Congress Closes

Austin's Restaurant Congress unexpectedly closes after 5 years of fine dining

Austin's Restaurant Congress unexpectedly closes after 5 years

Restaurant Congress salmon belly dish
Restaurant Congress' last day of service is December 31. Congress Austin/Facebook
Chef David Bull
Chef David Bull will eventually transition to executive chef at east side's Archer Hotel. Photo by Jody Horton
Second Bar and Kitchen interior
Second Bar + Kitchen is expanding into Restaurant Congress' space. Photo by Casey Dunn
Restaurant Congress salmon belly dish
Chef David Bull
Second Bar and Kitchen interior

As Austin's dining scene continues to fluctuate, we experience a constant barrage of news on openings and closings. Today's bad news comes with a side of good news: Restaurant Congress is closing January 1, 2016 to make way for the expansion of neighboring Second Bar + Kitchen.

Both restaurants come from Chef David Bull and the La Corsha Hospitality Group. The decision to close Restaurant Congress and focus on Second Bar + Kitchen in the downtown space is an effort "to satisfy a growing demand for the casual dining concept." While the former was lauded for its exquisite cuisine and upscale atmosphere, the latter drew a steadier crowd night after night.

"It's bittersweet to say goodbye to Congress; we have had an incredible five years," said Bull in a release announcing the news. "We have celebrated many special occasions, nurtured many culinary careers, and supported our local farmers and vendors. We look forward to continuing the tradition of exceptional food and wine experiences through a different voice and in more locations."

The news of Restaurant Congress closing does not affect the opening of Boiler Nine Bar + Grill, the hotly anticipated restaurant from La Corsha in the blossoming Seaholm development. This high-end concept with locally sourced food and top-notch cocktails is expected to open in early 2016.

Also on the horizon for La Corsha are two more Second Bar + Kitchen locations — one in Austin-Bergstrom International Airport and the other in Archer Hotel at The Domain. Bull will assist with the expansion but will eventually transition to executive chef of Archer Hotel, while Ethan Holmes will step in at Second Bar + Kitchen's expanding downtown locale.

Restaurant Congress will stay open for New Year's Eve service. To book a reservation, head to the restaurant's website.

A remodel of the Restaurant Congress space to make way for the larger Second Bar + Kitchen is expected to wrap up in spring 2016.