An already depressed Austin restaurant scene received another blow on January 28 with the closure of yet another long-running eatery. Rosedale’s Blue Star Kitchen + Bar is closing after 13 years.
The culprit is a frequent bugbear of the Capital City’s culinary community — rising costs. “Wilder Properties, who owns the shopping center, wanted to raise the rent over 20 percent, not including the property taxes that have over tripled over the last 13 years,” explains owner Eddie Bernal in a release “This makes it challenging to work together to keep our restaurant open, and the other tenants are facing the same issues.”
Bernal’s The Whole Enchilada Restaurant Group first opened the restaurant in 2006 as Blue Star Cafeteria (it rebranded in 2015) after snagging the former location of Parallel Modern Market at 4800 Burnet Rd.
At the time, the concept was unique to the area. Serving comfort food staples like meatloaf and cobbler in a hip contemporary setting, it was an all-day restaurant before the phrase became an industry marketing buzzword.
Since then, the owner says, the landscape has shifted dramatically. “Local restaurateurs are not only juggling rent and taxes, but also labor shortages, added city policies, chain restaurant competition, and higher food costs,” said Bernal. "Landlords, property taxes, and property management companies are squeezing out the loyal and dedicated locals to basically get more rent as Austin changes.”
Although the brick-and-mortar version of Blue Star is now closed, the menu items will be available through the company’s catering operations. Bernal has not ruled out reviving the brand should he find a viable space.
The other eateries under Whole Enchilada’s umbrella — Santa Rita Tex Mex Cantina, Gusto Italian Restaurant + Wine Bar, and 34th Street Cafe — will be unaffected by the shutter.