End of an era

Torchy's Tacos closes original Austin location in 'bittersweet moment' for brand

Torchy's Tacos closes original Austin location in 'bittersweet moment'

Torchy's Tacos original South First location
Torchy's Tacos is shuttering its original location. Torchy's Tacos/Facebook

It’s the end of an era for one beloved Austin chain. After 11 years, Torchy’s Tacos is closing its original brick-and-mortar location at 2809 S. First St. on October 22.

Before locals jump to conclusions, CEO G.J. Hart assures in a release that the company is not in trouble, nor does it have any plans to abandon the Austin market. The growing company is instead shifting its focus to more accessible restaurants.

“This is a bittersweet moment, but a sign of continued growth for Torchy’s Tacos,” says Hart via a media statement. “I can assure you our roots aren’t leaving Austin and the culture and history of this first restaurant is carried forward in every location that we build.”

Opened in 2008, the South Austin storefront is a bit of a relic in the rapidly growing chain, which now has more than 60 locations nationwide. Its DIY aesthetic is a stark contrast to the retro-modern interiors the restaurant adopted in its contemporary stores.

But it does have a storied past. Not only was it the first permanent location after founder Mike Rypka made the jump from operating a food truck, it gained an international profile when President Barack Obama ordered a Democrat, Republican, and Independent taco during a visit to Austin for SXSW 2016.

According to the release, Torchy’s has offered jobs to all of the South First Street employees at other locations in the Austin area. It is also hanging on to the building, although it has not yet decided on its next use.

Meanwhile, the beloved Austin brand will continue its ambitious expansion roadmap. In 2019, Torchy’s debuted two outposts in the city limits, including its long-anticipated shop downtown. The release hinted that even more locations are on the horizon for 2020 and beyond.