Before television turned out new chef celebrities seemingly every other week and diners in Austin had a plethora of restaurant options, there was Blank and Hudson’s on the Bend.
Blank opened the game-centric restaurant near Lake Travis in 1984, and the romantic getaway quickly became a destination for special occasion dinners thanks to its rustic ambiance and intriguing Southwestern cuisine like rattlesnake cakes.
Citing health concerns, Blank sold the restaurant to restaurateurs chef Billy Caruso and Chris McFall. The sale includes the property at 3509 RM 620, as well as Hudson’s casual trailer spin-off, the Mighty Cone.
Caruso, a Lake Travis native and graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, currently serves as the executive chef at III Forks in Chicago and has a history of front-of-house experience in a variety of positions at Austin restaurants III Forks, Paggi House and Botticelli’s.
McFall, an advanced sommelier and Austin native, has served as wine expert and beverage director at Austin restaurants Paggi House, Lamberts Downtown Barbecue and Sullivan’s Steakhouse as well as Pappas Bros. Steakhouse in Houston.
“Billy grew up here. He’s eaten at Hudson’s his whole life. He knows many of our staff,” Blank said in a release. “I was 34 when we opened Hudson’s. He’s 31. He’s experienced, and he knows the food we do and wants to carry on that tradition.”
Caruso says many of the Hudson’s classic dishes will remain and will be joined by new menu additions dictated by the produce available at local farms and from Hudson’s on-site garden. The restaurant’s name will remain the same, and the majority of the staff will continue at Hudson’s.
Hudson’s on the Bend will close temporarily on April 4 and reopen after minor renovations. Cosmetic changes will include an expansion of the outdoor patio, which will be updated with air conditioning and heating, lifting of the low ceiling in the upstairs dining room, and removal of the lobby. The private dining room will be relocated to make room for a new wine cellar, under the direction of McFall.
To commemorate Blank’s retirement, Hudson’s will host a week of farewell dinners, starting today and running through Sunday, with Blank in attendance.
Blank will serve as a consultant to Caruso but plans to focus on “special-occasion and destination offerings” at his lakefront home. He also intends to pen an autobiography.
During his tenure at Hudson’s, during which he became one of the few Austin chefs receiving early national attention, Blank also opened the Wineskin Restaurant in Aspen, Colo., and the Ocotillo at the Lajitas Golf Resort in West Texas.
For information on the farewell dinners or to make a reservation, visit hudsonsonthebend.com or call 512-266-1369.