Second Bar + Kitchen joins Downtown Mineral Wells dining scene

By David ArkinNovember 28, 2023No Comments
Second Bar + Kitchen’s cuisine is “seasonally driven, locally inspired … scratch cooking,” David Bull, executive chef, says. Offerings include braised beef short ribs, Brisket + Burrata and Pork Cracklin’s appetizers and a Pecan Crunch Bar dessert of salted caramel, candied pecans and vanilla wafers.

Second Bar + Kitchen joins Downtown Mineral Wells dining scene

By Scott Nishimura
Photo by Scott Nishimura

Downtown Mineral Wells is about to score another tenant in its nascent revitalization.

Second Bar + Kitchen — the fifth location of the casual upscale original in Austin — is opening at The Crazy Water Hotel, helmed by David Bull, executive chef and director of food and beverage at the hotel for La Corsha Hospitality Group, the property’s management group. 

La Corsha, also the manager of the historic Baker Hotel, under restoration by another ownership group in downtown Mineral Wells, expects to open the Second Bar as early as late October. Bull, whose resume includes stops at The Driskill in Austin and Rosewood Mansion on Turtle Creek in Dallas, is bringing familiar hearty and healthy takes to the Mineral Wells restaurant, ranging from braised short ribs to “farm to market salads” and the Brisket + Burrata appetizer.

“It’s just good scratch cooking,” Bull, who characterizes the concept as “seasonally driven, locally inspired,” said in an interview at the restaurant in early October. “We’re not pretentious.”

The restaurant’s bar menu includes a mix of cocktails and mocktails, a nod to Mineral Wells’ history in the healing properties of mineral waters that drew such notable visitors as Clark Gable and Judy Garland and triggered a buildup of bathhouses, drinking spots and spas. The Texas Legislature earlier this year named Mineral Wells the “Wellness Capital of Texas.”

“It’s just the heart and soul of wellness that’s been part of our DNA for a long time,” Bull said of Second Bar’s offerings of zero-proof cocktails.

The Crazy Water, which opened in 1927 and moved through iterations including an assisted living community, was restored and reopened by its current owners in 2021 as a hotel with 64 rooms and a limited number of apartments for rent. The Second Bar is the owners’ first phase of expansion. A basement spa, including women’s and men’s facilities, a sauna, seven treatment rooms, co-ed soaking, a fitness center and a cafe, is the planned second phase.

“We’re tapping into the mineral waters” through the well beneath the hotel, Rebecca Eivens, the hotel’s director of spa and wellness, said. “It’s about a year out.”

A planned third phase includes a basement speak-easy.

The Crazy Water’s owners and management view Mineral Wells as an easy regional getaway, an appealing meeting location, and a nostalgic spot for events like weddings. At the same time La Corsha is expanding The Crazy Water’s offerings, it’s also preparing food and beverage concepts for The Baker Hotel, slated to open in 2026.

La Corsha will run two restaurants and three bars in The Baker Hotel, Bull said. That includes fine dining in the Brazos Club.

“Our intent is to turn that into a really cool, historically inspired steakhouse, with martini carts, cheese carts,” Bull said.

A second restaurant will be casual. The bar lineup will include places to sip a cocktail in the lobby and by the pool. The hotel will have 167 guest rooms, including 23 suites.

Mark Rawlings, one of six general partners in the Baker project, said the restoration budget will likely top nine figures.

“The budget’s not quite at $100 million, but it’ll probably finish close to that,” Rawlings said in October. The owners paid $2.2 million to buy the property. “It was a bargain to buy it.”

The owners qualify to receive as much as 45% of eligible project costs back, under state and federal tax credits, Rawlings said. Mineral Wells also kicked in a generous incentive. “That’s the only way these things make sense,” Rawlings said.

The owners, who also recruited some limited partners, are working on closing on a loan to narrow the funding gap, Rawlings said. Once that’s done, the owners will have completed their financing, he said.