Goodbye for now

Z’Tejas prepares to shutter original downtown Austin location as it faces the wrecking ball

Z’Tejas prepares to shut down original downtown Austin location

Z'Tejas Grill sign
A West Sixth Street fixture for 33 years, Z'Tejas will close by next March to make way for a new real estate development. Z'Tejas

The original Z’Tejas Southwestern Grill, a fixture on West Sixth Street for 33 years, is on track to close by next March to make way for a new real estate development.

Z’Tejas co-owner Randy Cohen confirmed the impending closure after announcing it in a Facebook post on July 5. He says the iconic Southwestern restaurant, housed in two attached decades-old structures, will be shuttered sometime between December 31 and March 31.

“Everybody kind of knew it was coming,” Cohen says. “[We] don’t own the dirt. So when you don’t own the dirt, you don’t have control.”

The owner of the Z’Tejas property, Larry McGuire of Austin’s McGuire Moorman Lambert Hospitality, plans to tear down the Z’Tejas structure, according to Cohen. It’s not known yet what will be built in its place. A representative of the hospitality group couldn’t be reached for comment.

Another restaurant could occupy the site, as McGuire Moorman Lambert owns and operates more than 15 eateries in the Austin area. They include Elizabeth Street Café, Jeffrey’s Restaurant & Bar, Lamberts Downtown Barbecue, Perla’s Oyster Bar, and Swedish Hill.

Cohen says Austin-based Z’Tejas is now seeking a new spot in or around downtown Austin for the soon-to-be-displaced restaurant, which opened in 1989.

“We’d love to still be downtown,” Cohen says.

The planned shutdown of the West Sixth location “touches the heart a little bit,” Cohen says, as it’s been the site of numerous first dates, marriage proposals, birthday dinners, and other special occasions.

Z’Tejas operates one other restaurant in Austin; the Avery Ranch location opened in May. A new Z’Tejas is set to debut in Kyle around the time that the West Sixth location closes, Cohen says. Z’Tejas also operates two locations in the Phoenix area, with a third location in the works there.

In 2018, a new ownership group including Cohen bought four Z’Tejas restaurants out of bankruptcy. Among those restaurants were the West Sixth location and the now-shuttered location in the Arboretum.

Under new ownership, Z’Tejas has made several changes, such as revamping the menu, sprucing up restaurant interiors, and adding live music.

“The food’s amazing — even better than it ever was,” Cohen says.

In 2017, the previous owner closed the Z’Tejas location at Avery Ranch, along with three locations in Arizona. Those closures came amid the second of two Z’Tejas bankruptcy cases.