Hudson’s on the Bend closes after three months in business

Update: Here’s the review written before Hudson’s on the Bend abrupt closing

……

A group of young investors, all of whom had a hand in day-to-day operations of the restaurant, purchased Hudson’s on the Bend last spring from Jeff Blank, who founded the restaurant in 1984. Austin360 readers were going to read my review of the revamped restaurant this week. Then we got an email at 4 p.m. telling us the restaurant had closed, making the review irrelevant.

What you would have read was a story of a young team that experienced a few stumbles on one awkward Sunday night, and rebounded to thrill with one of my favorite meals of the year on a packed Saturday night. That night, from the execution of the appetizers and entrees by chef Billy Caruso to the wine pairings and service from beverage director and sommelier Chris McFall, gave an indication that the young team at Prime Thyme Restaurant Group was poised to get Hudson’s back into the game (sorry, that great pun about the restaurant that made its name serving wild game was our cover headline).

The bar area at the entrance of Hudson's on the Bend on Wednesday, February 8, 2017. Hudson's on the Bend has undergone a remodel after coming under new ownership. DEBORAH CANNON / AMERICAN-STATESMAN
The bar area at the entrance of Hudson’s on the Bend on Wednesday, February 8, 2017. Hudson’s on the Bend has undergone a remodel after coming under new ownership. DEBORAH CANNON / AMERICAN-STATESMAN

Instead, what we have is a vague story about Hudson’s on the Bend closing abruptly following service on Valentine’s Day.

The answers for the closure from the team that just opened the restaurant after a major rehab are few.

“The restaurant faced challenges and they weren’t able to move forward,” a representative said for the restaurant.

What’s next is not exactly clear, but the team eventually plans to bring its Mighty Cone food truck to the site. I may post my review (I gave the restaurant an 8/10) later this week.

Forget the Franklin Barbecue hype, here’s the facts

Austin sensation Franklin Barbecue does not lack for adjectives.

“Sumptuous” — Statesman critic Matthew Odam

“Best” — Texas Monthly

“Unbelievable” — Zagat

“Awesome” — A whole bunch of regular folks on Yelp

But if you’re one of the half-dozen or so people in Central Texas who hasn’t spent a morning waiting in line for lunch, what do you really make of these opinions? You don’t know these people. What you need is some cold, hard facts.

People wait in line for 4 to 5 hours to taste the food from Franklin Barbecue. Photo by Laura Skelding, American-Statesman52314 xl cover
People wait in line for 4 to 5 hours to taste the food from Franklin Barbecue. Photo by Laura Skelding, American-Statesman

Fortunately, online food magazine Taste has broken it down for all you suspicious barbecue holdouts, publishing an infographic that examines the numbers behind the phenomenon.

How many pounds of barbecue does Aaron Franklin’s joint cook a year? How many customers eat there a year? Just how many people have been standing in that line at one time? What’s the most money someone tried to bribe Franklin with to skip that line?

(For the record, $300 did not work.)

The graphic also examines the earliest someone has arrived to wait in line (so far nobody has waited as long as it takes to cook a brisket) and the earliest the line has been shut down (you’re pressing your luck if you wait until mid-morning).

Aaron Franklin of Franklin Barbecue. Photo by Laura Skelding, American-Statesman
Aaron Franklin of Franklin Barbecue. Photo by Laura Skelding, American-Statesman

Bryce Gilmore and Laura Sawicki earn James Beard semifinalist nods

Bryce Gilmore has earned a fifth semi-finalist nod from the James Beard Awards. (Ralph Barrera AMERICAN-STATESMAN)
Bryce Gilmore has earned a fifth semi-finalist nod from the James Beard Awards. (Ralph Barrera AMERICAN-STATESMAN)

Two names very familiar with James Beard Awards voters have again earned semifinalist nods. Barley Swine and Odd Duck chef-owner Bryce Gilmore has been named a semifinalist for Best Chef Southwest for the fifth consecutive year. Barley Swine, his original restaurant, earned the #1 ranking in the Austin360 Dining Guide in 2016 and in 2013, and Odd Duck also took at Top 10 spot last year (#4).

Laura Sawicki and Rene Ortiz of Launderette. Contributed by Launderette
Laura Sawicki and Rene Ortiz of Launderette.
Contributed by Launderette

Laura Sawicki, executive  pastry chef and partner at Launderette and Fresa’s, earned her third semifinalist nomination for Best Pastry Chef in America. She also garnered that recognition last year and in 2013 while at La Condesa, which she helped open with chef-partner Rene Ortiz.

Those two nods are the only received by Austin chefs or restaurants this year. Finalists will be announced on March 15, with the awards taking place in Chicago on May 1. Below are the other chefs nominated for Best Chef Southwest, an honor that has been awarded to Tyson Cole of Uchi (2011), Paul Qui (while at Uchiko in 2012) and Aaron Franklin of Franklin Barbecue (2015).

Charleen Badman, FnB, Scottsdale, AZ

Jen Castle and Blake Spalding, Hell’s Backbone Grill, Boulder, UT

Silvana Salcido Esparza, Barrio Urbano, Phoenix

Omar Flores, Casa Rubia, Dallas

Bryce Gilmore, Barley Swine, Austin

Manabu Horiuchi, Kata Robata, Houston

Anita Jaisinghani, Pondicheri, Houston

Steve McHugh, Cured, San Antonio

Hugo Ortega, Hugo’s, Houston

Jonathan Perno, Los Poblanos, Los Ranchos de Albuquerque, NM

Steve Redzikowski, Acorn, Denver

Martín Rios, Restaurant Martín, Santa Fe

Teiichi Sakurai, Tei-An Soba House, Dallas

Alex Seidel, Mercantile, Denver

Seth Siegel-Gardner and Terrence Gallivan, The Pass, Houston

Eric Skokan, Black Cat, Boulder, CO

Jeff Smedstad, Elote Cafe, Sedona, AZ

John Tesar, Knife, Dallas

David Uygur, Lucia, Dallas

Jianyun Ye, Mala Sichuan Bistro, Houston

 

Austin chef Paul Qui opening restaurant named Aqui in Houston

Austin chef Paul Qui is expanding his demi empire to Houston. The co-founder of East Side King and owner of Kuneho, a re-imagining of the eponymous restaurant he first opened in East Austin in 2013, will open Aqui at 520 Westheimer Road in the Montrose neighborhood of Houston later this year.

“The focus is on wood and wok cooking with a heavy emphasis on meats and seafood,” Qui told the Statesman. “There will be a big raw bar and open kitchen with counter seating and full bar with cocktails. I’m super excited about the kitchen; it will be the first full kitchen suite that I designed from scratch.”

Paul Qui at his restaurant in East Austin in 2016. (Kelly West AMERICAN-STATESMAN)
Paul Qui at his restaurant in East Austin in 2016. (Kelly West AMERICAN-STATESMAN)

Qui opened Kuneho the first week of January following the shuttering of Qui, which he closed about six months after being arrested for assault.

As with the restaurant he opened in 2013, Aqui is being designed by A Parallel Architecture, and the chef posted a photo of the rendering today on Instagram (see below). We spoke to the chef last year about his battles with addiction, his arrest and his plans for the future. You can read that here.

View this post on Instagram

it's almost time…

A post shared by paul qui (@pqui) on

 

Late-night UT hotspot Big Bite closes in West Campus

 

Big Bite, the popular greasy sub shop in West Campus that has been a staple of the diets of many UT students for nearly a decade, abruptly closed this month, The Daily Texan reports.

bigbite2
The “About” section on Big Bite’s Facebook page as of 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 14, 2017.

Owner Joseph Elghoul told The Daily Texan that American Campus declined to re-lease the restaurant’s location on 24th and Guadalupe after the lease expired in December.

Elghoul said he went to American Campus last May to talk about renewing his lease and didn’t get an answer until late January, when they asked for a franchise.

More: My Fit Foods closes all Austin locations

“The only franchises that survive around campus is Whataburger and Chipotle,” Elghoul told The Daily Texan. “Everybody else that opens — they open, they close.”

The restaurant, which Elghoul said catered to students- “75 to 80 percent of Big Bite’s customers”- opened in 2009 and its greasy, meaty sandwiches ensured that Big Bite became a late-night hotspot.

“I’m a fast-food chain, like Whataburger, Burger King,” Elghoul told The Daily Texan. “We catered to kids who were drunk or high, and most of it was like the sponge of alcohol food.”

Twitter users, Texas students and Texas Exes offered their fond memories of the restaurant and ranted about the restaurant’s landlord once they learned of the news.

bigbitetweet

https://twitter.com/CindyLe31/status/831588086089908225

Update: A Day Without Immigrants closures include Home Slice Pizza and locations of Tacodeli and Torchy’s Tacos

Update: Many more restaurants apparently have closed for the day without warning. Some, such as Torchy’s Tacos, have cited a lack of employees. Mini-chains such as Torchy’s and Tacodeli appear to have some locations closed, with other locations still open for business.

RELATED: Spanish note at Chuy’s Round Rock threatened firings, has since been removed

….

Austin Mayor Steve Adler responded to the news that restaurants are preparing to close as a show of solidarity in response to the ongoing ICE operation.

“This is a country of immigrants and a city of immigrants, and I love it when we stick up for each other here,” Adler told the Statesman.

…….

A grassroots movement that seems to be a response to the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s ongoing sting known as Operation Cross Check, as well as to the Trump administration, has called on people to unite in protest. A Spanish-language flier that has circulated in Austin and on social media calls on the “undocumented, residents, citizens and immigrants from all over the world” to boycott work, opening their businesses for the day, buying gasoline, attending class and more. The flier (see above) presumably addresses President Donald Trump with the line, “Mr. President, without us and our contribution, this country would be paralyzed.” The day of protest has been picking up steam around the country. Celebrity chef José Andrés announced recently that he will close his restaurants in Washington D.C.

A few Austin restaurants are getting ahead of the game, and have posted their own fliers on their doors stating that they will be closed Thursday, and others may simply not open Thursday without advance notice.

The participants in the protest are obviously not just Mexican restaurants or ones that employ Latino workers. Chef Otto Phan of Kyoten Sushiko only has two employees, neither of whom are Latino, but he says his Thursday closure is acknowledgment of many of his former peers and informal mentors.

“I will always have much love for the mentors that got me here. Masa (Takayama of Masa in NYC), Tyson Cole (Uchi) and Tatsu (Aikawa of Ramen Tatsu-ya) are the big names I give out,” Phan said in a text message. “But I’ve had mentoring from a lot of ‘Pablos’ along the way that have played an equal role in my development. I wouldn’t be here today without their kindness.”

If you see or hear of more Austin restaurants participating, please email modam@statesman.com.
The restaurants that have confirmed via phone, or who as of Tuesday afternoon had signs on their doors announcing, their closure Thursday:

  • Beto’s Mexican Restaurant, 3518 E. Seventh St.
  • El Borrego de Oro, 3900 S. Congress Ave.
  • Casa Garcia’s (all locations)
  • Casita Nicole Antojitos Mexicanos, 9618 Manchaca Road
  • Los Catrachos, 1015 E. Braker Lane
  • El Chilito, 1623 E. Seventh St.
  • Churro Co. 1620 E. Riverside Drive
  • Mi Cocina,  948 Payton Gin Road
  • Las Delicias,  111 W. William Cannon Drive
  • Dragon Delights, 1919 E. Riverside Drive
  • Enchiladas y Mas, 1911 W. Anderson Lane
  • Hay Elotes, 2214 E. Seventh St.
  • Home Slice Pizza, 1415 S. Congress Ave.
  • Hyde Park Bar & Grill, 4521 West Gate Blvd.
  • Jalisco’s, 6601 S. Congress Ave.*
  • Koriente, 621 E. Seventh St.
  • Kyoten Sushiko, 4600 Mueller Blvd. #1035
  • Lima Criolla, 6406 N. I-35
  • McDonald’s, 303 E. Oltorf St. 414 W Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. 6010 W. Parmer Lane. 1209 Barton Springs Road
  • La Mexicana,  1924 S. First St.
  • La Placita, 5310 S. Pleasant Valley Road
  • Pollo Regio, 110 E. William Cannon Drive*
  • Mi Tradicion, 8716 Research Blvd.
  • Regia Bakery, 1909 US 183
  • Rinconcito Chapin, 8911 N. Lamar Blvd.
  • Sap’s, 4514 West Gate Blvd.*
  • El Secreto de la Abuela, 817 Airport Blvd. 
  • Serranos, 5030 US 290
  • Super Moreliana, 6112 US 183
  • Sweet Sweet Co.
  • Tacodeli, 4200 N. Lamar Blvd. and 701 Loop 360
  • Taco More North, 9414 Parkfield Drive
  • Tacos Lylys, 9318 N. I-35
  • Taqueria Adelitas, 5501 S. Congress Ave.
  • Taqueria Arandinas, 2110 E Riverside Dr.
  • Taqueria Ceibas, 101 E. Rundberg Lane
  • Taqueria los Jaliscienses, 1815 W. Ben White Blvd.
  • Taqueria Vallarta, 6628 S. Congress Ave.*
  • Tio Dan Puffy Tacos, 409 Round Rock Ave.*
  • Torchy’s Tacos, 3005 S. Lamar Blvd.
  • Veracruz All Natural

*Restaurant closures reported by readers, and these restaurants are also not answering their phones.

Some restaurants, such as Takoba, have said they are closing, though a manager didn’t speak directly to the reason.

In addition to restaurants closing, purveyors and suppliers are also closing. El Milagro Tortillas has confirmed they will be closed Thursday. The tortilla company in East Austin supplies tortillas and chips either directly or through distributors for more than a thousand restaurants and stores in the area, according to an employee.

Some restaurants that will be open for business Thursday are showing their support through donations. Vinaigrette, the upmarket salad-centric restaurant off South Congress Avenue, is celebrating its one year anniversary this week and will donate 50% of proceeds to the Immigrant Legal Resource Center to “stand with and support their friends, staff and neighbors on ‘Day Without Immigrants Strike.'”

El Borrego de Oro at 3900 S. Congress Ave. (Credit: April Riggs)
El Borrego de Oro at 3900 S. Congress Ave. (Credit: April Riggs)

 

Taqueria los Jaliscienses, 1815 W. Ben White Blvd.
Taqueria los Jaliscienses, 1815 W. Ben White Blvd. (Contributed)

 

Kyoten Sushiko, 4600 Mueller Blvd. #1035
Kyoten Sushiko, 4600 Mueller Blvd. #1035

Related:

Additional reporting by Perla Arellano of AhoraSi. 

Queso the Mondays: Tacodeli

Roberto’s Brazo Fuerte Dip & Chips at Tacodeli. (Credit: Matthew Odam AMERICAN-STATESMAN)
Roberto’s Brazo Fuerte at Tacodeli. (Credit: Matthew Odam AMERICAN-STATESMAN)

Roberto’s Brazo Fuerte at Tacodeli (medium, $7.25). Multiple locations. tacodeli.com.

I’m only running out one queso on this Monday because man can not live on queso alone. Besides, last week was a little rough, and this queso arguably deserves its own entry.

Want to be the hero at your office’s Monday morning meeting? Walk in with a dish of the pale gold that is the Roberto’s Brazo Fuerte from Tacodeli. The upgrade to their regular queso comes with the Akaushi picadillo from their popular lunch taco, but if you get there before 11 a.m., like I did (pro tip: between 9:30 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. or after 2 p.m. are the sweet spots at the Spyglass location), you have a choice between sausage and chorizo.

Go with the chorizo. It gives a mild piquancy, with a touch of that chorizo funk, to the white cheese base that is somehow thick and runny at the same time. That consistency is good for coating your chips (made with 1oo percent organic masa), but it also means you might be licking your knuckles and the side of your hand. The cheese dip is milky and pleasurably salty (the chorizo played a hand in that), and the pico mix contains jalapenos with good, firm snap and floral cilantro that sings through the mix. If you want to stick to vegetarian queso, as to not upset your friends (or music critic), you can go with the regular queso for $3.75, $6.50 or $8.50.