Downtown dining

Downtown Austin park carves up plans for first-ever restaurant

Downtown Austin park carves up plans for first-ever restaurant

Salt & Time Cafe rendering
The new cafe should open later this year. Rendering courtesy of Republic Square Park

East Austin butcher shop and restaurant Salt & Time is carving up space for the first restaurant to ever be located in downtown Austin’s Republic Square.

Salt & Time Café is scheduled to open late this summer or early this fall at Republic Square, a park at Fourth and Guadalupe streets. The Downtown Austin Alliance, which operates and maintains Republic Square, and Salt & Time founder Ben Runkle are collaborating on the new eatery.

Runkle tells CultureMap the restaurant will occupy just 400 square feet of an existing building and finish-out of the space is underway. Indoor seating won’t be provided; rather, diners will chow down at outdoor spots around Republic Square.

“We’re thrilled to collaborate with Salt & Time to bring high-quality food and beverage options to those visiting Republic Square and to those passing through on their commute into and out of downtown,” Dewitt Peart, president and CEO of the Downtown Austin Alliance, said in a release. “It was important to us that this first-of-its-kind vendor be locally based and a strong representation of Austin’s thriving culinary community.”

Runkle and friend Bryan Butler launched the Salt & Time Butcher Shop and Salumeria on East Seventh Street in East Austin in 2013, three years after Runkle started selling dry-cured artisan meats from Texas to farmers markets in Austin and other customers around the state.

The new restaurant will operate seven days a week, and serve sandwiches, salads, breakfast bowls, and pastries, as well as Salt & Time’s highly praised charcuterie. Gluten-free and vegetarian options will also be available, along with coffee, juices, kombucha, and soda. And Salt & Time will be the first vendor to be permitted to sell beer and wine in Republic Square, which hosts the SFC Farmers' Market Downtown every Saturday.

The cafe will extend its hours on weekends and during special events.

Rent paid by Salt & Time Café will be reinvested in the park. Eric DeJernett of CBRE, who handled the restaurant lease, also donated his broker’s fees to Republic Square.

As for Runkle’s other buzzed about restaurant project at St. Elmo Public Market in South Austin, that's still in the works, with an expected opening in late 2019. “St. Elmo is plugging along, but there have been some slight delays with construction on the developer’s end,” Runkle says.