked off April 10 and concluded April 12 with a jazz brunch.

Mackenzie Falcon, recreational administration senior, said the main focus of the Wine and Art Weekend is promoting economic growth throughout the community.

“The objective of the Wine and Art Weekend is to enhance the businesses downtown, to bring foot traffic and really to boost the local business here,” Falcon said.

Local organizations band together to fight poverty with hunger walk


The San Marcos Food Bank hosted the Hays County Community Response to Overcome Poverty (C.R.O.P.) Hunger Walk April 12 to raise awareness of and funding to fight world hunger.

Mallory Raschke, event and social media coordinator, said event sponsor Church World Service (CWS) holds similar events all over the nation.

“It’s a global walk for a global cause,” Raschke said.

The scoop on Rhea’s Ice Cream


Summer is approaching, and few things provide more relief from the heat than ice cream.

Rhea Ortamond created Rhea’s Ice Cream in 2010.

Ortamond said she always enjoyed making ice cream, and the opportunity to turn it into a career began when she acquired extra space to live. She turned her small area into a shop in order to ease rent concerns.

She said her mother taught her to create unique flavors.

“I am always experimenting,” Ortamond said. “It’s cool to see people appreciate what you’re making.”

 She creates the majority of her own recipes, flavors and hand-made waffle cones.

Tom and Summer Hoff, visitors from Austin, said they were delighted by the strong variety of flavors.

Wake the Dead Coffee House vibe appeals to wide audience

Wake the Dead Coffee House provides more than coffee to the community.

Julie Balkman, current owner and founder of Wake the Dead, said what started out as an idea has since developed into one of the most popular and sought-out coffee shops in the San Marcos area. She said opening the shop was a slow and daunting undertaking.

“Blood, sweat and tears were definitely involved with the initial creation, remodeling and landscaping, but everything worked out in the end,” Balkman said.

The city’s rules and regulations were difficult and expensive to maneuver when opening the store.

“The process of creating Wake the Dead, as a reality, was difficult,” Balkman said. “It took about a year just to get through to the city.”

Longtime barbecue cook turns businessman


AJ’s Ranch Road Grill is cooking up a name for itself with lunchtime and late-night favorites like Texas Tots and the Texas Philly, a southern take on the classic cheesesteak.

Andrew Napoles, owner and Texas State alumnus, said the idea of opening a restaurant came to him after graduation when he was struggling to find work.

“There wasn’t a lot of options in this area, and I had a hard time looking for a job,” Napoles said. “I always joked that I was going to open up a restaurant.”

The eatery, which is located a five-minute walk from campus, serves traditional barbeque staples like brisket, ribs and pulled pork as well as Tex-Mex favorites like fajitas, tacos and quesadillas.

San Marcos offers variety of pizza


Pizza is a popular go-to meal in university communities, and Texas State is no exception.

Traditional delivery places such as Domino’s, Pizza Hut, Little Caesars and Papa John’s are options. However, San Marcos features local hot spots like Valentino’s, Gumby’s and Pie Society for the pizza aficionado.  

Pie Society, located on North LBJ Drive, is owned by the Katz Brothers, local entrepreneurs.

“We try to pride ourselves on local and fresh ingredients,” said Patrick Vernor, Pie Society manager. “For example, our mushrooms are from Gonzales, our goat cheese is from here in Texas (and) our honey is from Austin. Everything is very fresh and local.”

Pie Society does not have a freezer, so everything has to be made fresh in house.

Unique San Marcos sandwich shop gains national recognition


Alvin Ord’s has been the go-to sandwich shop for students and San Marcos residents for over 30 years and has now received national attention for it.

The sandwich shop was ranked as 15th in the nation by the BuzzFeed Community in a Feb. 2 article, “21 Sandwich Shops In America To Eat At Before You Die.”

Olivia Trevino, store manager, said one of the eatery’s biggest appeals is the homemade artisan bread, which is baked daily, as well as the fresh produce and premium meats.

“We bake our own bread every morning, and then they are toasted,” Trevino said. “Our ingredients are very fresh, and we don’t have many preservatives in our food.”

Torchy’s Tacos comes to San Marcos

Torchy’s Tacos has officially come to San Marcos.

What began as a small food trailer in Austin is now a bustling chain with 30 locations throughout Texas. The restaurant, which opens Feb. 17, takes the former place of the United States Postal Office on Guadalupe Street.

“This location is a little bit different because it is taking over a historical building, which I think is a really cool opportunity for us because it provides a very interesting and unique entrance into the community,” said Brittany Platt, director of marketing.

Oh My Pizza Pie offers unique flavor varieties

Jake Wright was always on the move when he first started Oh My Pizza Pie in 2012. Now he is easy to find.

Wright started his first food truck in Austin and has used it to travel to festivals across the state for the past three years. His location at The Hitch, which opened in December, is Wright’s second trailer. Both trucks include brick ovens crafted by Wright.

“I would build the oven during the weekend, and then during the week I was attending my classes at the University of Texas at Austin,” Wright said. “I built the first one over the course of two months, and the oven for the trailer at The Hitch, which is a slightly different style oven, took me about five weeks.”

San Marcos Farmer's Market creates community relationships

Students and San Marcos residents gather every Tuesday and Saturday to stock up on fresh produce at the local farmer’s market in The Square.

The market runs on Tuesdays from 3-6 p.m. and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Vendors include farmers, producers, gardeners, craftsmen and other community organizations.

Ellie Gillis, River Bottom Farms salesperson, said customers must have an environment where they can create personal relationships with vendors and their neighbors while they shop.

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