New grocery store slated to open on East Side signals greater growth in area

SAN ANTONIO – The East Side is growing as new businesses strive to make a name for themselves and attract more customers to the area.

Austin-based Royal Blue Grocery recently announced that it will be opening a new location in the Dignowity Hill neighborhood.

James Mireles, owner of Pulp Coffee Roasters on Chestnut Street, said more development and businesses are a positive sign of growth in the area. He opened his business six years ago.

“My wife and I decided this would be our home ground. ‘The price is affordable. We can try,” Mireles said.

Mireles started out as a wholesaler, but as more people moved to the East Side, he saw the opportunity to sell directly to customers.

“We’re still in this hybrid mode and hope to be in retail outlets so people can actually try things they’ve never tried before,” Mireles said.

Mireles worked with the nonprofit San Antonio for Growth on the East Side, or SAGE, to help her grow her business.

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“I want to recruit businesses that want to grow, and I want this community to help those businesses. But only by making the community bigger, better, and stronger can we achieve that,” said Robert Melvin, CEO and President of SAGE “Royal Blue is an example of a small boutique grocery store that has the flexibility to learn the market.”

Melvin said SAGE not only wants these businesses to succeed, but the organization also wants to train people to work there. He highlighted their partnership with St. Philip’s College, which has just built three new workforce training centers.

“St. Philip’s College is critical because it’s the institution that can provide a pathway,” Melvin said. “Workforce development and training is how we give individuals the opportunity to participate.”

Pulp Coffee is an example of small business growth on the East Side. Mireles said he started with a 600 square foot space and expanded to a 2,000 square foot facility and a tasting room.

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“We just hope to see the East Side, the West Side and the South Side — the closed pockets of downtown — come back to life,” Mireles said.

Since 2013, SAGE has awarded $1.4 million to over 170 East Side businesses for various upgrades and to keep landlords in the area.

“We’re going to be made up of San Antonio, local businesses, and that’s going to create a culture that can be modeled anywhere else, but it’s going to start here,” Melvin said.

Melvin added that it was time to remove the stigma and myths associated with the East Side in the past.

“We are a community full of families and the gateway to the city of San Antonio,” Melvin said. “It should be a representation of who and what we are as a community. We are this beautifully blended tapestry of culture, music, language and food. So we have to celebrate that.

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