Shutter report

Central Austin suffers loss as popular cafe quietly closes

Central Austin suffers loss as popular cafe quietly closes

Cafe Express salad
Cafe Express has closed its only Austin location. Photo courtesy of Cafe Express

A Central Austin restaurant has folded up its tent: Cafe Express, which occupied a prime position at 3418 N. Lamar Blvd., has closed.

A representative from the company confirmed the closure, adding that the final day was September 28. The location has been removed from the company website.

The Austin Cafe Express had been open for eight years, when it replaced La Madeleine as a popular lunch and meeting spot near Seton Medical Center and doctors' offices along Medical Parkway.

The wave of shutters affected two other Texas locations — one in Houston and another in Mockingbird Station in Dallas, which has served as a foundation of the landmark center ever since it opened in 2001.

The move was part of a re-branding effort by the chain. In a statement, Cafe Express COO Bobby Jaramillo said the closures “allow us to focus on our performing restaurants and we have engaged a firm to help us with this restructure."

The chain was recently acquired by new owner in M. Terry Enterprises, who relocated the headquarters from Houston to Dallas, from which it operates about a dozen locations in Dallas and Houston.

The company was founded by Houston chef Robert del Grande and restaurateur (and CultureMap co-founder) Lonnie Schiller, and was an early fast-casual concept at a time when fast-casual was still new. Over the years, it changed hands twice: Wendy's bought the concept, and it was then acquired by Houston real estate company Redstone.

Although the company still maintains a strong presence in Houston and has two remaining Dallas stores, the Lamar Boulevard location was the only location in Central Texas.