Less than a week after South Austin cocktail bar Backbeat mixed its final drink, we now know what will happen to the prime South Austin space. On June 14, neighbor Ramen Tatsu-Ya announced plans to take over the location with a new tiki bar called, appropriately, Tiki Tatsu-Ya.
According to a release, plans for a tiki bar are almost as old as the idea for the ramen shop. The concept was the brainchild of Shion Aikawa, brother of Ramen Tatsu-Ya chef and owner Tatsu Aikawa. Although Tatsu originally asked Shion “What the hell is a tiki bar?” upon hearing the idea, the ball started rolling not long after the first Ramen Tatsu-Ya opened.
The team even went so far as signing a month-to-month lease at 1701 E. Cesar Chavez St., the present-day site of Mission Dogs, but the preparations for opening a second South Lamar location kept them from realizing their tiki-filled dreams.
When the space at 1300 S. Lamar Blvd. became available, the team jumped. “I’ve always wanted to do a bar next to a Ramen Tatsu-Ya,” said Tatsu in the release. “And with the recent closure of Backbeat, which shares a wall with Ramen Tatsu-Ya on South Lamar, the opportunity to fulfill two dreams became a reality.”
The new bar will offer house versions of classic tiki cocktails, plus a few original creations with Japanese influences. A food menu will riff off Polynesian cuisine.
“My travels and explorations into tiki culture revealed the deep mixing of Asian and Japanese influences brought to Hawaii through immigration, which contributed to the overall flavors of the islands. We want to maintain the authenticity of tiki culture but with a Tatsu-Ya take on it,” said Tatsu.
Joining the brothers will be well-known barman Aaron Reed, formerly of Volstead and Hotel Vegas; Michael Philips, the beverage director for the Tatsu-Ya family of restaurants; and Bryan Masamitsu Parsons, the groups sake and shochu sommelier.
For the interior, the owners will once again be working with McCray and Co., who designed both Ramen Tatsu-Ya locations and Kemuri Tatsu-Ya. Although the design is promised to be a “paradise of escapism,” judging by the firm’s previous work, we don’t expect tiki kitsch.
In addition to the new bar, which should open in late 2018, the busy Tatsu-Ya team is also working on two other projects, a third location of the flagship restaurant in the former home of Qui on East Sixth Street and another concept, possibly called Dip Dip Dip Tatsu-Ya, at 7301 Burnet Rd.