The NEC’s location makes it great place to live and work, but it’s the people who make it a neighborhood. “Meet Your Neighbor” spotlights local businesses and the men and women behind the counter who make them unique. If you would like to have your business profiled here, please contact Heather Yost at Heather.Yost@sanantonio.gov.
DeWese’s Tip Top Café
DeWese’s Tip Top Café has been a classic in San Antonio since 1938. They are known for their homestyle cooking, just like grandma made, with a menu including Texas-sized Chicken Fried Steaks, award-winning golden Onion Rings, and made-from-scratch daily icebox pies. Third generation owner Linda DeWese has been keeping the tradition alive since her grandparents Winny and Pappy DeWese started the restaurant 77 years ago.
What was the inspiration for your business name? We are in the business of serving up home-style, comfort food, just like grandma made, while providing TIP TOP service to everyone that walks through our doors.
How did you become involved with your business? What motivated you to start your business? “I am a third generation owner, who grew up in the business. Very little has changed since my grandparents Winnie and Pappy DeWese started the restaurant in 1938 and I would not have it any other way. I guess you can say that the family atmosphere and home style cookin’ here at Tip Top Café runs in my blood,” says Linda DeWese.
What are you best known for and why? What makes your business unique? We’ve set the table for mayors and mechanics and we’re proud to say everyone feels at home at Tip Top Café. The Tip Top Café has even been featured on the Guy Fieri program “Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives” on the Food Network. We still have the knotty pine walls, the diner style counter seats, and we don’t start cooking your food until you order it.
What about your business makes you most proud? I am especially proud of hosting fundraisers for charitable causes, and serving lunch for the last 13 years to our firefighters on 9/11 at our adopted Fire Station 19 (Vance Jackson). This year Fire Station 40 (O’Connor Road in District 10) will join the tradition on Oct. 9 when Tip Top Café will deliver a hot lunch in observance of National Fire Prevention Day. FS40 is only 6/10th of a mile from second Tip Top Café location, and one whole shift showed up and ate together at the restaurant’s grand opening July 15, 2015. A portion of the day’s proceeds from July 15 went to Family Service Association. Tip Top also has another long tradition of community involvement at their original location by partnering with the Youth Against Gang Activity (YAGA) initiative, and serving meals to those in assisted living near the original restaurant.
What do you like the best about the neighborhood/being located in the NEC? “We are nestled in a great community with a larger facility to better serve our guests and even have a private banquet room that seats fifty,” says DeWese, who jokes she likes to boast the new place can brag about indoor plumbing.
Complete the following: “When a customer walks into our business they can expect…” Delicious, made to order, served hot, home style cooked meal, served with a heaping helping of Texas-sized hospitality. And remember to order your pie with your meal. Don’t wait because our pies fly off the shelf.
DeWese’s Tip Top Café. 13835 Nacogdoches Rd, San Antonio, TX 78217. http://www.tiptopcafe.com/ (210) 277-7346
Oakleaf Florist has been a mainstay florist shop in the NEC since 1992. Debby Gonzales, a driven businesswoman, left her career as a computer programmer to be her own boss. For 23 years she has been providing all floral needs for the area—from prom corsages to Valentine’s Day roses, Debby has you covered.
How did you start your floral business after being in such a completely different field? My career in the floral industry began by always wanting to be my own boss. I saw an ad in the paper with two different businesses for sale. It was between owning a car wash or a flower shop. I love decorating for the holidays and special events, so a flower shop it was. All the doors kept opening, nothing closing. Now, here we are, many years later and I have established a thriving flower shop with long standing customers receiving constant referrals for the amazing work and customer service that we provide.
What about your business makes you most proud? I love that our products bring a smile to our customer’s faces. If they are sad our flowers and plants ease their pain and warm their heart. When they are celebrating a date or getting flowers just because they are being told how special they are. We are very proud to share in that.
What do you like best about being located in the NEC? We enjoy being located in an established community, and being in a central location for our customers.
What can a customer expect when they walk into your business? To be greeted with a warm smile and a warm hello. We actively work with our clients as to what they are looking for. Whether it is a small token of love or new beginnings that are being sent, we work hand in hand with you to make it extra special.
What keeps customers coming back? Our attention to detail and the quality of our flowers.
Can you tell us a fun fact or something unusual that we wouldn’t know about your industry that an outsider wouldn’t know? Each flower has a name. A rose is not just a rose. They have names like Freedom, Cherry Love, Charlene, Sexy Red, Black Magic, Charlotte Classy, the list goes on and on! Also, the more fragrance a flower has means a shorter vase life. The more petals a flower has means a longer vase life.
Oakleaf Florist, 4185 Naco Perrin Blvd, San Antonio, TX 78217, (210) 653-8180. http://www.oakleafflorist.com/
All Seeing Optical
“All Seeing Optical” is a fitting name for Nicole Thompson’s optical dispensary located at 4719 Camino Dorado Dr. because it seems like she has seen and done a little of everything! Born in Germany, she “sold everything from shoes to forklifts” before becoming an optician twenty years ago. All Seeing Optical is the product of a lifelong dream to “help all people see” and Nicole welcomes us into her shop with the animated enthusiasm that comes from having a genuine passion for your craft.
What does All Seeing Optical provide? “Prescription eyewear, sunglasses, eyewear accessories, and safety glasses”
How long have you been in the NEC? “My husband and I have lived in the NEC since 2003 and the shop was founded in 2014.”
What motivated you to start your business? “It all started because I went to the dentist!” Nicole explains that when trying to locate a dentist in her area, she called 1-800-Dentist and was given the name of a dentist in the suite adjoining what is now her shop. As she and the dentist chatted during her appointment, she shared her dream of opening her own optical shop. “I worked for Lenscrafters; I worked for Pearl,” Nicole said, “and I knew what I wanted to do. I wanted to do it my way.” It turned out the dentist owned the building and the suite next to his office was vacant. Nicole remembers, “they called it ‘the dungeon;’ it was being used for storage.” After renovations, All Seeing Optical opened its doors. “Having my own optical shop has been a dream of mine. It wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t needed dental work! God put me here.”
“All Seeing Optical” is a very clever name! How did you come up with it? “My husband!” Nicole explains that while researching names for her new business with her husband, she at one point remarked that she “just wanted to help all people see.” He typed variations of that phrase into Google and kept getting search results with the all-seeing eye symbol. After they laughed at the idea of ‘Optical Oracle,’ “he came out one day and said ‘That’s it! It’s the all-seeing eye and you want to go to all people to get them to see!’ “
What are you best known for and why? “I am known for going the extra mile. I’ve always had a calling to help people. If you can’t get to the shop, I’ll come to you.”
You’ve mentioned going the extra mile and attention to detail as driving influences in your work. Do you have a story that summarizes why these qualities are so important to you? “A lady walked in to a doctor’s office where I worked and was complaining of seeing flashing lights. Sensing an emergency, I sent her to an ophthalmologist who did surgery for a detached retina and saved her eyesight!”
What keeps customers coming back? “Honesty, excellent customer service, and fun! My patients become friends.”
What about your business makes you most proud? “I get to help people see!”
Is there something unusual or fun about your line of work that the “civilian” wouldn’t necessarily know? “1) It is actually the brain that “sees.” The eyes take in the image and report to the brain. 2) The pupil of your eye does not open and close…the iris does!”
What do you like the best about being located in the NEC? “A great area with good, hardworking people and the NEC location allows easy access to everything.”
All Seeing Optical, 4719 Camino Dorado Dr. Suite 1, San Antonio, TX 78233, (210) 354-7390, http://www.allseeingoptical.com/.
Blanco’s Mexican Restaurant
Blanco’s Mexican Restaurant may be new to the NEC, but they are not new to making delicious Mexican food. Eduardo and Mariana Catano, owner and manager respectively, have been in the restaurant business for over fifteen years. After ten years on the Austin Highway, Blanco’s recently moved into the former Chicken Kings building at 11470 Perrin Beitel Road.
What are you best known for and why? “Food wise…our mole is homemade, not from a can like most places serve. We cook ours from scratch. Also, the chile relleno, which is the poblano pepper battered and fried, stuffed with either picadillo or white cheese, and topped with ranchero sauce. It’s served with Mexican rice, charro beans, and your two homemade tortillas – either corn or flour. Not many restaurants make both corn and flour. But we do. Everyday!”
What keeps customers coming back? “Good food and friendly, quick service – inside and at the drive-thru.”
What about your business makes you most proud? “The loyal customers that have followed us with this change in location. That lets us know that they do like the food, the service, and are willing to drive a little bit farther for great food!”
What makes Blanco’s stand out? “Good quality food, fresh flavors, and the homemade corn and flour tortillas. Also, cleanliness and the presentation of each plate.”
What do you like the best about your new NEC neighborhood? “We like that there’s an initiative to revitalize the neighborhood. It’s great for all of us.”Blanco’s Mexican Restaurant, 11470 Perrin Beitel Road, (210) 804-2430, www.blancosmexican.com.
Cowboy’s Garage owners Victor and Claudia may specialize in automotive repair, but they run a very tight ship! When we stopped by Cowboy’s new location at 11402 Perrin Beitel Road, Victor showed us around a spotless shop. That is no easy feat considering the number of cars the shop services daily- everything from SUVs to 1930s classics.
How long have you been in business? Since 2008.” Cowboy’s is new to the NEC, but Victor and Claudia have been in business in San Antonio for several years.
What services are you best known for? “Preventative maintenance, home of the $18.99 oil change, and general automotive repairs.”
What about your business makes you most proud? “We get to know our customers’ vehicles personally and can help them last longer.”
Any special reason you chose the name “Cowboy’s” for your shop? “We are die-hard Dallas Cowboys fans!”
Can you tell us something fun or unusual about the industry that the outsider wouldn’t necessarily know? “That flashing ‘check engine’ light is not always bad financial news. It could be just a fuse out somewhere or low fluids. Don’t be afraid to bring it in to get it checked. Waiting too long to get it checked out could cause damage and end up being costly. We offer free engine light analysis for that reason.”
What do you like best about being located on the NEC? “We are close to home, near the highway, and have great neighbors.”
Cowboy’s Garage is located at 11402 Perrin Beitel Road. You can reach them at (210) 590-3260 or connect via www.cowboysgarage.com, Facebook, or text cowboysgarage to 40691.
Spider Man Pest Control
What comes to mind when you think of the pest control business? White trucks toting tanks and hoses? In talking with Mr. Warren Remmey of Spider Man Pest Control, we learned that – much like an invasion of creepy-crawlers – there is a complexity to it that is not always immediately apparent to the casual observer! Spider Man is located at 12064 Nacogdoches Road, www.spidermanpestcontrol.net.
How long have you been in the NEC? “Since 1979. We used to watch the deer from the old office near Acorn Hill Road when Perrin Beitel was just two lanes.”
How did you become involved in pest control? “I was always a science sponge…I have a background in chemistry and geology.” Mr. Remmey put his education in science to use with a national pest control company before striking out on his own to start Spider Man. “I started out with an old pickup truck and had to find used equipment – I shared an office with a friend.” Business picked up quickly with word-of-mouth recommendations that turned into accounts with prominent national and local chains.
We like your company name! Where did you get the inspiration? “It was a nickname. During high school I raced motorcycles. You had to use your leg to balance in turns and my legs were so long that it stuck out almost in front of the wheel. A friend used to say, ‘Hey, you look like a spider out there!,’ and it stuck.”
What is the best thing about your job? “I enjoy solving the customers’ problems.”
Can you tell us something fun or unusual about the business that the “civilian” wouldn’t necessarily know? Mr. Remmey explains that there are six categories of certification in the industry. Each category covers a different type of pesticide or application technique; this ultimately determines the range of services a pest control company can provide.
Range of service is what makes Spider Man stand out. “There are so many factors that make each situation unique.” Cross-training on multiple categories allows the Spider Man team to “thoroughly evaluate each situation” and formulate the best mix of chemicals and application techniques for the job. The goal is to correct the problem with the least amount of interference. “We are also very environmentally conscious. We will often try treatments with natural oils – peppermint, lemon, rosemary – before we use something stronger.”
What are you best known for? “Honesty and solving problems. We are professional, clean, and efficient. That is also what keeps customers coming back.” Do you have a particular point of pride? “The biggest thing is we have earned people’s trust and respect. I treat people the way I’d treat family.”
To illustrate this point, Remmey recalls the story of an elderly widow who was quoted $5000 for a full-house termite fumigation. She was referred to Spider Man for a second opinion. With a little investigation, the Spider Man team found only two areas of infestation and was able to correct the problem with a less disruptive procedure and considerable savings. “She was even able to do a renovation job with the money she saved.”
What do you like best about the NEC community? “I saw the neighborhood grow from nothing to a thriving community. This feels like home. When we were looking for a new office site [a few years ago] I looked up Bulverde Road, but it didn’t feel like home. It felt unnatural to be anywhere else.”