Chef Johnny Hernandez Turns His Home Into an Art-filled Wonderland
The historic building, a former factory and metal shop, is filled with Mexican art and whimsical touches.
Chef Johnny Hernandez outside the grand front doors of his home. He works with many artisans in Mexico for the pieces found in his home and restaurants. He commissioned these wooden doors to be made by Don Eduardo Velasquez, who lives in Puebla, Mexico.Photograph by Kate Zimmerman
The three-story brick building on a corner in San Antonio’s Southside neighborhood tends to stop passersby in their tracks. The faded painted sign out front reads “Voss Metal,” a reminder of the structure’s 135-year-old history as a metal shop; it also served as the former headquarters for Lone Star Seed Co. and as a shoe factory. Behind the massive and elaborately carved set of wooden doors is celebrity San Antonio chef Johnny Hernandez’s personal home. The more than 12,000-square-foot factory-style residence that holds court on the corner of a full city block the chef owns is the crown jewel of the special property. Hernandez, who bought it in 2012, has been gradually renovating it, filling it with his many Mexican art pieces and artifacts, and adding more of his own touches, like a garden, a pond filled with koi imported from Japan, and the transformation of the historic basement into a wine cellar and tequila tasting room. The visionary behind La Gloria (where he will celebrate Cinco de Mayo), the new Burgerteca, and more than a dozen other San Antonio restaurants (he spent Cinco de Mayo two years ago cooking tres leches and pineapple empanadas for President Barack Obama at the White House), gave us a tour through his historic abode, which is full of unexpected surprises.