The cantina’s building was originally constructed in the early 1900s in Martindale, Texas, but was relocated to Gruene in 1983. Previously, it was the Guadalupe Smoked Meat Co. and Janie’s Table.
Owner Patrick Molak has focused on preserving the historic district in Gruene since he purchased Gruene Hall in 1975.
“We love it when someone cares about property with historic value,” Molak said. “It fits into Gruene well.”
His company, Patrick S. Molak Corp., also owns Gristmill River Restaurant & Bar, Gruene Hall and Mozie’s as well as other properties in Gruene and San Antonio.
The cantina is a more laid-back restaurant than Molak’s other businesses and offers a menu that accepts suggestions from employees and customers, Molak said.
“We have a bunch of great people in the kitchen,” Molak said. “We're real open to contributions”
General Manager Genine Duniphin started working with Molak eight years ago and worked her way up from being a hostess at the Gristmill to becoming one of its managers before transferring to the cantina in summer 2019.
“It’s a fun environment,” Duniphin said. “I enjoy the staff I work with.”
After joining Cantina’s team, Duniphin focused on implementing changes and suggestions from employees and customers to help the restaurant run smoothly, she said.
“I’ve had guests pull me aside to make suggestions,” Duniphin said. “Communication is key.”
Throughout the cantina’s changes, the atmosphere and central menu items have remained consistent and are the main elements customers appreciate, Molak said.
According to Molak, the cantina's margaritas have been voted by locals as the best margaritas in New Braunfels for seven years, a distinction Molak attributes to their simple and classic recipe.
“It’s a cozy little spot,” Molak said. “You can sit and watch the world go by.”
Cantina del Rio
1299 Gruene Road, New Braunfels
Hours: Sun.-Thu. 11 a.m.-9 p.m., Fri.-Sat. 11 a.m.-10 p.m.