It’s easy to remember how old Biga on the Banks is because we started in 2000 – pretty easy math to do even if you’re not an accountant. That we’re this old – and thriving — in an industry that sees players come and go is really satisfying. I suppose that means we’re doing it right. We were smart to relocate the restaurant from our original neighborhood location all those years ago. While it was a little risky, we were able to expand, introduce private dining and capitalize on the growth that was occurring downtown. Today, large conventions keep us very busy, but so does the fact that so many more people are living downtown. San Antonio is a good environment for restaurants, particularly as it seems to be doing well as a city overall.
It’s interesting to consider how we have evolved from our days as Biga at the McCullough location to today as Biga on the Banks on the Riverwalk. In the early days, we really defined the fine dining experience – it was our vision. Now, we are much more reflective of what our customers are looking for. People today are less inclined to come in for a three- or four-course meal; so we’ve adapted by having half-sized portions, for example, which ultimately results in them coming back more often to try new items. They are more inclined to sit alone or in pairs at the bar, so small plates have evolved; and so has the wine and cocktail list that now includes wines by the glass and wines by the ounce.
One thing that hasn’t changed very much, however, is our team: Perny, Jon, Teresa, Martin, to name a few. We have been together for a very long time, and for a business – particularly this kind of business – that’s unusual. I asked them why they’ve stayed. They laughed and said, “It’s fun.” I agree. For a restaurant, we’re a pretty relaxed place, and our team has blended well, so it’s also a comfortable place to work. And at the end of the day, if that’s in line, it’s busy and the pay is okay, well, it’s tough to find a reason to leave.
On reflection, we feel the same way about our relationship with ATKG. We’ve been together a long time, and the people there know us really well. There’s a lot of stuff going on and the laws are always changing, so we can’t afford to keep up with it. But ATKG is always there when we need them. It’s nice to talk to the same person, too; we appreciate that they retain their staff much like we do, as we value long-term relationships. If asked, I couldn’t come up with three adjectives to describe ATKG, but I would say that they’re definitely not stodgy old accountants. And this matters to us as we appreciate their energy, their commitment to customer service and their loyalty because it feels a lot like what we, ourselves, have built with our own company.
— Bruce Auden, Chef/Ownerby