Andrew Goodman and Chef Stefan Bowers are “celebrities” on the San Antonio culinary scene in Texas. The team currently has four restaurant/bar concepts under their belt including Rebelle, Feast, Haunt, and their latest endeavor, Battalion, housed in a renovated historic firehouse dating back to 1924. In addition to the original fire station elements such as the stairwells and fire poles, the revamped space is getting attention for its whimsical lighting and décor.
Getting his start as an entrepreneur in furniture design, Goodman’s venues all feature innovative lighting and décor that are constantly evolving.
“My process has definitely changed with each project,” he reveals. “Not only do I have a unique vision for each restaurant, but each space dictates what you actually can do.” Goodman describes all of his projects as distinctly themed: Rebelle is a glammed-up supper club; Feast has a very clean and contemporary South Beach vibe; Haunt feels like a ’60s James Bond villain’s lair; and Battalion showcases true Italian glamour.
“The historical space feels like it could be an old building in Rome, but the glam feel on the inside is very modern,” Goodman explains. “I really liked the juxtaposition and contrast of chrome, clean, and sleek lighting against the unfinished concrete and bareness of the walls. The fixtures just pop against the backdrop of the 100-year-old brick and mortar.”
To develop a modern vibe in a historic space for Battalion, Goodman was very strategic about lighting placement in the design. With the renovation’s location conveniently nearby, he was able to indulge in creative liberty.
“Battalion was probably the easiest of all four concepts because it was a warehouse-type space. It’s an old firehouse, so I could put lighting anywhere I wanted,” Goodman notes. “I put track lighting over the table with dimmers in each one, so I’m able to control the lighting over every single table in the restaurant. I was given complete freedom with my decorative lighting choices because the industrial aesthetic of the building meant I could use exposed conduit. Since Rebelle was in a hotel, we had to tear out the ceiling to put lighting in. All of our other concepts were finished out, so we had to take the attics and other building elements into consideration. Battalion was a breeze by comparison.”
This newfound decorative freedom led to a visually enticing mix of fixtures, highlighted with decahedron lighting, Medusa-like glass chandeliers, and a back-lit red bar. For the two main areas where the fire trucks used to park, Goodman employed five Tom Dixon decahedron lighting fixtures made from polished cut-out stainless steel over each of those two bays. There is one Chihuly-inspired blown glass fixture – designed by local artist Craig Clingan – above the bar in the dead center of the downstairs space. “It’s a blown glass piece that’s clear, and we added red LED lights to give the illusion of a big fireball explosion,” Goodman says. “Upstairs we have four Italian light fixtures from Illuminati. There’s also one chrome spotlight over the staircase that is just a piece from Restoration Hardware, but I chose it because it looked like a spotlight that would have been used on a fire truck in the 1920s to illuminate the area where the firefighters were working.”
It was very important to Goodman to maintain a respectful nod to the building’s history. “This piece really helped to add that element into the design,” he states.
The Lucite bar – as well as the bottles of liquor – are illuminated with red LEDs. “I loved the way this effect invites the bottles themselves to become part of the lighting design. I went with red not only as a nod to the fire engines, but it’s also a very passionate Italian color,” Goodman remarks. “Italians are known for red Ferraris, plus red is a prominent color in the Italian flag. Red has also been known to increase your appetite. I’m not sure if that’s true, although it might inspire people to try more than one of the pastas on the menu!”
While industry trends are top of mind for many designers, keeping tabs on them or incorporating them into his projects isn’t something Goodman is keen on. “I don’t like trends. Trends make your restaurant look dated. I try timeless designs that aren’t necessarily trendy,” he says. “For instance, right now Edison [filament] bulbs are very in, but it’s just not what I do. Granted, those are easy enough to change out, but I try to keep my restaurant designs evergreen.”
That said, Goodman’s expertise in furniture is something he often draws upon for each of his projects. “My background in furniture design definitely comes through because I do all my own restaurant design,” he comments. “My knowledge and experience has translated well, and it’s made the transition much easier than it would have been had I not started in that industry.”