Monthly Archives: February 2013

Meet Louie Jerger: Island Guide Sales Manager, Distributor, and Genius Guitarist

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{Originally Written For and Published  By The Island Guide Magazine, February 1, 2013}

Louie Jerger

Sales Manager, Distributor, and Genius Guitarist

By Kimber Fountain

                Louie Jerger got his first guitar when he was eight years old. He did not actually begin playing it until his teens, at a time when Ozzie Osbourne and Poison posters instantly turned any normal, suburban garage into a rehearsal studio. But one day, as he walked out of his family home in Tyler, Texas, he heard a strange sound coming from the park down the street. He turned and walked towards it curiously. He liked it immediately, even though it was far from the spastic, thrashing melodies he currently played. It was lilting, it was rhythmic, it was soulful, it was Blues.

In that park he would also find his first music mentor who patiently taught him the art of Blues, and at nineteen Louie moved to New Orleans and began an established career with Pig Pen and the Pork Chops; at the height of their career the band played along Dr. John at the House of Blues. Family obligations brought Louie back to Texas, where he met Mark Turner at an open mic night. Together they formed Blue Louie, began writing songs, and they still play together almost twenty years later. Blue Louie toured the United States and Europe, and released their first album in 1997 through Breakaway Records. Two more CDs would soon follow.

The music business is just that, a business, full of bookings and promotions, sales and persuasion. Fortunately the interpersonal skills of Louie Jerger served Blue Louie and their success just as well as his musical talents. They traveled from town to town for months on end, sometimes not even quite sure where they would be playing until the day they arrived. But Louie does not know any strangers, only friends he has not yet met, and thus Blue Louie was rarely without a stage or an audience. While taking breaks from touring, Galveston was often a place where they would come to relax and unwind from their adventures as road warriors, and most trips also ended up with an impromptu performance at places like the old M&M or Java 213. They even developed a bit of a following here on the Island, with a group of loyal fans affectionately dubbing themselves the “Blue Losers.”

Then on one fateful day, Louie received a request for an interview with Tena Jordan for the magazine she published in his hometown of Tyler called the EGuide. After the interview and then much convincing on his part, Tena finally relented and agreed to a date with Louie, but it would be three months before he returned from the road to make good on his request. They were soon married, and after the release of Blue Louie’s third CD, Louie decided it was time for a break. He opened a real estate firm in Tyler, where he worked primarily with investors and developers. After Tena sold the E Guide, she worked with Louie in real estate; all the while the couple drove to Galveston almost every weekend. Soon they began thinking about making a change, and decided to flip flop their lives. They would make Galveston their home, and Tyler the place they visited on the weekends.

Louie encouraged Tena with her idea to publish a Galveston version of her E Guide, knowing that the Island was truly in need of a publication similar to the Houston Press, which promotes upcoming events and entertainment. And although he had never worked in the business before, the one thing he knew from his music days was how to sell, and so Tena put him to work. Louie manages all of the advertising sales and distribution for The Island Guide, and does so always with an extra effort towards customer service and community. Advertisers and distributors receive personalized attention, and the distribution of the publication is strong and dependable. Racks are checked, refilled, organized, and maintained on a regular basis.

Louie also finds it important to stay involved in the community around him. In the Island Guide, local events that are open to the public are privy to free promotion, which follows closely with Louie and Tena’s desire to give back to Galveston. He is also a member of the Sharon Shrine Lodge and is a Master Mason with the Henry Marsh Bell Lodge. Blue Louie performs regularly across the Island; currently they are featured at the Poop Deck every other Thursday, and in March will resume Burgers & Blues with Blue Louie at the Beach Hut.

Louie and Tena are also putting their years of real estate experience to work with their newest publication, Galveston Real Estate Guide, or GREG. Louie is a licensed broker, and saw the need for a one-stop real estate guide without the spam of craigslist or the expense of other local advertisements. As a prospective tenant or home buyer, the Galveston real estate system is often hard to navigate, and GREG allows for streamlined, easy-to-read listings featuring several local real estate agents.

Tena says of Louie that, “whenever he does something, he does it right.” And in that spirit he continues to set personal goals, like winning Galveston Island’s Biggest Loser Contest. He also looks toward extending the promotion of the thriving local music community by creating a Musician’s Guild. This would be a collaboration of Island artists all working together to promote and grow Galveston talent and the local music scene. Even Blue Louie is set to expand soon, as they are currently searching for a bassist and percussionist to fill a rhythm section. But as always Louie will continue to do what he does best, and that is win friends and welcome them to the Island Guide family.

The Jungle: Eat on the Wild Side

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{Originally Written For and Published By The Island Guide Magazine, February 1, 2013}

The Jungle

Eat on the Wild Side

By Kimber Fountain

 

Tucked away in an unassuming location just off the seawall is a place where palms trees and seagulls are replaced with the sights of a tropical forest and an exotic menagerie. Fortunately for the person in search of a delicious, homespun meal, this menagerie is entirely edible and the terrain of Galveston’s Jungle is relatively easy to traverse. Simple and efficient both in its methods and its ambiance, this local favorite proves without question that gourmet food does not have to come at a gourmet price.

That was one of the main philosophies David and Vickie Morley set forth to embody when they embarked on their journey to bring the best of their restaurant and service talents to the Island. For almost twenty years David worked all over the United States and in the Carribean as an executive in the hotel food and beverage industry, promising all the while to someday bring Vickie back home to Texas. When that time finally came, they searched all down the Texas coast from Beaumont to Corpus Christi for their ideal location. Their third visit to Galveston was quite a trip for David, as he broke his foot while touring their current location when it was under construction. Not stymied by the accident or by the state of things as they were just after Hurricane Ike, the couple decided they wanted very much to be a part of Galveston’s recovery process.

And be a part of it they have, as their humble little establishment has been overwhelmingly welcomed by the Island community and given David and Vickie the opportunity to grow their dreams right alongside Galveston’s reemergence as a resilient survivor. The support they have garnered from the local community is a fitting reward for The Jungle, as they operate in such a manner that is geared towards the customer with friendly, personalized service and downright amazing food.

It was a flash of inspiration from David that gave The Jungle its concept and name, coupled with an interest in African décor and tribal art that once adorned the formal dining room in their home. Originally it was intended to be primarily a hot dog joint, but as their demand grew so did their selection. The result is a current menu that reads like a who’s who of wild animals, and is as full of choices as it is flavor.

Dishes are paired with the style and personality of their namesakes, such as the Rhino Hoagie, a sandwich stuffed full of spicy sausage, sautéed onions, bacon, and Jungle Mustard. Or the Hippo Hoagie, that boasts a gargantuan slab of homemade meatloaf drenched in Jungle Tiger sauce. The Shrimp Burger, a seafood cake full of shrimp and spices perched atop a fresh bun is a unique and original creation of David’s, and a house favorite. The recipes for chili and baked beans are also labors of love from David; many have tried to replicate their intense, savory flavor, but so far no one has succeeded. The potato salad, pea salad, and macaroni and cheese are all recipes of Vickie’s mother, and next to the baked beans are the highlights amid a vast selection of side dishes. Reubens, salads, stuffed baked potatoes, Gyros, an Aardvark Club Sandwich, and of course hot dogs round out the fare. The Jungle also features hand-dipped ice cream, milkshakes, malts, sundaes, and freshly baked desserts.

Any professional diner knows that a level of service is just as important, if not more so, than the quality of food that a place produces. David and Vickie know this too, and so they seemingly always go the extra mile for their guests, not only keeping a cautious eye on the consistency of the food they put out, but also in the manner it is delivered, so much so that they offer a rare service to their patrons and deliver beyond the walls of their restaurant to a ten mile radius. Galveston itself is only thirty-two miles long, so it goes without saying this convenience extends to the majority of homes, hotels, and businesses here. Also if you are a bit leery of something with a name like Jungle Tiger sauce, or are not convinced that David’s baked beans will live up to your mom’s, they will gladly serve up a sample before you purchase.

Ahead for guests of The Jungle is a new and expanded menu slated for release at the end of January. They will add several new salads and sandwiches, but their current favorites, the generous portions, high quality ingredients, and low prices will remain the same.

In the two short years since David and Vickie answered the call of the wild, the steady and increasing success of this local eatery has come at a rapid pace, all due to an unwavering commitment to join the ranks of unbeatable quality offered by so many of  Galveston’s small businesses. Their food is nothing short of superb, the service is generous and friendly, and they are both presented with a charm, personality, and warmth that is sure to delight. It may, if only for a moment, even make you feel like King of The Jungle.

 

The Jungle

1914 23rd Street

409.770.0300

www.thejungle.co (***note it is in fact .co not .com)

Dine In, Carry Out, Delivery

 

Galveston’s Own Farmers Market: The Beginning of a Homegrown Tradition

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{Originally Written For and Published By The Island Guide Magazine, February 1, 2013}

Galveston’s Own Farmers’ Market

The Beginning of a Homegrown Tradition

By Kimber Fountain

                A farmers’ market has been a seed in the mind of many Galveston locals for several years now, but last summer those minds at last joined forces and ambition. From their collective ideas and community consciousness emerged an initiative that has quickly been established as a new Island tradition. Galveston’s Own Farmer’s Market is more than simply a collection of local farmers and food producers; it is an event that livens up downtown every Sunday morning, and it is a place that provides a peaceful, friendly, and fun alternative to the supermarket.

Cate Black, Travis Bible, Kat Lilley, Vince Bruno, Tyler Hall, Sid Holliday III, and Steve Hermecke comprise the group of like-minded individuals that sought to bring the best of local agriculture to the Island. Hermecke donates the land for their use, Cate Black deftly manages the entire undertaking, and most of the group also represent their own products at the Market. Together they have expanded and created a network of community support and outreach that well serves the Galveston community. Not only does it offer natural, organic food sources to locals and visitors, it affords one the unique opportunity to put a face with a product. Patrons of the Farmer’s Market buy directly from the hands that grew, harvested, or otherwise created the wide variety of goods available.

Galveston’s Own Farmers Market is an accredited, permitted, and Texas Certified Farmers Market that currently provides space to farmers from Santa Fe, LaMarque, Seabrook, Alvin, and Galveston, and underlying the commitment of this group of amazing individuals is their passion for increasing public awareness. A trip to the Farmer’s Market is also an educational opportunity. The farmers and vendors are happy to share their stories, their processes, and their inspirations behind the products they offer. Most of them do not come from a long family tradition of farming; they are first generation farmers that purposely sought out a way and a means to produce healthier, earth-conscious fare. All vendors must be approved by the board of directors of the market, and they must submit an application that outlines their growing practices. The board also limits purveyors to a one hundred mile radius in an effort to truly keep their efforts local.

Among the vendors is Galveston’s Market Street Foods, which also houses the certified kitchen out of which Vince and Nellie Bruno brew their Kombucha tea. Kombucha is tea put through a fermenting process, where antioxidants and B vitamins are released, resulting in a delicious beverage that boosts the immune system and energizes the body and mind. Oasis Juice Bar, another Island favorite, is also a vendor, along with Proverbs Farm and Dairy out of Alvin. Proverbs is the enterprise of Tammy Kocurek, who raises goats and from their milk creates cheese, soaps, and lotion. Hill Country Olive Company is also a regular attender with their homemade oils and vinegar, and the newest addition to the Market’s family is Law Ranch out of Crosby, who will be selling their pasture-raised, grass-fed beef one Sunday a month.

Pure Beeing also sets up every Sunday to provide local, raw honey, along with Jackie’s Gourmet who offers preserves and jams, pickled vegetables, and salsas. TexaSelect Farms offers starter plants and eggs, which are also sold by Kenz Henz Eggs out of Santa Fe. The large selection of fresh produce available comes from a variety of sources, including CoCreative Organics (Alvin), Winter Family Farm (Santa Fe), Thomas Autrey Farm (Santa Fe), and Deborah’s Garden, Galveston’s community garden on Post Office Street just across from the Market’s location. Completing the line-up is Island Aquaponics out of Galveston, and Vincent Morreale who sells pecans from his orchard in Santa Fe.

At Galveston’s Own Farmers’ Market, entertainment is provided as well, with hula hoops for the kids to enjoy and live music from local musicians.  Robert Kuhn performs the first Sunday of every month; Matty Sullivan and Kevin Anthony provide the accompaniment for the second and third Sundays, respectively. The Farmer’s Market is also currently open to receiving new musicians to fill the alternate weekends.

At the corner of 25th and Post Office, every Sunday morning from nine am to one pm, a truly special and unique thing is happening. In a fashion that resonates with everything Islander, a dedicated group of people has come together to provide locals and visitors alike with an experience that is best conveyed by their mission statement. “Galveston’s Own Farmers’ Market [strives] to foster a greater sense of community, all the while supporting farmers and producers and connecting individuals with their local food economy.” The fulfillment of that mission is apparent in the fact that even on cold, rainy days, most vendors completely sell out. If that is not convincing enough, consider that the Market is the only place on the Island can you find hula hoops, a Cajun accordion, and a guy in a carrot suit, all in one place.

Galveston’s Own Farmers’ Market

2508 Post Office Street

Every Sunday, 9am-1pm

For information, vendor applications, or musician submissions contact Cate Black at gofarmersmarket@gmail.com.

 

Meet Tena Jerger: Publisher and Graphic Designer of The Island Guide Magazine

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{Originally Written For and Published By The Island Guide Magazine, January 4, 2013}

 

Tena Jerger

Publisher and Graphic Designer of The Island Guide,

and “Yes, I Create All the Covers Myself”

                The Island Guide made its debut on April 5, 2012, and has quickly become a popular favorite among visitors and residents alike. The periodical’s stunning graphic design and efficient layout, coupled with the work of talented writers, photographers, and reviewers, continues to perpetuate its ever-increasing success. In fact, the consistent standard of professional quality and graceful aesthetics set forth by this unique publication has even raised the speculation that it must be the product of a large corporation. But a peek into the inner workings of the Island reveals that Galveston has always drawn from a wellspring of incomparable local talent, subsequently beckoning bright minds and eager artists from all over the great state of Texas. Thus it should be no surprise to learn that in essence, The Island Guide is a symphony of superb local artists, conducted by a single woman whose passion for her craft is rivaled only by her dedication to the community.

Tena Jerger was born and raised in Tyler, Texas, where her father was a respected schoolteacher. She attended North Texas University where she earned her degree in graphic design and illustration with a minor in English. For several years Tena worked in the production department of the Dallas Observer, designing layouts for a publication that circulated 70-100 pages per week. But soon, the desire to create her own paper, her way, led Tena to create the Tyler Entertainment Guide, or E-Guide. Her first circulation disseminated a mere 1500 copies, but within four months she was able to quit her day job, and when she sold the business seven years later, the circulation of the E-Guide had surpassed 21,000 copies per issue.

At the time Tena was approached with an offer to purchase the Tyler E-Guide, she had reached a point in her life where she felt it was indeed time to move on, and as the stipulations of the sale included a non-compete clause, she knew that the ‘move’ would be as literal as it was figurative. Tena had owned property in Galveston since 1998 and the Island had always been a favorite getaway destination, and it seemed the perfect location to start anew. But she left only her business behind, bringing with her the lessons from her father; her editor Jill Kerr, who was the very first writer she hired to work for the E-Guide; and most importantly the wisdom of one of her mentors David Cantu, who taught her that the turning point in life and in business comes with the realization that the “extra mile” is not a cliché, it is a mantra, and that the more you give, the more you get.

And so the appeal of the vivid and brilliant pages of The Island Guide is no accident, nor is it a product of an out-of-touch corporation, and all the facets of the business behind the publication that further strengthen its purpose ooze the experience, knowledge, talent, and heart of Tena Jerger. She designs and produces all of the cover art herself, and her artistry is indeed one of the highlights of the magazine, as many avid readers look forward with great anticipation to her next graphic illustrations. Tena also designs many of the advertisements, and her work is of such a caliber that many of her designs, as with Bulldogs Bait Shop on 61st Street , have been adopted as their official logos.

In addition to the cover art and the ads, the paper is created and laid out entirely at the hands of Tena, using Adobe Illustrator and Photo Shop.  The distribution of The Island Guide currently includes 188 locations across the Island, and it is continuing to grow. Even the University of Texas Medical Branch will soon be welcoming the trademark beach-chair stands on which rest the current issues. A new issue of the Island Guide can be found on stands every two weeks from May through September, and on the first Friday of every month between October and April.  Additionally The Island Guide offers extremely competitive advertising rates along with the added bonus of Tena’s artistic prowess.

Coming up in 2013, The Island Guide will present a new and expanded Fun Map, and it will feature with detail every ArtWalk of the year. A Family Fun section will be added, along with a section that highlights Galveston’s extensive retail selection and array of small business owners outside of the restaurant spectrum. The Island Guide will also be expanding its distribution and advertising to the surrounding Galveston County. Tena is also pleased to present the newest addition to the family, GREG, the Galveston Real Estate Guide, published monthly, which highlights local realtors and properties for sale across the Island.

The heart of the Island Guide and its quick rise in popularity lies within its network of the family and community spirit, and the energies and people who surround Tena’s printing press far outshine the beauty of the pages it produces. The idea of the beach-chair newsstand was brought forth by Louie Jerger, Tena’s husband, who also directs the sales department of the paper, and they were built by her father out of all recycled materials. The leftover papers picked up from previous issues, although usually less than one percent of the total production, are all one hundred percent recycled. They are given to Kroger, used to line the pens inside the Galveston Island Humane Society, or given to the Galveston Arts Center where they receive a new life as paper mache creations. Furthermore, The Island Guide will advertise for free any event that is open to the public or serves a charitable community cause.

Tena Jerger, whether she knew it or not at the time, came to exactly the right place. The Island Guide fills a niche in Galveston Periodicals, promoting all of the upcoming events and adventures in a way that is not only informative, but heartfelt. By using predominantly local talent to supplement her own and the strength of family and friends to nurture it, by directing her publication towards the perpetuation of the Island community and its causes, and by providing an in depth look to the people behind the businesses, The Island Guide has won the hearts of readers and will surely continue its efforts for many years to come.

 

Galveston’s McGuire Dent Recreation Center: Promoting a Healthy Community

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{Originally Written For and Published By The Island Guide Magazine, January 4, 2013}

Galveston’s McGuire Dent Recreation Center:

Promoting a Healthy Community,

Host of Galveston Island’s Biggest Loser Challenge 2013

                Barbara Sanderson, the Director of Parks and Recreation, has worked for the City of Galveston for over twenty-one years, and so to revel in her tireless enthusiasm for the recent improvements and upcoming events at the McGuire Dent Recreation Center reveals that this place is truly a special thread in the fabric of the Galveston Island community. The Rec Center is free for any resident, employee, or long term visitor of Galveston with a valid state ID, and boasts a full size basketball gym, computer lab, community center, and two racquetball courts.

But the new pride and joy of McGuire Dent is their new, full line of cardio and strength training equipment. They are the first facility in Texas to have installed the latest equipment from Precor, a division of Marathon Fitness. The new machines are part of a new line called the C-Line series. Twenty-six pieces of cardio equipment and twenty-one pieces of strength-training equipment have been professionally laid out and installed, giving the fitness center a new lease on life and a much needed overhaul from their previous, troublesome collection of workout machines.

After Hurricane Ike in 2008, Barbara worked alongside John Armstrong, Superintendent of the Rec Center, to do what they could to keep the facility up and running, with whatever equipment they could find. A representative from Timberland brought in the local Academy store, which generously gave of its time and charitable efforts to outfit the Center. The equipment was of course a blessing, but after a couple of years became prone to breaking down. And every time a machine broke down, the process to repair it was extensive and inconvenient, often taking weeks or months.

Patrons often had to wait to use the machines that did work, and as the “Out of Order” signs became more and more of a regular occurrence, the Rec Center saw its numbers slowly decline until eventually the number daily visitors was whittled down to less than half of what it had been. John himself bore the brunt of the frustration, working constantly to find parts, make repairs, and deal with squeaky machines and squeakier, angry users.

At last the esteemed members of City Council voted to include the McGuire Dent Recreation Center under the umbrella of the funds set forth by the Galveston Industrial Development Corporation (IDC), and they received a generous annual budget. After the budget was announced, John and Barbara set to work on a list of priorities, one of the first of which was new fitness equipment. The selection committee approved the Park improvement budget, and the result is a work-out room practically glows with the spirit of Galveston and the pride of Barbara Sanderson and John Armstrong.

The top of the line equipment is clean, quiet, and at the forefront of modern technology. Each of the pieces of strength training equipment is complete with a QR code; scan it with a smart phone and it links to a video with instructions on how to use the machine. The machines have been placed in compliance with the standards of the American Disabilities Act (ADA), and in such a way that just “flows,” as John remarks. Even though the number of users has risen once again to its previous volume, he attests that the room never feels crowded or invasive.

Along with these new additions comes another first to the Island. In conjunction with the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB), McGuire Dent will be hosting the first ever Galveston Island Biggest Loser Challenge of 2013. This is a thirteen week weight-loss challenge that begins on January 12th and runs through April 13th. Participation is free, and cash prizes will be given to the first and second place winners in each category: individual male and female, small group (2-10 people), and large group (11-26 people). (Only those eighteen years or older are eligible for cash prizes)

Free activities open to the public will be offered during the challenge; events will encourage all Islanders, whether or not they participate in the challenge, to engage in active living and healthy eating. The Biggest Loser Challenge is spearheaded by Liz Torres of UTMB, and its main goals are to raise awareness of the importance of a healthy lifestyle, both on the individual and community level. Individual participants will seek to improve their overall health with reasonable goals, such as adding nutrient-rich foods to their diet. It is also the hope of McGuire Dent and UTMB to further enrich the Galveston community by uniting Islanders under this common purpose. For more information on Galveston Island’s Biggest Loser Challenge of 2013, visit www.transforminggalveston.com, or contact Liz at 409.772.2554.

As for the Rec Center, all of the new and exciting improvements and challenges only add to the many offerings, activities, and programs that run year-round. The Center offers programs for both adults and children, including unofficial volleyball and basketball leagues, aerobic kick-boxing and cardio boxing classes given by Fernando Robles, a fifth degree black belt, and their quarterly Life Screening, a preventative service provided for a small fee by Memorial Hermann Hospital. McGuire Dent also regularly hosts guitar lessons, arts and crafts, the Galveston Bridge Club, and the Grandmothers Club of Galveston.

 

McGuire Dent Recreation Center

2222 28th St. (28th and Seawall)

409.621.3177

http://www.cityofgalveston.org

The Original Mexican Cafe: Where Legacy Meets Tradition

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{Originally Written For and Published By The Island Guide Magazine, December 7, 2012}

The Original Mexican Cafe, located at the corner of 14th Street and Market in the heart of the East End Historical District, is as much a testament to the tenacity of Galveston as it is a legend in its own right. Holding the prestige as the oldest Mexican restaurant in Texas, the Original has been in continuous operation since 1916 and has survived and thrived despite numerous ownership changes and a few significant run-ins with Mother Nature. Quality, consistency, and loyal employees have been the keystones for the perpetual success of this unique and truly original cafe.

Della Salas began working at the Original as a waitress back in 1963, and is just a few months shy of the fifty year mark, which makes her a witness to multiple owners and more than half of the restaurant’s extended life. She worked as a floor manager for many years and now runs the office, although she is frequently sighted in the dining room where she enjoys greeting both regulars and visitors. Locals appreciate the familiarity she offers, and she is always happy to welcome and answer the questions of  first time guests.

Della also remembers well the slow and steady growth that has taken place over her half-century of service to the Original.’ The dining room was once just one small room, and then the bar was added, and then the patio was enclosed to expand the indoor seating area. Hurricane Ike in 2008 also rendered serious damage; everything down to the menus, was destroyed. Like so many others, they were pretty much forced to start over.  However, Ike was not their first brush with disaster. In 1992 the building was consumed by fire, not an inch of the interior was untouched.  But even this did little to slow their expansion, yet instead offered the opportunity to expand even further. The fire shut down operations for over four months, but resulted in the rehabilitation of the second floor into yet another seating area that is available for private parties (reservations only).

Although the length of Della’s service is by far the longest of any of the restaurant employees, most of the servers and kitchen staff have been employed for an average of ten to fifteen years, a rare occurrence in an industry that is quite often a revolving door. They are knowledgeable, efficient, and highly skilled in their duties to the guests. They have also played an integral role in the making of the restaurant’s history.

Much of the credit for the staying power of this bold and bright establishment is given to John Bannon, who was the owner and operator from 1987 until 2007. He infused the atmosphere with what can only be described as love and passion, as he was a computer technician and had never before run a Mexican restaurant. But his employees generously offered to him their expertise and experience with the cuisine, and the creation of the menu, much of which still remains, was a collaboration of all of their input. Equal recognition must also be given to the current owner, Nicholas Servos, who has steadily maintained the legacy of consistency and quality for which the Original is so widely known.

Their menu is expansive and varied; it includes all of the traditional Mexican favorites like mole and fajitas, along with many delicate spins on the traditional fare, such as the Camarones de Cabo, an explosive take on grilled shrimp, and the Pollo Ranchero, a grilled chicken breast smothered with onions, mushrooms, and Monterrey Jack cheese. They even offer a full vegetarian menu, a unique addition and a favorite among many local patrons. Every item is made fresh, from scratch, and the flavors that emit from their wide assortment of appetizers, soups, salads, and entrees will far exceed the expectations of even the most seasoned aficionado of Latin cuisine. the Original is family friendly, capable of accommodating large groups, and offers a full-service bar. They are also the perfect location for rehearsal dinners, business meetings, private parties, and receptions.

The Original is critically and publicly acclaimed, and it has been featured in Texas Monthly as one of the top 75 Mexican restaurants in the state. It is also a regular recipient of Galveston.com’s Best of Galveston award, chosen by popular vote, and it has been repeatedly recognized by OutSmart magazine. It has also received a Reader’s Choice award from The Daily News.

Galveston is quite well known for safeguarding tradition, and thus the history and longevity of the Original Mexican Cafe is a well-suited addition to Island life for both residents and visitors. The dedication and loyalty of its management and staff easily extends from the restaurant to their guests, and as always, the people behind its success are of course the very reason for it.

The Original Mexican Cafe

1401 Market

409.762.6001

www.galveston.com/theoriginal

Dine In/Carry Out/Private Parties/Catering

Monday – Friday 11am-9pm

Saturday & Sunday 8am-9pm (Breakfast 8am-1pm)

The Rosenberg Library: A Monument to Galveston’s Past, Present, and Future

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{Originally Written For and Published by The Island Guide, December 7, 2012}

Easily recognized as one of the premiere institutions on the Island, the Rosenberg Library is, in every way, an embodiment of the best of Galveston, and it offers to both the local and visiting public amenities and attractions that far surpass its basic function as a keeper of a book collection. In fact, Rosenberg Library has made collecting an art form in itself. Priceless works of fine art and a treasure trove of historical records and artifacts are woven together with cutting edge technology and perhaps their most valuable collection, the group of amazing people that make it all possible.

This wealth of collections is further intensified by the magnificence and grandeur of the building, which alone is worth admiring. The original construction was completed in 1904 at the behest of Henry Rosenberg, an elite businessman and philanthropist from Switzerland, and one of many in the nineteenth century who acquired a fortune in Galveston from a myriad of commercial endeavors. Thus the architecture is befitting the opulence of that time, and its palatial dimensions and stunning detail add immensely to the magic.

Of course a 108 year old building does not thrive and maintain its beauty by accident,  and when John Augelli arrived in Galveston in 2002 to serve as Executive Director, the upgrading of the structure and infrastructure were his main priorities. He has made many accomplishments behind the scenes of operation that have, although largely unseen, generated significant momentum in the library’s growth and expansion into a resilient, technologically advanced facility. A new roof, intensive repair of the terra cotta on the exterior, air handlers, and the installation of humidity control devices are among the projects Augelli has overseen, and he even managed to divert the destruction of Hurricane Ike into a foray amid the latest advancements in civil engineering. John witnessed the invasion of water into the building firsthand, and recalls how at 12 midnight there were two inches of water, and by 12:20am there were seventy-five. The lower level is slated to be reopened in July or August of 2013; flood-proof doors, flood gates, aquarium glass, and check valves will all be in place to protect the new home of the Children’s Library and two state-of-the-art meeting rooms.

On the main level is where the bibliophiles revel and the sweet smell of books permeates the air. You are greeted by a friendly staff and the bright colors of the Children’s Library, after which large marble staircases rise triumphantly on either side of you, and a corridor lined with historic artifacts on display leads you past a periodical room and small bookstore area. There you find an extensive collection of reading, viewing, and listening materials, all conveniently accessible on an electronic card catalog, which can also be found online. Rosenberg Library is linked in with the BookMyne App available for smart phones, allowing quick and easy access to the current status of inventory and even a member’s account information.  The library also has in place a courtesy email service, to remind their patrons of upcoming due dates.

Just above the book collection is a Mezzanine level with a large computer lab, available for use to both visitors and residents. Scanners, printers, and even a little IT help from the friendly proctor if you need it are all part of the technologically advanced mix, and the entire lab is wired with fiber optic cables for high speed capabilities. (If you prefer to use your own computer, Rosenberg Library also has free wi-fi.)  Plans are underway currently for a large multi-media room encased in glass that will sit adjacent to the lab. This will be the location of many new classes the library hopes to offer and will also be available for private reservations.

Continuing our tour of Rosenberg Library we end on the third floor, the level that makes the library so much more than a library. Rare remembrances of Galveston’s past are lovingly and beautifully displayed under the direction of the museum’s curator Eleanor Barton. The permanent displays highlight a Native American collection and a tribute to Galveston’s long, enduring history. Smaller exhibits rotate periodically, as do the displays of modern photography which are often the work of local talent. The path through the museum leads you to the residence of Rosenberg Library’s most awe-inspiring collection, the Galveston and Texas History Center; to call it an archive would not do it justice. GTHC houses one of the largest collections of historical documents in Texas which has been carefully tended to by Mr. Casey Greene for well over two decades. As many of the acquisitions are fragile, this collection is not available for browsing, but is invaluable in its resources as a research facility.

The rarity and value of Rosenberg Library is not only in its attractions, but in its operations. Although it receives some support from the City and County of Galveston, it operates as a 501(c)(3) organization and its efforts and offerings are otherwise perpetuated solely by private gifts, endowments, and contributions from their patrons. In fact, one generous donor gifted an endowment specifically for Christmas decorations, thus holiday cheer abounds as the library hosts its December events.

The Children’s Services department is directed by Karen Stanley, and they are pleased to announce Breakfast with Santa, Wednesday, December 5th at 10am and 11:15am, Friday, December 7th at 4pm, and Saturday, December 8th at 9:30am and 11am. Kids (and their grown-ups) will hear holiday stories, create a souvenir, and visit with Santa.

Maurine Sweeney serves as the head of Adult Services, which offers a nice mix of regularly scheduled events and meetings along with an endless variety of different educational opportunities each month. Saturday, December 8th from 10am-11am, the public is offered to learn about the art of Bonsai at a Bonsai Tree creation Demonstration with professional Clyde Holt. Or join the Second Saturday Book Club, an open discussion group to discuss a wide range of books. The group meets on December 8th from noon to one, where the books for 2013 will be selected.

The Musem Book Club, The Intersection of Art & Literature, puts an enticing spin on their selections and meetings, as they combine the discussion of modern literary works with the viewing of artifacts in the museum’s collection that highlight the themes and time periods of the works. Their next meeting is Wednesday, December 12th, where they will discuss the book “Strapless” and explore art from the museum archives.

These are only a few of the many events and learning experiences offered by the Rosenberg Library, and only a handful of the administration, staff, and operations which are above all generous to and mindful of their patrons, adding immensely to the richness of this organization. The processes are steadily being updated to make the facilities comfortable and easy to use, sometime in the near future they will even offer self-checkout registers, like the ones found in the supermarket. But it also offers to their visitors the opportunity to explore and discover the treasures in the attic and the depths of their archives, and the people at Rosenberg Library are constantly and consistently working to enrich the community through family friendly events and educational services. For those familiar with Rosenberg Library, it is easy to attest that this establishment is most assuredly a point of pride for the Island, and dedicated are the ones who maintain it with such care, attention, and purpose.

Rosenberg Library

2310 Sealy

409.763.8854

http://www.rosenberg-library-org

Monday-Saturday 9am-6pm

GTHC Tuesday-Saturday 9am-6pm