Two former Texas high school football stars (Westlake’s Nick Foles and Abilene Wylie’s Case Keenum) face off in the NFC Championship Game Sunday in Philadelphia and one of them has strong roots in the Austin restaurant world.
Something tells me when the Eagles players want to know where to eat in the City of Brotherly Love, they turn to their underrated quarterback Nick Foles. The Westlake High School graduate, who took his team to the Division I title game in 2006, is the son of Austin super-restaurateur Larry Foles. The elder Foles, along with partner Guy Villavaso, opened Z’Tejas, Hopdoddy, Eddie V’s (which they sold for a small fortune), Red Ash and most recently ATX Cocina (look for that review here next week).
The younger Foles, who faced off against fellow Chaparral Drew Brees in the NFC Wild Card game in 2014, has stepped in for the injured Carson Wentz, a leading candidate for league MVP at the time of his injury, and has surprisingly (to some) led his team to the precipice of its first Super Bowl since 2005, a game won by Tom Brady (his third!) and the New England Patriots, whom the Eagles would possibly face again.
If you want to untangle the Austin-Philly-football-restaurant connections a little further, you’ll discover the ATX Cocina executive chef Kevin Taylor’s parents in New Jersey were good friends with former Eagles player Brit Hager and his wife, Bridgette. The couple moved to Austin and their son, Bryce, played at Westlake and became friends with Nick Foles. When Larry started visiting Philadelphia to watch Nick play with the Eagles, the Hagers put him in touch with Kevin, according to a rep for ATX Cocina. Larry, who was interested in Starr Restaurants, the empire for which Kevin worked at heir Mexican restaurant El Vez, became friendly with Taylor. And, voila, he’s now in Austin.
No word on Nick’s favorite food (though he was a regular at Texas Honey Ham Company as a kid), but apparently he has an appetite for the restaurant industry. While playing for the University of Arizona in 2010, hHe told The Oklahoman, “I remember when I was little, he’d come home late and I’d smell the catfish on his shirt. (Getting into the business) is something I want to do after football.”
Maybe the Foles-Villavso empire will eventually open a cheesesteak restaurant.
The Eagles play the hard-luck Minnesota Vikings and Keenum on Sunday in Philadelphia. I imagine Larry Foles will be in attendane. Can’t score a ticket for the big game? ATX Cocina has a TV in its bar. I hear football pairs well with oxtail quesadillas.