New Austin concept makes over ex-Contigo space with help from top chef and original founders
The closure of Contigo and its popular patio was a knife in many Austinites' hearts, and the site has been unsettled ever since. Despite a brief makeover by the Tatsu-ya Group for a short-lived barbecue ramen concept, it was empty once again. Now another major Austin group is stepping in with more transformative plans.
MaieB Hospitality, which revolves around the achievements of Chef Michael Fojtasek's — Olamaie, Little Ola’s Biscuits, Maie Day, and Gimme Burger — has shared a glimpse into what the space may look like as Redbud Ice House, starting in spring of 2024.
In this effort, Fojtasek is joined by MaieB CEO Ben Fordham; Contigo founders Andrew Wiseheart and Ben Edgerton; and Batch Craft Beer & Kolaches owners (who own and operate on the Contigo space) Noah and Laura Lit. This superstar group runs the gamut from upscale hotel food to casual drinks, hopefully ensuring that the icehouse will be able to balance it all.
“We are excited to gather a really talented team who share the same vision for hospitality and what that can mean in Texas and Austin," said Fordham in a press release. "We have a simple goal to bring people together and give them wonderful and nourishing memories."
Ben Fordham (left) and Michael Fojtasek, right.Photo courtesy of MaieB Hospitality
Contigo fans will be relieved to hear the emphasis on the outdoor hang will be preserved. In fact, the space looks similar, if a little more spacious in a rendering shared by the group. Above-ground planters in rows will presumably hold herbs or veggies (although the release does not say), and seating is mixed around picnic tables, four-tops, and what looks like fire or just conversation pits.
Guests can enjoy "schooner glass beverages" — presumably just beers, including one confirmed brew from Batch — smash burgers, and soft serve ice cream from the small house. In there will be indoor seating, and the exterior design appears to be taking a slightly more retro design than Contigo's rustic look. (With such a simple rendering, who's to say?) The release claims inspiration from 70s and 80s outdoor concert venues like Armadillo World Headquarters.
The earlier Dry Creek Café was another, more food-centric inspiration. It'll all be executed by Ann Edgerton, the interior designer who transformed an old Hyde Park post office into a sleek but retro café and readers' haven for First Light Books.
“Redbud Ice House at the old Contigo is a place for everyone to come together," said Fojtasek. "We’ve been flippin’ Gimme Burgers over at Pitch & Putt for a couple years. Redbud will serve a different but similar burger, alongside the happiness that is a schooner beer."
The Lits say they declined propositions for the space from out of state, hoping that something local would come along. Redbud and Batch will collaborate on events at the neighboring businesses including live music and watch parties on game days.
There's not much to see yet, but more information will be available at redbudicehouse.com. Redbud Ice House will be located at 2027 Anchor Ln.