Earl Abel's Hopes to Appeal to Younger Diners with Space Renovations, Updated Menu After Reopening

Jessica Elizarraras
Local dining institution Earl Abel’s recently closed for renovations, as new management Blue Label 88 LLC takes over the 86-year-old brand.

The restaurant is expected to reopen in early November with the same classic menu, but hopes to offer a bigger footprint – using the approximately 4,000-square-foot patio that extends from Broadway to Ave. B – to offer a park-like area with seating for patrons and a dog-friendly space.

This isn’t the first time Earl Abel’s has undergone changes, but it may be its biggest move yet. The restaurant left its 10,000-square-foot Austin Highway location and opened inside the 2,600-square-foot space at the Pearl in 2017.

"The team behind Arias Retail bought the place from Earl Jr. in 2006," said Danny Badiola, a managing member of Blue Label 88 LLC. "After 13 years and several location changes, I think they were ready to hand over the brand."

Earl Abel’s regulars are from Alamo Heights and the adjacent Olmos area, or their children, who are now grown.

“But the restaurant never really crossed over to millennials,” Badiola said."We're still going to Earl Abel's menu favorites like the fried chicken and pies, but working on it to make it more appealing and attractive for the current market."

There's fewer remaining icons like Earl Abel's in San Antonio, as new developments and businesses like the Bank of America and the new W Hotel prepare to open along the Broadway corridor in the coming years.

“By the time everything is said and done, there will be very few spaces like this, especially after the high rises are built," Badiola added.

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