KISS frontman to serve up craft beer, national anthem at Spurs game

By Hector Saldana / San Antonio Express

A bona fide rock god will be singing “The Star-Spangled Banner” and touting craft suds Friday at the AT&T Center.

Paul Stanley, the Starchild of the legendary rock act Kiss, will be at center court before the Spurs play the Los Angeles Lakers. He’ll be in town for the grand opening of Rock & Brews, the new classic rock-themed restaurant and craft beer pub at the renovated arena. Stanley and bandmate Gene Simmons are among the cofounders of the venture launched in 2012.

This is the first Rock & Brews at a sports arena, and the Spurs want that fact shouted out loud.

Rick Pych, Spurs Sports & Entertainment president of business operations, said the organization is honored to have the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer in the house.

“Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley have utilized the same passion and enthusiasm that made Kiss a rock legend to create a fantastic restaurant experience,” Pych said.

Bill Summersett, a San Antonio native and Kiss memorabilia collector who for decades was a diehard member of the Kiss Army, said the family restaurant will be a hit.

“I’m sure it’s gonna draw a ton of people,” said Summersett, who has been to more than 30 Kiss concerts. He has caught guitars Stanley broke and threw off stage, and he has owned items such as a Kiss pinball machine, Kiss condoms and Kiss comic books printed with red ink that included the group members’ blood.

“Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons are marketing geniuses. There’s nothing they haven’t made,” Summersett said.

Rock & Brews combines Stanley’s love of cooking, local produce and classic rock. Away from Kiss, he plays with the soul and R&B revue Soul Station.

Stanley recently talked by phone about craft beer, culinary possibilities and being grateful for rock ’n’ roll.

Did you ever imagine the rise of craft beer culture?

Beer has become the new wine. Beer is crafted, at this point, by people who understand notes and where it hits you on the palate. The care that’s put into it has been a long time coming. It’s very interesting to see beer go beyond something that you guzzle at a sports event or that you drink for a buzz.

Which is trendier, rock ’n’ roll or food?

One doesn’t rule the other. Rock ’n’ roll is essential. The foundation of Rock & Brews certainly is a love of classic rock. But then that foundation is used to build something very unique, almost a lifestyle, where people can enjoy great beer, great food, and I don’t mean franchise slop. (It’s) a food experience where if you want to bring your children out for the day, you don’t have to eat cardboard pizza served by somebody dressed as a rat.

What’s your favorite Rock & Brews craft beer?

I love a rich, dark lager. But we have samplers where there are multiple glasses and it’s great to sample in the same way you might sample different wines.

How about the food?

I think the fish tacos are awesome. The burgers are off the charts. We have pretzels. Everybody is used to soft pretzels. But our pretzel dough comes in from Germany. We have a beer cheese that’s awesome to dip in.

No orange cheese nachos?

There’s nothing wrong with that. We’ve all sat at games and had that cheese food product. God only knows what it is. Why not enjoy something that’s really, really good? Once you elevate your taste buds a bit there’s no going back.

Why are you so active in the promotion?

I don’t believe in putting my name on anything I don’t believe in.

What about the national anthem?

I did it at Dodger games. I starred in “Phantom of the Opera.” So I consider myself a singer that sings rock as opposed to a rock singer. “The Star-Spangled Banner” is a real interesting one in that people tend to obliterate it when they do it and turn it into a showcase for vocal gymnastics instead of singing it as it was written. If you’re looking for showboating, you’re not going to hear it. The anthem should be sung with respect.


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