If at first you don’t succeed, try something completely different. At least that’s the lesson Austin restaurateurs seem to have learned as the dining scene becomes increasingly crowded. Instead of trying to fill seats with new promotions and menu items, restaurants like Gardner (now Chicon) and Juliet Ristorante (now Juliet Italian Kitchen) have chosen to retool with entirely new concepts.
The latest to get makeover bug is Flour & Vine. Bar manager Jacob Hinojosa told CultureMap that the South Austin eatery will close after brunch service May 6. But the doors won't be locked for long. On May 11, the team will begin the soft-opening phase of a new concept, Barile.
Flour & Vine first opened in 2013 in the former home of Hugo’s Restaurant y Tequila Bar in the bottom floor of the Cole apartment building at 300 S. Lamar Blvd. Austin was then in the throes of Prohibition mania (see Péché, East Side Show Room, Midnight Cowboy), and although New American comfort food with vague Mediterranean influences was on the plate, the rest of the operation went full flapper.
The bar program focused on classic cocktails as much as wine, dining was frequently accompanied by live piano music, and the (singing) servers wore fringed dresses with long beads. The effect was very "Le Jazz Hot."
Over the years, the restaurant dropped the costumes and tinkered with the menu, increasingly favoring Italian-inspired dishes like eggplant rollatini and risotto. In 2017, chef Vangel Bylyku acquired the restaurant, remodeling the patio, upgrading the wine list, and introducing new programming like music nights.
Barile will continue in that vein. Hinojosa says the rebranding reflects a shift to coastal and southern Italian cuisine (Barile is a town in the Italian region of Basilicata). The menu focuses on house made pasta and seafood. Cheese boards and flatbread will also be available for snacks.
The bar will also undergo a few minor adjustments. Wine and mezcal flights will be available and Texas liquors and beer will play a strong role. The bar will also extend its hours to midnight on Fridays and Saturdays and introduce daily happy hours.
On May 18, Barile will officially have its grand opening. To celebrate, Hinojosa says the restaurant will offer live entertainment, complimentary snacks, and extra drink specials throughout the month.