Punch Bowl Social planning downtown Austin location

Punch Bowl Social will open a second Austin location late this year.

The entertainment venue has signed a letter of intent for 22,000 square feet in the Scarborough Building at West Sixth Street and Congress Avenue.

Plans call for Punch Bowl Social to occupy spaces on the first floor and in the basement that were vacated by Brooks Brothers and Gold’s Gym. An outdoor patio along Congress Avenue is envisioned, as well.

When the downtown location opens, it will join one that has been at The Domain since 2014. Nationwide, there are 13 locations – most in urban settings similar to the new downtown Austin location.

“The Domain location was such a homerun from the very beginning,” Punch Bowl Social founder and CEO Robert Thompson said. “We love Austin and are excited to finally have a downtown location.”

While there will be many similarities between the two locations – dining, a bar and plenty of games – there will also be some differences, Thompson said.

“I’d say the look will probably be the biggest difference,” he said. “Back when we opened at The Domain, that was only our third location and we just didn’t the budget then that we have now.”

Expect some menu adjustments, too. The focus will still be comfort foods, Thompson said, but more Tex-Mex cuisine will be added. All dishes are made from scratch.

True Food Kitchen adding second Austin location

Herb hummus from True Food Kitchen.

True Food Kitchen is adding a second Austin location.

The restaurant chain, co-founded by author Dr. Andrew Weil and restaurateur Sam Fox and known for its menu featuring an array of seasonal healthy dishes, will open a location at The Domain late this year.

It will join a location in the Seaholm development in downtown Austin that opened in 2016.

At The Domain, True Food Kitchen will take over the space in Domain I formerly occupied by Blackfinn Ameripub, at 11410 Century Oaks Terrace, between Neiman Marcus and Macy’s.

“True Food Kitchen will be a terrific addition to The Domain’s already impressive retail and dining lineup,” Lauren Krumlauf, the center’s director of marketing and business development, said in a written statement. “Austin residents and tourists who appreciate well-prepared, wholesome dishes and incredible hospitality will enjoy True Food Kitchen as the restaurant is well-known for both.”

Founded in 2008, True Food Kitchen now has 21 locations.

Computer outage hits some Starbucks stores in Austin, elsewhere in Texas

If your coffee-crazed coworkers are a little cranky today, cut them some slack.

A computer meltdown meant many Starbucks locations nationwide – including some in Austin and surrounding areas – weren’t able to process orders for frappuccinos, caramel macchiatos and other fancy coffee drinks.

The company has yet to explain what exactly happened.

On Twitter, an American-Statesman reader said the Starbucks in The Parke shopping center in Cedar Park was offering free brewed coffee to disappointed customers who pulled up. Nothing else was available.

Free coffee and tea were also being handed out at two Starbucks locations in San Antonio’s Medical Center, according to another Twitter post from Barbara Mohs.

If you happen to stop in and grab a free cup of joe, Mohs has a bit of advice for you: “Tip well. Employees losing a day of tips.”

In South Austin, it’s bye, bye, Jack in the Box and hello, Starbucks

Vandals have targeted the former Jack in the Box at Barton Springs and South Lamar Boulevard since the fast-food joint closed.

Because there’s apparently no such thing as too many Starbucks locations, look for yet another one to pop up soon at a high-profile South Austin intersection.

The Seattle-based coffee chain is taking over the former Jack in the Box at Barton Springs Road and South Lamar Boulevard.

Crews have already started gutting the graffiti-covered building at 1200 Barton Springs Road. A filing with the state indicates Starbucks plans to spend about $600,000 to remodel the building, which was originally built in 1977.

Work should be completed by September, according to the state filing.



Whataburger’s picante sauce, salsa verde coming to H-E-B

Two more Whataburger items are making their way to store shelves.

Starting next week, look for the beloved Texas burger chain’s picante sauce and salsa verde at most H-E-Bs.

“Whether you’re topping off your taquito eggs with our picante sauce or adding a spoonful of salsa verde to fresh-off-the-grill fajitas, you can add flavor to meals any time of day,” said Mike Sobel, Whataburger’s vice president of retail. “Our salsa verde and picante sauce are really versatile and work well with so many different kinds of foods. We’re grateful for our partnership with H-E-B that allows us to bring these sauces into our customers’ kitchens to enjoy on their favorite recipes.”

Find Whataburger’s picante sauce and salsa verde in the grocer’s hot sauce aisle.

Other Whataburger-branded items carried by H-E-B include fancy ketchup, spicy ketchup, mustard, mayonnaise, honey butter sauce, pork sausage and creamy pepper, jalapeno ranch, peppercorn ranch and honey mustard sauces.

The partnership between the two chains has grown steadily in recent years, including the addition of a Whataburger restaurant inside an H-E-B gas station in Hutto.


Pollo Tropical closes all Austin, Dallas locations

Credit: Facebook.com/pollotropical

Pollo Tropical has closed 30 restaurants nationwide, including all of its locations in the Austin area.

The chicken chain said Monday that it is also pulling out of the Dallas/Fort Worth and Nashville, Tenn., markets.
There were three locations in Central Texas:
  • 211 S. Lamar Blvd., Austin
  • 20471 S. Interstate 35, Kyle
  • 1439 N. I-35, San Marcos
It had initially announced plans to also open restaurants in Cedar Park, Lakeway and near the Mueller redevelopment project in East Austin.
The closures are part of parent company Fiesta Restaurant Group’s “strategic renewal plan.” Fiesta also owns the Taco Cabana chain.
“Fiesta’s recent growth initiatives diverted resources from our core markets and some amount of renewal is required to restore momentum in these markets,” Fiesta president and CEO Richard Stockinger said in a written statement. “While the decision to close restaurants is never easy, we believe it is vital to focus the company’s resources and efforts on markets and locations that have proven successful for our brands.”
Some of the closed Pollo Tropicals may reopen at a later date as Taco Cabana locations, Fiesta said.

Hungry? UberEats offering free helicopter rides to Salt Lick

Everything’s bigger and better at South by Southwest.

It has to be in order to generate buzz.

And buzz is exactly what UberEats is hoping for with a promotion it’s running this weekend.

Ten lucky folks who enter the code UBEREATSBBQ in the UberEats app between now and noon Saturday will be picked for a private helicopter ride to the Salt Lick in Driftwood, where they’ll get to chow down on all the barbecue they can handle.

The trip will take place Sunday, so be sure to leave your calendar wide open, just in case.

Get complete details here.

Team behind Delicious taking over Bullock Museum café

A rendering shows what the museum's café will look like when it reopens in February.
A rendering shows what the museum’s café will look like when it reopens in February.

A restaurateur well known to many Austinites has been tapped to run the Bullock Texas State History Museum’s revamped café.

Raj Singh, the man behind Delicious on South Lamar Boulevard, is expected to reopen the café next month, the museum said Thursday.

“We’re very pleased to have the amazing team from Delicious craft a new, 21st century museum café experience,” Margaret Koch, the museum’s interim director said, said in a written statement. “The café is a vital component the museum, adding to the visitors’ experience and supporting the overall mission of the museum.”

The 6,800-square-foot museum café underwent extensive renovation last year, with Austin design firm Verokolt overseeing the project. It seats about 150 people.

The café’s new menu, according to the museum, will feature “Texas favorites with a unique spin and with an emphasis on comfort food.”

“They’ve made a commitment to provide the best service and affordable sustenance for visitors of all ages,” Koch said. “It’s a perfect fit for the Bullock Museum, one we hope will also make the café a destination in itself.”

Bullock Texas State History Museum seeks new restaurant operator

A rendering shows the remodeled restaurant space at the Bullock Texas State History Museum.
A rendering shows the remodeled restaurant space at the Bullock Texas State History Museum.

The Bullock Texas State History Museum is searching for a new operator for its on-site restaurant.

The 6,800-square-foot space was recently remodeled by Austin firm Verokolt, museum executives said. That’s the same company that designed 24 Diner, Irene’s and Italic, among others.

The Bullock’s restaurant can seat a total of about 150 people inside and outside and is move-in ready. Water and electricity are paid by the museum, which says it will also provide marketing support.

Museum hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday. There are occasional nighttime events, as well.

Each year, the Bullock says it welcomes 450,000 visitors.

Proposals from interested restaurateurs are due by Sept. 23. For more details, visit bit.ly/BullockCafe.

Cantina Laredo shuts down after 11 years in Second Street District

Cantina Laredo closed Thursday. (Ralph Barrera photo)
Cantina Laredo closed Thursday. (Ralph Barrera photo)

Cantina Laredo, a longtime tenant in downtown Austin’s Second Street District, closed its doors for good Thursday.

The restaurant, at 201 W. Third St., had initially planned to operate through Saturday, according to a written statement, but a “miscommunication” with the Austin/Travis County Health and Human Services Department caused that to change.

Cantina Laredo, which says it scored a 91 on its most recent health inspection, said the health department was under the impression the restaurant had already closed. When an inspector in the area this morning saw it was still up and running, he reportedly ordered the restaurant to cease operations and told diners to leave.

“I wanted to close down the restaurant in a dignified manner,” said Al LoCascio, Cantina Laredo’s owner. “It’s a difficult day to end 11 years of hard work and success under unfortunate circumstances.”

LoCascio cited “the amount of competitors that saturated the area and high overhead costs” for his decision to shut down.

“At some point you have to be realistic with the things you have accomplished and what makes sense with the bottom line,” LoCascio said. “We had decided to pass the torch on and allow a new concept to enrich the experience of the Second Street District.”