Exclusive: Founders of Esther’s Follies buy back the historic Tavern on Lamar Boulevard

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Esther’s Follies co-founders Shannon Sedwick and Michael Shelton purchased the historic Tavern (922. W. 12th St.) last week from brothers Ellis and Austin Winstaley. The couple, who met while performing in a rock musical at the University of Texas in 1968, opened their popular comedy theater downtown in 1977 and owned and operated the Tavern from 1979 to 1981, with Shelton renovating the historic building.

The Tavern located at 12th and Lamar. (Rodolfo Gonzalez/AMERICAN-STATESMAN)

Sedwick and Shelton, who founded the legendary Liberty Lunch and also own Patsy’s Cowgirl Cafe, intend to update the menu under the guidance of Three Little Pigs owner and former Jeffrey’s chef Raymond Tatum (who has also made changes at Patsy’s) and say they have touch-ups but not major changes in store. In addition to menu changes from Tatum (think pork belly sliders and his famous meatloaf), the new/old owners also plan to introduce live music from singer-songwriter types in the upstairs space. The Tavern will remain open during the changes, and Sedwick expects the menu to evolve over the coming months.

“We are excited to have the Tavern back and want to preserve its legacy as one of Austin’s first watering holes, while bringing some new energy to the food and look of the place, to bring it into the contemporary bar scene. No frills, just bringing back its glory,” Sedwick said.

Michael Shelton and Shannon Sedwick are the new owners of The Tavern. (Alberto Martinez/AMERICAN-STATESMAN)

The 102-year-old building, which began as a grocery, was originally designed by German native Hug Kuehne, who modeled it after the public houses of Europe, according to the Tavern’s website. The Winstaleys, who also own El Arroyo, Hill’s Cafe, Star Seeds Cafe, Abel’s on the Lake and Cain and Abel’s, bought the Tavern from Bob Cole in 2013.


Downtown hot dog restaurant Frank closed over unpaid taxes

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The flagship location of specialty hot dog restaurant Frank (407 Colorado St.) has temporarily shuttered following a seizure Feb. 1 by the Texas Comptroller’s Office that was a result of unpaid taxes.

American-Statesman 2010

Frank owners say that much of the tax burden in question came from the failed San Antonio location, which closed two weeks ago. Owners are working on a resolution to the issue and hope to pay their bill and reopen in about a week. The closure has no effect on other Frank locations.


Frank restaurant coming to the Drag
Frank restaurant now running food and beverage operations at Scholz Garten
Haute doggin’ it: Four places to get hot dogs with a twist

P. Terry’s Taco Ranch announces new (temporary) hours after overwhelming response of first three days

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Austintes love P. Terry’s and they definitely love tacos. So much so that Taco Ranch, the new fast-casual, drive-thru Tex-Mex concept from Patrick Terry has been completely overwhelmed with business in its first week.

Michael Hsu Office of Architecture

After selling out of food and announcing early closures the first couple of days, Terry has decided to scale back on the hours at Taco Ranch until they can get a handle on the demand.

Therefore, until further notice, the hours of Taco Ranch, which is located in a former Burger King at MoPac Boulevard and U.S. 290 (5033 U.S. 290 W.), are as follows:

6 a.m to 3 p.m. Monday-Friday and 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday.

Update: Taco Ranch will be closed on Sundays until further notice.



Dai Due Taqueria at Fareground closed for the day after crazy first weekend

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People knew Fareground was going to be popular. But it turns out it was very, very, very popular. So popular that Jesse Griffith’s Dai Due Taqueria ran out of its locally sourced meat after a wild first few days that included serving 1,000 tacos over 12 straight hours on Saturday. In all of his years in restaurants, Griffiths said he’d never seen anything like it.

Griffiths, who was headed to meet his purveyor and prepare to be butchering all day, said the Taqueria closure would only be for Tuesday and that they would reopen at 7 a.m. on Wednesday. Dai Due, which sources all of its meat from Texas and has been working to mitigate the state’s feral hog population, will likely serve 400 of the animals at the Taqueria over the next year, according to chef-hunter-fisherman-restaurateur Griffiths.



Hudson’s on the Bend coming back with new name and new ownership

Hudson’s on the Bend was a landmark restaurant in the Lakeway area for decades. Chef and co-founder Jeff Blank turned it into a spot that could serve as destination-dinner retreat and comfortable home for regulars. He sold the business in 2016 to an owner who reopened the restaurant in November 2016 under the guidance of young chef Billy Caruso and sommelier Chris McFall. The week I (positively) reviewed the restaurant last year, it suddenly closed with no explanation.

Now, it’s coming back. An ownership group that includes real estate developer, serial entrepreneur and philanthropist Dilum Chandrasoma, musician Kris Kimura, former J. Black’s general manager Eric Leonard, and entrepreneur Lysa Nguyen purchased the restaurant in December. They plan to reopen in mid-March under the name Hudson’s Hill Country, with the kitchen under the stewardship of executive chef John Sturdivant, formerly of Z’Tejas.

One of the dining areas at Hudson’s on the Bend on Wednesday, February 8, 2017. (Deborah Cannon/ AMERICAN-STATESMAN)

Chandrasoma was a regular at Hudson’s on the Bend for about 25 years, and he said he wants to bring back the classic ambiance and that nostalgic feel that made it so popular for so long. He describes the reboot as “a modern classic of Hudson’s,” with a menu and vibe that “made Hudson’s an Austin icon.” The new owners have no major changes in store for the space, which was renovated by the previous owners.

In addition to Hudson’s Hill Country, the owners also just opened Parker Jazz Club, in the space beneath the old Spaghetti Warehouse on Fourth Street.





Co-founder of the Salt Lick dies at the age of 104

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Hisako Tsuchiyama Roberts, the co-founder of the Salt Lick in Driftwood, one of the most famous restaurants in Texas, died Thursday in Austin. She was 104.

Hisako Tsuchiyama Roberts. (Credit: Roberts family)

A native of Lihue, Kauai, the child of Japanese parents met her future husband, Thurman Roberts, while the sailor was stationed with the Navy in Hawaii during World War II.

The couple married and returned to Roberts’ native Texas, eventually opening the now world-famous barbecue restaurant in Driftwood in 1967.

Tsuchiyama Roberts, who held a masters degree in psychology from the University of California, Los Angeles, dedicated her professional life in Texas to running the restaurant in the idyllic setting. She brought her flavors of her own culture to the smoked meat specialists, according to her son, Scott Roberts, who in his 2014 book “Salt Lick Cookbook: A Story of Land, Family, and Love,” wrote about his mother’s tempura frying of vegetables and shrimp for the menu along with her addition of poppy seeds to cole slaw and celery seeds to potato salad.

Following her husband Thurman’s death in 1981, Hisako Tsuchiyama Roberts operated the restaurant on her own until retirement in 1987, at which time her son, Scott Roberts, took the reins of the family business. The restaurant has since become even more famous for its bottled and branded sauces; operates a popular outpost at the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport and one in Round Rock; and has plans to open a location in Grapevine later this year or in 2019.

In his book, Scott Roberts writes about his mother’s no-nonsense approach to business and her admirable work ethic, and with her passing, family shared a tale of the diminutive Tsuchiyama Roberts felling a charging buck with the swing of a pecan bucket she was using for shelling and killing it with a rock while her husband and his friends were away on an unsuccessful hunting trip.

Hisako Roberts was preceded in death by her husband, Thurman, and son Butch. She is survived by son Scott Roberts; daughter-in-law Susan Goff; granddaughter and Salt Lick Vice President Maile Roberts-Loring and her husband, Brian Loring; and great-grandson Emory Loring.

In lieu of flowers, the family request donations be made to KUT or The University of Texas at Austin.

From 2012: Land, Love, work, family and loss made Salt Lick barbecue

From 2015: The best barbecue in Central Texas

Icy Austin weather leads to many restaurant closures

Pardon the late riff, but the weather outside is frightful. It had led to many Austin restaurant closures and some late openings Tuesday, while other spots are staying open and even offering specials. Check out this continually updated list throughout the day. This list focuses on indoor restaurants, because I reckon more trailers will be closed than open.



Andiamo Ristorante

Baby Greens

Casa Colombia


Counter Cafe (both locations)

District Kitchen + Cocktails

Drink. Well. 

El Chile Restaurant Group has closed all locations for the day (El Chile, El Chilito, El Alma, Yuyo and Alcomar)

Enoteca Vespaio




Guero’s Taco Bar on South Congress



Louie Mueller Barbecue in Taylor


Oasthouse Kitchen + Bar

Old Thousand

Quality Seafood

Salt Traders Costal Cooking

Shoal Creek Saloon

Spartan Pizza

All Veracruz All Natural locations

Vince Young Steakhouse


Austin-based delivery app Favor said to check the app for area-related delays.

Irene’s and Italic are both slated to open at 11 a.m.

Juliet Italian Kitchen plans to open at 5 p.m.

June’s All Day, Elizabeth Street Cafe and Josephine House all plan to open at 11 a.m.

Launderette will open at 5 p.m.

MAX’s Wine Dive is closed for lunch and hopes to open at 4 p.m.

Perla’s will open at 5 p.m.


Fonda San Miguel is offering its happy hour all night.

$1 frozen margaritas at Fresa’s

Hopfields ofering a free cup of their coconut red curry soup with any entrée or sandwich during lunch (11 a.m. to 3.pm.).

All JuiceLand locations in Austin area are offering 25 percent off all Superfood Hot Drinks Tuesday and Wednesday.  JuiceLand decided to close at 2 p.m. Tuesday.

Swift’s Attic is closed for lunch but plans to open for dinner.

Uchiko is running a hot toddy special. The Lemongrass Toddy ($12) is made with sake, Round Rock Honey, 5 spice, orange, and sherry. One dollar from each sale will go to the Farmers Emergency Relief Fund (FEF) which has been severely impacted as late because of the past week’s freezing temperatures.

Wild Chix & Waffles, the chicken-and-waffles restaurant at Northcross Mall is giving all customers a free hot drink of their choice with a purchase.