Stately new Austin restaurant hopes to turn regulars into friends
A new diner is bringing back the American supper club, aiming to become a local dining and social destination where sophistication meets fun. The Statesman, tapping into Texas’ entrepreneurial history for inspiration, opens on January 19 and is located in the heart of downtown Austin at 710 W. 6th Street.
The concept of the American supper club first gained popularity in the 30s and 40s. This is when establishments would become more of a destination for patrons to gather and socialize, while enjoying lavish cocktails and food. The Statesman is hoping to bring the same level of sophistication, while remaining fun and accessible enough to create real relationships — "a place where customers quickly become regulars, and regulars become friends," according to a press release.
The motto is personal to owner Craig Ley, founder of Eat, Drink, Live (EDL) Restaurant Group, who has stayed very involved in overseeing the daily operations and development of the restaurant in his hometown of Austin.
“The Statesman started as an idea of intimacy that grew to an ambition of universality," wrote Ley in an email to CultureMap. "We recognized that the people of Austin appreciated fine-dining with an environment that was curated to be accessible and familiar. Our purpose is service, the principal of every great Statesman.”
The Statesman menu features classics like seafood towers, crab cakes, and house-made pasta dishes (such as cacio e pepe and tagliatelle with roasted mushrooms); as well as more elevated dishes like red snapper with sauce meuniere, roasted chicken breast with jus, and ribeyes and filets sourced locally from 44 Farms.
“What excites me most is taking an array of dishes that are familiar classics, and elevating them to another level by way of product sourcing, execution, technique, and presentation," said Chef Kennedy in the release. "Our menu is one that is very approachable to guests who want to come in several times a week for a great meal, but also elevated enough for celebratory dinners and special occasions."
The culinary team is steered by executive chef Dan Kennedy, whose resume includes an impressive background of working with celebrity chefs like Ludo Lefebvre at Trois Mec, Aaron Silverman at Little Pear, and Justin Bogle at Avance. Kennedy has also worked alongside Top Chef winners Michael Voltaggio at Ink and Kevin Sbraga at Sbraga.
During the evenings, the dining room will transition into a cocktail lounge — amping up the fun with a DJ but still maintaining an enjoyable lounge ambiance. Austin-based mixologist Bill Norris, of Midnight Cowboy fame, crafted the equally impressive cocktail menu that will serve as a conversation starter.
Norris added his twist to the classics for hybrids like the tequila old fashioned, with a splash of cinnamon; an even more sophisticated take on the Paper Plane called the Business Class; and the S.S. Margarita that’s slightly sweet with a hint of ghost pepper for a spicy kick.
Photo by Jasmin Porter
The elegance spills onto the interior design with a custom 20-foot piece of wall art by artist Michael Kalish, who is known for mixing pop culture and Americana style in his pieces. Other details include vintage fixtures, brown leather booths, and a “press for champagne” button to keep a touch of playfulness.
For groups that want more of a private experience, the Statesman has a “lobby pit” tucked in the back with tufted booths that can accommodate up to 40 guests. There’s also a 30-seat outdoor patio with fans to keep patrons cool when the summer arrives.
“What excites us most about The Statesman is becoming 'the room where it happens,'" wrote Ley, referencing Hamilton. "[We're interested in] creating a haven for the first date, the celebration of new business ventures, the weekend brunch, and the all-important connectivity between familiar friends over a sensational meal,” said Ley.
The Statesman will be open daily, starting at 4:30 pm with dinner service until late. There are plans to intrude a weekend brunch later on. Reservations can be now made through OpenTable. For more information visit statesmanatx.com.