A San Antonio city panel April 5 approved a conceptual design for the historic Kusch House in Hemisfair, a structure that will be renovated to house a new restaurant.

Hemisfair officials said Kristina Zhao, the owner of San Antonio restaurants Dashi Sichuan Kitchen + Bar and Sichuan House, is developing Kusch Faire for the downtown park. Zhao’s concept won approval from the San Antonio Historic and Design Review Commission.

Kusch Faire will feature Zhao’s mix of dishes from her existing restaurants, grab-and-go options for visitors to picnic in the park, and products from Zhao’s family's Asian Market as an amenity to both parkgoers and neighborhood residents, according to Hemisfair officials.

Hemisfair CEO Andres Andujar said the introduction of Kusch Faire and other eateries at Hemisfair complements the redevelopment of what had been the site of the 1968 World’s Fair into a mixed-use downtown area park.

“The Hemisfair food scene is expanding rapidly, and we couldn’t be more excited to welcome this wonderful concept and restauranteur to our district. As we are coming up on the 55th anniversary of the World’s Fair and its theme of ‘Confluence of Civilizations,’ it’s clear that we’re honoring that through the food offerings at Hemisfair,” Andujar said in a statement.

John Kusch, a stonemason and the home’s namesake, is believed to have built the 19th century gothic revival house, Hemisfair officials said, adding city historical records indicate the house was always owned by a Kusch family member until Hemisfair in 1968.

The 1,100-square-foot structure includes an additional 385 square feet of front and rear porch space and 550 square feet of area. The property also features an outdoor space suitable for additional seating with views of the adjacent Tower of the Americas.

To honor and complement the home’s original features, the design for the kitchen exterior is sleek and minimalistic and will incorporate yunwen and leiwen decorative panels used in the Taiwanese pavilion from the original 1968 Hemisfair event, Hemisfair officials said, adding the courtyard design will be more of a portal welcoming guests into Kusch Faire with arches.

Zhao said she appreciates the support provided by the Hemisfair team.

“My team and I are beyond honored and excited to bring a Sichuanese-Chinese concept for operation at the Kusch House and for the partnership opportunity to create, cultivate knowledge and inspire curiosity in our increasingly diverse community together,” Zhao said, adding renovations at the Kusch House will start in the fall with the restaurant set to open in summer 2024.

Hemisfair officials said the public retail and dining portion of the park exercises a flexible lease structure with its tenants, which rent the historic homes they occupy based on a percentage of sales.

Hemisfair officials said the park typically enjoys more than 600,000 visitors annually, though the lease structure is particularly forgiving in times of low attendance or economic uncertainty such as a pandemic.

According to Hemisfair officials, the Bank of America Charitable Foundation awarded a $750,000 grant to support the rehabilitation of the Kusch House.