According to Yelp, almost 20,000 restaurants have permanently closed in the United States as of August 31st. Restaurant sales in Texas are down about a third from last year with about half of Texas restaurants saying they will close permanently unless business picks up or they receive more aid. Given those numbers (one restaurant closing per 16,410 people in the US), Austin’s restaurant scene seems to be faring well, with Eater Austin reporting about 30 closures (although I suspect there are more). I count three covid-related closures in the Allandale area (Be More Pacific, Chocolaterie Tessa, and Brama [not on Eater’s list]) with the nearby The Dart Bowl and Threadgill’s also succumbing to the virus. Several places (such as Pour House Pub and Jack Allen’s) are temporarily closed (with Jack Allen’s planning to open back up on October 5th). Luby’s also appeared to be on the verge of collapse, but a new owner may save it (our Luby’s remains open). The Guv increased restaurant capacity to 75% on September 21st, so perhaps that will help, but we, for ones, will continue to vigorously partake of take-out and delivery until this whole mess is over.
Despite the economic uncertainty, new places are opening up. Vanilla Orchid, a caterer at 7433 Burnet, has opened a side hustle called Chicken Salad Shoppe where you can order, you guessed it, chicken salad sandwiches and wraps (two chicken thumbs up!). And Kitchen United is now sporting some 15 chowslingers. Old Thousand (4805 Burnet Road) is closer to completion with a small sign identifying itself under a large panda and even larger words yelping “Dope Chinese” (a crowned RBG portrait will greet customers). Thom’s Market announced plans to open up in the old 7-11 at 5901 Burnet Road where you can expect lots of local products and ye olde Austin vibe. Jewboy Burgers [our review] moved from the trailer park at 5000 Burnet into brick and mortar at 5111 Airport Boulevard (and received a rave review for their Goyim Burger from Matt Odem at the local newspaper).
If you’ve been worried about Trudy’s bankruptcy (as we have), rest assured that although they’ve been bought at auction by North Carolina’s Hargett Hunter Capital Management, it comes from a place of love. One of Hargett Hunter’s managing partners, Jeff Brock, fell head over lemon peels with Trudy’s and their Mexican martinis some 20 years ago during his college years. You can expect restaurant upgrades and, possibly, an expansion of Trudy’s fare to more of the country.
There hasn’t been much in the way of awards and kudos the past couple of months, but Culturemap named Austin Beerwerks (3001 Industrial Terrace) as one of Austin’s top five breweries and, via its Tastemaker awards, recognized Foreign & Domestic as its neighborhood restaurant of the year, Eldorado for the best queso, and Bufalina (Due) for the wine program of the year.
I wrote this article for the Allandale Neighbor