Coffee break

San Antonio chain swoops in to replace closing South Austin coffee shop

San Antonio chain swoops in to replace closing Austin coffee shop

Merit Coffee ATX
Merit Coffee is pouring into the former location of Stonehouse Coffee + Bar. Merit Coffee

The historical cottage that houses Stonehouse Coffee + Bar is brewing up a new concept. After almost two years in business, Stonehouse closes this week, only to reopen days later on February 11 as a new Austin location of Merit Coffee.

FBR Management — the group behind The Wheel, Lala’s Little Nugget, and the nearby Gibson Street Bar — first opened Stonehouse in March 2017 in the Dawson Stone House, a 1900s building that had most recently been used by LoanStar Title Loans. The company did not offer a reason for getting out of the coffee business.

San Antonio-based Merit, however, is a relative newcomer to the Austin market, having debuted its first outpost in downtown’s Seaholm District in December 2017. The new shop is part of an ambitious expansion plan for the company, which includes two cafes opening in Dallas in the spring and a third promised location in the Capital City.

According to a release, the South Austin shop will be very similar to the six Alamo City cafes and the Seaholm outpost. Expect a wide variety of coffee and espresso drinks made from beans sourced from Merit’s roasting business, as well as pressed juices, tea, and hot chocolate.

The grab-and-go food menu will follow the Seaholm spot’s example as well. Tacos will be provided by Tacodeli and pastries will be sourced from another Alamo City favorite that recently made a move into Austin — Bakery Lorraine.

Although Stonehouse may be going away, fans going to the new Merit won’t find too radical of a departure. The chain’s interior aesthetic is light-filled and minimalist, right at home with Michael Hsu Office of Architecture’s 2017 rework. And regulars will see the same familiar faces behind the counter as well.

“Our whole team is collaborating with the current staff to train, bring in new equipment, and litter the place with Merit soul, said cofounder Robby Grubbs in a release. “We love how neighborhood-y and warm this location is, and are so excited to deliver great coffee and great service to the ‘04.”