Business owners want more solutions for construction issues

SAN ANTONIO — Growing up in San Antonio, Augustine “Augie” Cortez Jr. was always surrounded by small businesses in the barrio.

“I dreamed of being a business owner when I was a kid back in those days,” Cortez said.

He made that dream a reality in the late ’90s when he opened up Augie’s Alamo City BBQ Steakhouse.

“The essence of everything that we do here, we use one spice for everything. We don’t have a big spice rack or none of that” Cortez said.

He takes pride in making everything fresh, like when someone goes to their tio’s (uncle’s) house on a Sunday to watch the Cowboys play. But Cortez doesn’t feel too confident about his second location surviving the construction that neighbors it.

He walked outside the doors of Brazed, the whiskey bar attached to restaurant, and was welcomed by a bulldozer.

“Whatever that the city’s doing to help make things better, it usually hurts a lot of people while they are doing it,” Cortez said.

He says it’s hindered about 80% of his business, which sits on Broadway, a long road that pierces the heart of downtown San Antonio. As the city’s juggling multiple construction projects all over San Antonio—West Commerce, North St. Mary’s, North New Braunfels—it’s leaving dozens of small businesses to struggle in the process.

“And the city needs to make a change because it’s been the same problem for too many years now,” Cortez said.

The city suggests a $400,000 solution with a pilot mitigation program where $310,000 will be used for marketing and promotion. Cortez shared his frustration with the Small Business Advisory Commission.

“We need more signs to let more people know that we are open. How does that make any sense at all?” Cortez said. “Someone please explain that to me.”

Cortez posed that question to the city because he says signage isn’t the issue. He says there’s literally only one route to take to his restaurant now that Broadway is shut down and an important side street has become a one-way.

“Look, are they trying? Yeah, they are trying to figure out a way to make things work, let’s be fair,” Cortez said.

Many city officials do feel like they’ve let small businesses down and even suggested to have larger grants rather than loans, which would put these businesses into more debt.

During Cortez’ three minutes, he explained how he just wants to make a living.

“We don’t need money from you, we need you to work together with us as a team, so that we can together to help make this work for you and the small businesses,” Cortez said.

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