Austin will welcome a new face to its culinary landscape when the Line ATX hotel opens in the coming months. “Top Chef” season 10 winner Kristen Kish, who also will be recognizable to viewers of the Travel Channel’s “36 Hours,” will serve as the executive chef for Arlo Grey, the centerpiece restaurant for the hotel that will take the place of the former Radisson at 111 E. Cesar Chavez.
The restaurant will take advantage of its urban-meets-natural location, perched just above Lady Bird Lake. While there are few details on the specific type of cuisine that will be served at Arlo Grey, a look at the Korean-born Kish’s career is instructive.
The Michigan-raised chef and graduate of Le Cordon Bleu in Chicago worked at the Michelin-starred Sensing in Boston before becoming an integral part in the demi empire of Barbara Lynch, the 2014 James Beard award winner for best restaurateur in the nation, eventually serving as chef de cuisine at Lynch’s Menton, a nationally lauded French restaurant celebrated for its technique, seasonality and sophistication.
Kish left Menton in 2014 and has spent the intervening years traveling the world, writing her first cookbook (“Kristen Kish Cooking”) and appearing on “36 Hours.”
The Line is owned and operated by the Sydell Group, which has a portfolio that includes the Nomad hotels in Los Angeles and New York and iterations of the Line in Los Angeles’ Koreatown and in Washington. In partnering with chefs at some of its other properties across the country, Sydell Group has often identified local talent to lead their kitchens (Roy Choi in Los Angeles, Spike Gjerde in Washington) but decided to take a different route in hiring Kish.
Sydell Group founder and CEO Andrew Zobler said that while he didn’t want to bring in a “celebrity chef” with properties in major cities across America, he was also leery of hiring a local Austin chef and possibly running the risk of having a redundant concept in the market. He wanted to respect Austin’s identity while also aiming for uniqueness and originality.
“When Kristen came along, a bunch of bells went off,” Zobler said. “She doesn’t have her own restaurant; she’s a great cook; she’s very hospitable; has a great story. Her personality to me vibes with Austin culture. We thought it would be more fun to bring in someone who is a little bit different and offer up something to Austin that it didn’t already have.”
While Kish will be new to Austin, she will be joined at the hotel by a chef familiar to discerning Austin diners. Chef Damien Brockway, formerly the executive chef of downtown tasting menu Counter 357, will helm P6, the rooftop lounge atop the hotel’s adjacent parking garage, which Zobler said will have a romantic vibe and sweeping views of the lake. Rounding out the culinary team will be Justin Ermini, previously executive chef at Las Alcobas in Mexico City, who will spearhead a ground-floor burger bar.
The Line ATX is slated to open in late spring, and while no exact dates have been set for the opening of the various food and beverage concepts, Zobler says they will have a strong impact in helping define the hotel’s personality and appeal.
“Our general theory is that people want an experience of travel. They want to go some place that gives them a feeling of being in that place, and food is one way of doing it; design is another way of doing it; art is a third way of doing it. Who you engage with locally, the people you hire … there’s lots of different facets to it. Food and beverage is clearly an important part in creating a sense of destination.”
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.
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.
The Austin restaurant scene has had a wobbly couple of years. But this one was better than last year, and I expect next year to be even better.
Some of my favorite trailers (Valentina’s Tex-Mex and Mellizoz Tacos) are finally getting brick-and-mortar spaces to call their own; restaurant groups with a solid track record (Chameleon Group, Bryce Gilmore’s team and New Waterloo) are opening new concepts, as is Patrick Terry; stand-out chefs like Sam Hellman-Mass are opening their own spots (Suerte); and some local favorites (Rudy’s, Polvo’s and Home Slice) are adding to their portfolio. Below are about two dozen new restaurants where you will likely be doing quite a bit of dining in the new year. Time to look to the future.
Principals: New Waterloo (La Condesa, Sway, South Congress Hotel).
Concept: Neighborhood Italian Restaurant with two imported Neapolitan wood-burning brick ovens, wine cellar and a live oak-shaded patio serving lunch, brunch and dinner, with house-made pizza and pasta.
Principals: Andy Means and Jessie Katz (former owners of now-closed Henri’s).
Concept: All-day menu featuring casual fare including burgers, sandwiches, salads, fresh made pastas, house pastries and a kids’ menu, along with full bar and an extensive selection of wine and beers on tap. Hank’s will also offer drive-through service.
Concept: A follow-up concept to Stiles Switch BBQ & Brew, this outpost will serve smoked meats and cajun classics, a collaboration led by Lance Kirkpatrick, Bill Dumas and Christopher McGhee of Stiles Switch and chef Todd Duplechan of Lenoir. Restaurant will also serve cocktails such as margaritas and local beer.
Location: Belterra Village development off US 290 at Nutty Brown Road.
The barbecue spot with the country vibe is getting an address in the heart of the city. Rudy’s “Country Store” & Bar-B-Q is slated to open in late spring at 3918 N. Lamar Blvd. in the space occupied for 22 years by EZ’s Brick Oven and Grill.
It will be the fifth Austin-area location, and first in the center of town, from local restaurateurs Ken Schiller and Brian Nolen, whose K&N Management is the licensed area developer for Rudy’s. Schiller and Nolen opened the first Austin-area Rudy’s in 1994. The restaurant will serve the same barbecue and breakfast taco menu as the other Austin-area locations, blend the familiar meat-market ambience with some nostalgic design elements from the building’s past and offer 81 parking spaces.
The new restaurant, which will also incorporate the adjacent building that is currently home to Banzai Sushi & Grill, will be designed in collaboration by architect Morris Hoover and builder John King, who intend to “create a distinctive space that fits the neighborhood,” according to the owners.
There were 14 finalists for the hot and highly visible property that has a storied history dating back to 2-J’s in 1954. The property owners, the Moton Crockett Jr. family, chose K&N Management,which also owns Mighty Fine Burgers, Fries & Shakes, due in part to Moton Crockett Jr.’s great-grandson’s love for both Mighty Fine and Rudy’s, according to a news release.
“We are pleased to be working with the Crockett family, who embodies our commitment to supporting the local community,” Schiller said. “We are proud and honored to be able to bring Rudy’s to Central Austin.”
The original Rudy’s opened in Leon Springs in 1989, and there are now 32 locations in Texas, two each in Oklahoma, Colorado and Arizona, and three in New Mexico.