CULINARY CLOSURE

Classic New American restaurant permanently closes in downtown Austin

Classic New American restaurant permanently closes in downtown Austin

Second Bar + Kitchen Congress
Second Bar + Kitchen closes its downtown location.  Photo by Chelsea Martin

Update, November 18: This story has been updated to include comments from La Corsha Hospitality Group.

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Another downtown favorite is gone. After a decade of serving up elevated New American fare, Second Bar + Kitchen has closed its downtown location at 200 Congress Ave. because of an inability to renew its lease.

“The impact from the pandemic in 2020 and the uncertainty of the recovery timetable for 2021 was the cause of the closure," says Jeff Trigger, president of La Corsha Hospitality Group, which manages the restaurant concept. "Our 10-year lease required a commitment in July 2020, six months before lease expiration. At the time, we were concurrently working through other pandemic-related issues with the landlord. This began a long process. At the end of the day, it was the unpredictability of the economic-recovery timeline for downtown Austin that drove our final decision not to renew."    

Second Bar + Kitchen originally opened its downtown location in 2010. Award-winning executive chef David Bull — now La Corsha’s regional vice president of food and beverage — led the kitchen for both Second and neighboring Congress, emphasizing local artisanal products and a farm-to-table dining experience.

Second quickly became popular with tourists and downtown diners alike. In 2015, the restaurant expanded its footprint after fine-dining restaurant Congress shuttered and Second took over the space.

Second Bar + Kitchen closed temporarily early in the pandemic because of COVID-19 restrictions, with its website claiming it would take a “pandemic pause.”

“We look forward to welcoming you back downtown when the impact from the COVID-19 virus indicates that it is time to reopen the doors at our original Second Street and Congress Avenue location.”

Much of the location’s kitchen equipment and furniture is now up for sale through online auction website restaurantequipment.bid.

While Second Bar + Kitchen’s other locations at Domain Northside and Austin-Bergstrom International Airport have continued to remain open during the pandemic, with Trigger noting those locations are doing "reasonably well," the lease issue seems to have doomed the downtown spot.

The Second Bar + Kitchen closure is the latest La Corsha concept to shutter. In February 2019, Trigger announced the company’s Boiler Nine Bar + Grill in the Seaholm District was closing after less than three years because of unpaid management fees from owners Boiler Nine Partners Ltd.