Carl Guenther immigrated from Germany to the United States in 1848 at the age of 22. He tried to open a mill in the German community of Fredericksburg, but in 1859, he moved the mill to a more dependable water supply on the San Antonio River, a mile south of the Alamo.
Guenther's Pioneer Flour grew from one of the first mills in San Antonio to the largest family-owned flour mill in the U.S.
The Guenther home has been turned into a playground for adults, the centerpiece of which is the restaurant. The bright and cheery room is a favorite lunch spot for residents of the King William District on the other side of the river.
The restaurant's short but intriguing menu offers a variety of dishes using Pioneer Flour Mills products. Breakfast is the restaurant's specialty and is served all day. The waffles, pancakes, and pastries are works of art. The creamy white sauce on the Champagne Chicken Enchiladas is worth sopping up with the fluffy muffins and rolls that are served with each meal.
After a hearty meal inside or on the patio, take some time to explore the rest of the house. Since 1988, the three-story house has been open to the public. Many of the rooms preserve the furnishings of the Victorian era. The library has been turned into a museum with an antique cookie cutter collection and Guenther family memorabilia.
One of the company's early promotional campaigns was commemorative plates given to customers. From 1909 until 1924, the colorful plates also served as calendars. Made in Dresden, Germany, the plates were discontinued in 1939 at the outset of World War II.
The gift shop doesn't sell anniversary china, but they do offer unique items with a Texas or cooking theme. You can also purchase the many mixes and sauces produced by the flour company.
The Guenther House is south of downtown at 205 E. Guenther St. with parking at 1415 S. Alamo. The house is open Mon.-Sun., 9am-5pm. The restaurant serves breakfast 7am-3pm and lunch 11am-3pm, Mon.-Sat.; and breakfast on Sunday is 8am-2pm with lunch 10am-2pm. For more information, call 210/227-1061.
Coming up this weekend...
Fiesta Noche Del Rio offers live shows at San Antonio's Arneson River Theater, Thu.-Sat., thru Aug.31. 210/226-4651.
Zoobilee is a good time to visit Waco's Cameron Park Zoo and stay late to visit the extra vendors, art, and special activities, July 20. 817/741-0400.
Harvest Weekends begin at Messina Hof Wine Cellars in Bryan on Sat. & Sun., Jul. 20-Aug.18. The day includes grape picking, grape stomping, wine and food seminars, and an evening concert. Reservations required, fee. 409/778-9463.
Black-Eyed Pea Jamboree in Athens, "Black-Eyed Pea Capital of the World," honors the lucky legume with contests and cooking demonstrations, July 20-21. 800/755-7878.
Smokestack Lightning lecture and demonstration explores the fine art of barbecuing along with a cookoff and barbecue bib and chef's hat contest sponsored by the Orange Show Foundation in Houston, July 31. 713/926-6368.