CIBOLO — “Old Town Cibolo” is undergoing explosive growth with dozens of new businesses popping up along a stretch of Main Street where only a handful existed the last 15 to 20 years.
Both merchants who grew up in the Cibolo area and the newest transplants agree the Main Street corridor — dubbed “Old Town Cibolo” by locals — is undergoing a mercantile renewal with 40-plus businesses and event venues.
“I have full confidence in the area,” said Schertz native Nick Marquez, who opened Old Main Ice House in 2015.
Marquez, Christine Bowden and her sister Cassandra Kearns, Lis and Jayme Mathis, Donnovan Jackson and fellow business owners have worked together and with the city to help spark a Main Street-area revival.
Locally owned and operated ventures such as Catalano’s Pizzeria (102 N. Main), Harmon’s Barbecue (100 S. Main), Alex Hartman State Farm Insurance (302 N. Main) and Wise Choice Jewelers (104 S. Main) have long operated in concert with city offices, and longtime social gathering spots and event venues such as Cibolo Bowling Club (519 N. Main) and Cibolo Grange Hall 1541 (413 N. Main).
Emily’s Place owners Tony and Tonya Catalano said over the years they’ve enjoyed offering a family-friendly hub.
But even as their business ventures grew, by the mid-2010s development on Main Street started to pick up after the city adopted a downtown revitalization plan.
That initiative helps convert vacant homes and businesses to accommodate assorted retail, office and civic uses.
Economic-development incentives and other tools have helped boost business growth on Main Street and elsewhere in a city with a population now exceeding 31,000.
Featuring two full bars, and a 10,000-square-foot backyard area for live music and food trucks, Old Main at 110 N. Main has catalyzed downtown Cibolo’s nightlife.
Marquez said he sought to create a welcoming, relaxing place for everyone.
“It’s a large venue, but it still is local,” Marquez added.
Bowden and Kearns, two Cibolo natives with longtime local familial ties, opened Shops at the Mill at 200 N. Main.
The remodeled former lumber supply store now includes The Mill Boutique, an artisan gift shop; Scoop at the Mill, an ice cream parlor; and Picasso’s Cellar, an art studio with space for yoga sessions.
Some Main Street business owners said other people doubted their odds of succeeding in Old Town Cibolo.
“We grew up with the potential and see that it outweighs the risks,” Bowden said.
Kearns also opened The Rooted Fork restaurant (201 N. Main) with Lis Mathis, who with husband Jayme established Kindling Texas Kitchen (209 N. Main), and 1908 House of Wine and Ale (207 N. Main). The latter boasts an event venue.
A native Californian, Lis Mathis said Main Street’s collaborative spirit is alluring to entrepreneurs.
“The camaraderie we have here is very attractive for new business owners to come in, because the more we have down here, the more that people will want to come,” she added.
Her sentiments are shared by Jayme Mathis, who chairs the Old Town Business Association, which promotes, enhances and preserves the Main Street neighborhood.
“Weekly, I have conversations with new guests to Cibolo inquiring as to what more we need,” Mathis said. Jackson, an Army veteran, got involved with Cibolo commerce immediately upon his arrival, joining the Economic Development Corp. and serving as board president.
He said then-EDC Director Mark Luft, improvement grants, opening parking lots, and upgrading pedestrian mobility spurred Main Street’s reawakening.
“It was a shot of adrenaline that we needed,” Jackson added.
Jackson is involved with multiple ventures at South Main and Loop 539, including Noble Group Realty, the Noble Lounge event center, Purple Leef CBD Shop, and the neighborhood’s newest restaurant, Mama Mill’s Jamaican Kitchen, named after his late grandmother.
Jackson said the variety of businesses could make downtown Cibolo a destination for many people.
Ernie’s Patio Bar recently opened at 200 Pfeil Road. Sherri Schlather and her son, Austin, turned their family’s former feed store into a bar with indoor and outdoor seating, and space for live music and food trucks.
The Schlather family has spent years rehabilitating the store and making the surrounding property available to retailers such as the forthcoming Absi-lutely Creative Dee-signs & Boutique.
Now emerging from a pandemic, many of Main Street corridor merchants are thriving and say their enterprises help them to also maintain a larger perspective.
“We do this for our community, our history, something of a legacy to leave behind,” Kearns said.