A new chapter

Legendary East Austin restaurant ends 31-year run after sale to acclaimed local chef

East Austin restaurant ends 31-year run after sale to local chef

Eastside Cafe exterior
Eastside Cafe is calling it a day after 31 years in business. Eastside Cafe/Facebook

An East Austin institution is ending its 31-year run. Eastside Cafe owner Elaine Martin has announced that the long-running Manor Road restaurant will close on January 31.

According to a January 14 release, Martin has sold the property to acclaimed chef Sam Hellman-Mass, the owner of Suerte, and former partner at Barley Swine and Odd Duck. Hellman-Mass will continue to use the property as an owner-operated business with a commitment to local sourcing. No further details were revealed about the upcoming concept.

Eastside Cafe was originally founded by Martin and Dorsey Barger in 1988, and was one of the first restaurants to settle on the now booming Manor Road. It was also one of the first spots to embrace the farm-to-table movement, growing their own produce in an adjacent lot and embracing local sourcing long before the concept became an industry buzzword.

In November 2011, Barger parted ways with the eatery to open urban farm and guest house HausBar and Martin has been the sole proprietor since. Although the main dining room was freshened up over the years, and the building next door switched from kitchen shop Pitchforks & Tablespoons to Elaine’s Pork and Pie in 2012, the feel of the restaurant remained the same. Guests could always find mainstays like the Shiner Bock bacon meatloaf and baked brie with chutney on the menu.

“Serving the East Austin community is something that is incredibly close to my heart,” Martin said in the release. “As I close the doors of Eastside Cafe, I’m inspired by all the memories made, food served, and community encouraged in this house, and I’m excited to see the way Sam makes the space his own.”

The last day of business for the restaurant will be January 31, but the restaurant will live on in home kitchens throughout the city thanks to two cookbooks, available now on Eastside Cafe’s website.