Well, that didn’t take long. Since longtime downtown favorite Annies Cafe & Bar announced it was closing April 22, Austin foodies have been reading the tea leaves to see what would take its place. Now we have the answer: popular Southern California eatery Ways & Means Oyster House.
The acclaimed mini-chain announced on May 9 that they would be renovating the historic site into a monster 4,853-square-foot restaurant set to open in November. The concept already has two locations on the West Coast, and two more are slated to open in the coming months. The 319 Congress Ave. eatery will be its first foray into Texas.
As the name implies, seafood is the star of the show. Although the Austin menu has not yet been released, the Huntington Beach, California, and Portland, Oregon, menus showcase an expansive raw bar and oceanic offerings like lobster bisque, cioppino, fish and chips, lobster mac ’n’ cheese, and crab cakes. It even have has its own brand of oysters.
In addition to the more seaworthy fare, the restaurant also offers comfort foods like sliders, steak frites, wings, and a few vegetarian dishes. A brunch featuring omelets, breakfast sandwiches, and chocolate chip pancakes is also available.
To make the bar program unique, Ways & Means works with notable brands to create private label products, including wines with California-based TateDog, beers with Santa Monica Brewing Co., and a 24-year-aged rum with Papa’s Pilar Rum. In addition, the restaurant worked with young entrepreneur Julen Ucar to create two flavors of Ausome Sauce marinades to benefit Autism charities.
Although the eatery is not based in Austin, they plan to become part of the local community. “We give back to local charities, partner with the local first responders, listen to our regulars’ feedback and become a part of the community’s DNA,” said Ways and Means co-founder Dena Mathe in a release. “We plan to continue this philosophy with our new restaurant in Austin and look forward to learning from and growing with our neighbors.”