This past year may have been a brutal one for shutters in Austin, but hope springs eternal in the hospitality world, and a new crop is ready to gobble up the empty real estate. Early this year, Austin diners can look forward to a new taco joint from a celebrated San Antonio chef, new projects from established Austin names, and local favorites expanding into new neighborhoods.
Bethany Andrée and Karl Gilkey are bringing back their much-missed South Congress Avenue diner Bobo’s Snack Bar to Airport Boulevard sometime in early 2019. Although the menu will feature internationally inspired dishes, the couple envision the new incarnation as a neighborhood watering hole. “Think bar first, snacks second,” Andrée told CultureMap when she first announced in June 2018, explaining that many of the menu items would be sourced from local chefs.
Superstar San Antonio chef Jason Dady is taking over the Fado’s Irish Pub space at 214 W. Fourth St. with Chispas, his first foray into the Austin market. The Warehouse District eatery will feature unfussy tacos, housemade tortillas, and fresh margaritas. The original target date was fall 2018, but a December Facebook post now says early 2019.
In October 2018, Counter Cafe owner Debbie Davis signed a 20-year lease to bring a third location of her beloved cafe to the once home of Conan’s Pizza at 603 W. 29th St. The move was partly out of necessity. The building housing the original Lamar location is up for sale, and Davis wants to continue to serve Central Austin. The new outpost hopes to be slinging breakfast and lunch — and cocktails from a full bar — in the spring.
The popular pizzeria East Side Pies will have a busy 2019 with the openings of new locations at 13265 US-183 and Austin-Bergstrom International Airport. The pie slingers are also redoing the former Trailer Space Record Shop at 1409 Rosewood Ave. to create a brand-new concept called East Side Pies Market, featuring a large patio and a menu of coffee, pastries, and beer.
Èpicerie chef Sarah McIntosh is putting an artsy spin on her Rosedale cafe by opening a second outpost in The Contemporary Austin’s renovated Laguna Gloria compound. The sunny sequel will offer favorites from the original menu, plus an array of new dishes exclusive to the location. Spring is the current target for the kickoff.
Kevin Fink, Page Pressley, and Tavel Bristol-Joseph, the team behind Rainey Street’s acclaimed Emmer & Rye, are trying out a unique service model for their latest restaurant, Hestia, coming to 208 Nueces St. in early 2019. The kitchen staff will play double duty as servers, taking orders and delivering food to soften the lines between cooks and customers. The menu has yet to be revealed, but the architects' renderings — not to mention the restaurant’s namesake, the Greek Goddess of the hearth — point to a heavy use of open fire.
Local institution Kerbey Lane Cafe is branching out from gingerbread pancakes to open High Note, an all-new concept at 300 S. Lamar Blvd. Although the company is still keeping most of the details mum (the Facebook page currently has no posts), it will feature healthy fare from former Vox Table chef Joe Anguiano. Early 2019 is the estimated date.
The last of the Line Austin hotels four concepts, P6, was supposed to introduce itself to Austin by fall 2018. Since the initial announcement, original chef Damien Brockway parted ways with the project and further updates on the concept have been slow. The space is currently being used for private events and the website claims that it will open to the general public in March.
La Corsha Hospitality Group, the owners of Second Bar + Kitchen, Boiler Nine, and Mattie’s at Green Pastures, has booked February as the date for its stylish East Austin Hotel, which features three bar and restaurant projects. The flagship will be Sixth and Waller, an all-day spot featuring global comfort foods like pastrami and eggs with horseradish and a chicken fried steak sandwich. The Upside bar will boast an adventurous cocktail menu from veteran barman Jason Stevens and a patio overlooking East Sixth Street. Finally, Pool Bar will make a splash with new takes on classic resort drinks.
Austin powerhouse McGuire Moorman Hospitality purchased Clarksville icon Sweetish Hill Bakery in August 2018 with plans for a slight name change and a plan to open by the holidays. Swedish Hill Bakery Cafe & Deli didn’t quite make the first deadline, but while front house renovations are being completed, the cafe is hosting a series of Saturday bake sales in the back of of the building featuring croissants, breads, cookies, and bagels from baking director Alex Manley and pastry director Jenn Tucker. Spring 2019 is the new anticipated opening date.
The Ramen Tatsu-Ya team is putting their stamp on Austin’s tropical trend with new bar Tiki Tatsu-Ya, located next door to their South Austin shop at 1300 S. Lamar Blvd. The concept will feature both classic and new tiki cocktails and a menu riffing off Polynesian cuisine. A rep tells CultureMap that the opening date is still up in the air, but it is looking like early spring.
Via 313 brothers Zane and Brandon Hunt, Juniper chef and owner Nicolas Yanes, and Nickel City partner Travis Tober promise a January debut of their casual Italian joint, Uncle Nicky’s, located in the former home of Dolce Vita Gelato & Espresso at 4222 Duval St. The easygoing food offerings will include sandwiches, pasta, and salads, and a full cocktail program will keep the good life flowing.
Along with death and taxes, the only thing Austinites can count on is restaurant delays. Ways & Means Oyster House, the first Texas location of a popular Southern California chain, initially was aiming for a fall 2018 opening when it announced it was moving into the Annie’s Cafe & Bar space at 319 Congress Ave. The company’s website now says the restaurant will arrive spring 2019.