Raymond Lunsford and his wife Lisa have quite the footprint on Main Street of Boerne. Though you might not know their name, they are owners of several buildings, as well as the famous Dienger Building in Boerne. They have taken a passion for this town and developed one of the area’s most widely known destination – all while retaining the history within.
The Lunsfords, who can boast of some hugely successful local businesses, had a rockier start than you might imagine in business in Boerne. Raymond begins, “We bought the Mexican restaurant (where Texas Meat Co was) 7 years ago and I told Lisa that we should buy it because it couldn’t be that hard.” He laughs,” I couldn’t be more wrong. We also bought the Hitchin Post Liquor shop, and Boerne told us that they wanted a shoe shop. So the two of us, with zero retail experience, opened a retail shop beside our new restaurant that we had no experience running!”
Desiring to get to the more central downtown district, the Lunsfords eventually put in an offer on the Dienger Building, and the deal was closed within the month. He continues, “We bought it in ’14 at the end of September. Two weeks later, a lady walked into our café back up at Main Street Café, and was volunteering for a nonprofit looking for office space. I said ‘Well, let me show you this old building we just bought’. It was dirty and white and a shell and had been vacant for 4 years. The next day we asked her to go to work for us, and I didn’t know it but she had been dreaming of what she could do to this building, and that’s how Michelle Ernst came to be with us, who has since become an actual partner in our businesses.”
As the new owners of the Dienger, the group set out to begin its rebirth. “The contractors that we had were people that had helped us with the other buildings in town, and they knew a guy that restored old buildings. Once we began to see how intense the history was with the building, it became a passion for all of us involved. We went and found old articles about the Dienger so that we could see what it used to be and how it looked. We didn’t know originally that the Dienger is to Boerne what the Alamo is to San Antonio. It’s just such a treasured piece of history.”
Putting in the Bistro as well as all the retail space was no small task, and the remodeling necessary to accomplish this was intense. Raymond explains, “We had to make a commercial kitchen so we took their current break room and made it a kitchen and had to add more space. The bakery business was the same as well and required another kitchen. There was one wall that kept you from the bistro into the next little room, I think it was the boardroom for the library, and that whole wall had to come out. Upstairs was one big office and 5 little offices. We had to tear all the walls out and the big office was full of huge oak bookshelves, and we used the wood to make the columns up there. It created such a grand space up there and it’s beautiful.”
It’s so beautiful in fact, that they are now promoting small wedding events in the upstairs area for functions and meals. So far the response has been tremendous and has really been off to a great start. Armed with the massive retail space, offering everything from men’s items to candles, the bakery, the small bistro, coffee shop, and now wedding space, the Dienger has come a long way, but so have the Lunsfords. While they would admit they struggled with their first attempts at small business in Boerne, they have since excelled. Raymond finishes, “What brought things full circle for us? The building itself is what brought things full circle for us. The building is a draw. The history is a draw. People thank me all the time for restoring the building and turning it into what is, and people say THANK YOU all the time and I didn’t really realize what the building meant to this community until we got into this project. I had no idea what I was doing, but the Good Lord did. He put this together for the community, and I really believe that. No smart businessman would have done what I did, and without His influence, none of this would have come together. If I hadn’t been standing at the front door the day that Michelle walked in, I probably would have never met her and she has been critical for us as well.”
The Dienger Trading Co.
210 N Main St., Boerne, TX 78006