After closing its original Cesar Chavez location in 2021, Bufalina is back in the East Austin neighborhood once again.
The beloved pizza restaurant left its original digs after its 10-year lease expired due to new development; now, the neighborhood spot will open again, just down the road at 2215 Cesar Chavez. The move was always part of the plan, Bufalina owner Steven Dilley told CultureMap, even if it took a little longer to make it a reality.
“COVID actually delayed the signing of the lease,” says Dilley, who was ready to sign back in March 2020. “We ended up sitting on that until September 2020, which did put us back about six months, but since then it’s been okay.”
Dilley closed on the new space in March 2021, with construction starting in June 2021. Once construction began, the pandemic continued to bring new hurdles, with one entire crew falling ill in the omicron surge at the tail end of 2021, postponing their hopes to open by early 2022.
But Dilley remains largely unfazed: “It’s been a grind, which is not too unusual. Now that we are nearing the finish line, there’s a renewed sense of excitement to get the doors open.”
The new space is a former laundromat, sharing an owner with the nearby Greydot gallery.
“They wanted to keep the building intact and not put a new development in,” Dilley says. “They wanted an independent business, and they knew us down the street for the last decade … I’m so excited this cool building will have a similar feel to our original location.”
Dilley is particularly excited about being back in the neighborhood where Bufalina first got its start.
“We have so many regulars who live down there, and they’ve definitely made the effort to come visit the Burnet location, but reconnecting with the old clientele is super exciting.”
Equally exciting is Bufalina’s new chef, Grae Nonas, who Dilley first met while Nonas was working to open Olamaie with Michael Fojtasek back in 2013. After throwing around different collaborations in the past, Dilley and Nonas started talking about Bufalina’s new spot in the fall of 2021, and it seemed like a good fit.
“I am beyond excited to have Grae on board as chef down there,” says Dilley. “I’m super happy to work with him and see what he’s coming up with. With the delays, his opening menu keeps changing, but whatever it is I’m confident it will be amazing.”
Beyond returning to the old neighborhood with a new chef, Dilley also notes excitement about the new spot’s accessibility. While Cesar Chavez is becoming an increasingly tricky area for parking, the new location will have parking on two sides, plus plenty of street parking nearby.
But most of all, Dilley is just excited to get the doors open, which should be in mid-July.
“There’s this certain feeling with a long buildout where, as you near the end, you feel like you’re ending a project when in reality you haven’t even started,” Dilley laughs. “I’m really excited to get our wine program back in order and see what Grae has lined up.”