We like to call native Austinites "unicorns," but the truth is that a lot of us left, realized how great it is, and came back as soon as we could. Such is the case for Aaron Lyons, founder of Houston-based Dish Society, which is coming to Austin's Mueller development this fall.
Lyons has the full Austin resume, not only growing up here but attending the University of Texas at Austin for undergrad and returning to earn his MBA at the McCombs School of Business. There, he developed a business plan for his ultimate all-day café. The result was Dish Society, opened in Houston in 2014 with a goal to make fresh, locally-sourced dining more accessible.
Nine years later, the brand has grown to four locations in the Greater Houston area, two locations of an elevated sister brand, Daily Gather, and the incoming Austin concept. Located at 1900 Aldrich Blvd., #130, the outpost is set to open in fall 2023. True to the group's signature farm-to-table menus, the new location will serve brunch all day, lunch, social hour, and dinner; all are offered seven days a week via counter service or full-service at the bar.
Celebrated Houston chef Brandi Key leads the menu, which will shift seasonally while focusing on modern American favorites made from locally-sourced ingredients. In fact, 75 percent of the menu will come from Texas purveyors, with signature dishes like a smoked brisket-stuffed sweet potato, Brussels sprouts super salad, fried chicken and biscuits, shrimp and grits, and Nutella French toast. Vibrant seasonal grain bowls, salads, sandwiches, and signature sides round out the menu, along with the customizable farmer’s plate in a protein-and-two-sides format.
Local firm Chioco Design will design the space to echo the airy, modern atmosphere of the brand's Houston counterparts while incorporating custom local details. Features will include elements of exposed concrete, natural light, warm wood tones, mixed tilework, and lush greenery, plus a refresh of the brand's canary yellow for a more buttery hue and complementary dusty blue and white accents. Garage and street parking will be available with designated spots for curbside pickup, plus a walkup window for coffee and breakfast tacos.
"Austin is a natural second market for us,” says Lyons in a release. “It’s my hometown and that of my business partner Trent Patterson, who I met at UT. My family still lives in Austin, so I’m in town all the time. I also have a ton of friends who’ve been asking me to open here, so it’s really cool to come home.”
According to the release, Lyons intended to open in Austin a decade ago, and his restaurant group, Five 12 Restaurant Concepts, was named in tribute to Austin’s 512 area code. The Austin expansion marks a new era of growth for the brand, which plans to enter more Texas markets in the coming years, as well as a new location at Houston's William P. Hobby Airport in 2025.
“Ultimately, the demand for what we do, coupled with Austin’s amazing food scene and its growth and proximity to our existing infrastructure, all make sense for our next move. Our ability to successfully operate all day while providing chef-driven, locally sourced food, a thoughtfully crafted beverage program, and a level of hospitality and service not commonly found at our price point make us unique in many ways.”