Frank taking over food and beverage operations at Scholz Garten, will add German menu items

Changes are coming to histroic Scholz Garten.
In a move that will bring two German traditions together at a Central Texas classic, artisan sausage purveyors Frank will take over food and beverage operations at the legendary Scholz Garten beginning June 1.
The restaurant is still finalizing its menu, but fans of the Longhorns, politics, good times and anyone else who wanders into the 151-year-old establishment should expect some true German fare like sauerbraten, rinderrouladen, obatzda, brezn knödel, konigsberger klopse, and spaetzle, according to Frank owner Geoff Peveto. Those new items will be in addition to some German-flavored menu items like the Schwarzbier-infused brat, Reuben fries and more that are already on the menu at Frank, which opened in 2009 in the Warehouse District. The food and beverage operations at Scholz have been run by the owners of Green Mesquite since 1996.
A trio of dogs on the menu at Frank. (Matthew Odam AMERICAN-STATESMA)
“Knowing the significance of Scholz and its place in Texas and Austin history was the most exciting part of the opportunity to run it. We did a lot of digging at the Austin History Center to understand the history and tradition of Scholz and the Saengerrunde,” Peveto said. “I have also traveled through Germany multiple times, which is why you see things like Currywurst on the Frank menu. Taking the history of Scholz and traditional German biergartens into consideration, we will be updating the menu and space to reflect those traditions.”
Peveto says the changes at Scholz, including updates to the original dining hall and north dining hall, will come in phases over the next year, with a full renovation of the biergarten following the football season. Other changes will include a reintroduction of the original water feature, along with more greenery and a new stage. Peveto says the large tap selection means there will be plenty of room for existing customer favorites, as well as new craft beer choices and a few non-traditional  beer styles like those from locals Blue Owl Brewing.
Frank has not determined what the hours of operation will be at the revamped Scholz, which will soon be getting a new neighbor in the Dell Medical School.
Related:

BEER, HISTORY AND OOMPAH MUSIC MAKE SCHOLZ AN AUSTIN CLASSIC

May 20, 2004

Change is in the air. Friends are breaking out of long-term relationships. Other friends are getting back together. The fabulous Susan is moving to Illinois for a fabulous post-doc and will no longer be around for girls nights and after-hours merriment. My housemate (and friend) of three years is moving in with her boyfriend, and I’m about to start the grown-up stage of living alone. I heard Mercury was in retrograde; maybe that explains it (or so I’m told by people who know about such things). In any case, with so much change swirling about, it was good to have a beer this week in a place that’s been around almost as long as Austin itself: official historic landmark Scholz Garten.

Scholz’s is an old-fashioned beer garden. Opened at the end of the Civil War in 1866 by August Scholz, it’s an enormous place, able to cater to parties of as many as 700 people (500 outside, 200 inside). Outside, more than 25 picnic tables seat guests — some of whom share tables when the place is crowded, just like in a German beer garden.

Inside are three separate dining/drinking areas — the wood-heavy main room with the bar, the larger north dining room, and a third room downstairs between the beer garden and front. Neon beer signs from Schlitz to Budweiser, old newspaper clippings and posters decorate the walls. Food ranges from roasted chicken (an occasional special) to jagerschnitzel. Scholz’s was leased about eight years ago to Green Mesquite BBQ, though it’s owned by the Saengerrunde folks, and Green Mesquite brought in barbecue.

And of course there’s beer. German brews from Lowenbrau to Spaten are on draft, along with various and sundry others from Fat Tire to Live Oak and Guinness. Those looking for a Bud or Miller or Red Stripe can find those and others in bottles. All can be drunk in any of the rooms, but are most especially enjoyed outdoors, where patrons can sit and stare at the stage with its backdrop depicting an Alpine scene. On Thursdays in spring and for a short while in the fall, a German oompah band plays. A polka band was recently added to Monday nights — and on a Monday, if you’re lucky, you might even see a couple dancing with vigorous hops and twirls.

Scholz’s, being so close to the University of Texas, is particularly popular (like body-to-body popular) before Longhorn football games — or any UT sporting event. Or so I’ve heard: Despite my two-year stint at the flagship institution, I never went to any sporting event, and so missed the pregame madness. But those without tickets can watch games — Scholz’s has more than a dozen televisions tuned to various sporting events — and sometimes CNN. As it’s also so near the various government buildings and the Capitol, Scholz’s hosts legions of politicos. LBJ drank there, most Texas governors have eaten there, the state constitution was rewritten there and it’s a safe bet that during lunch or just after work, you’ll find suits hanging out and wrangling and hammering out details. The bar has a long history of hosting liberals — most recently the Deaniacs gathered during Howard Dean’s ill-fated campaign — though it’s been known to allow in Republicans, too (in 2002 the Travis Country Republican Party launched the campaign season at Scholz’s). The bar also was a character in a book: “The Gay Place, ” former LBJ staffer Billy Lee Brammer’s fictionalization of Texas politics, politics that sometimes took over the garden.

Change, they say, is a good thing. Or at least a necessary thing. Or, at the very least, something you can ponder at Scholz’s, where the Austinites hanging out there may have changed over time, the menu and the folks in charge may have changed too, but the bar itself, in its various permutations, has existed for more than 100 years.

For some Scholz History, check out these stories from the Statesman archive:

May 31, 1996

Scholz Garten’s assets sold off; Owner of Green Mesquite plans to renovate and reopen watering hole in July

Tom Davis bought up the rest of Scholz Garten lock, stock and beer keg Thursday when he outbid the field at an auction to pay off the local landmark’s debt to the IRS.

Davis, owner of The Green Mesquite BBQ & More restaurants, paid $1,400 for Scholz‘s hard assets, from the beer cooler to the barbecue pits to the picnic tables, and another $850 for the unopened beer and wine stock.

Davis acquired the lease on the legendary watering hole earlier this year and was scheduled to take over operations Saturday. The building is owned by Austin Saengerrunde, a local German singing group.

“What I did was protect the contents and the building until we get in here Saturday, ” Davis said.

The auction raised $2,310, which will go to pay off the Internal Revenue Service’s $9,700 tax lien against both Scholz and the family of the late Larry Bales, former manager of the bar and restaurant. The lien stems from unpaid 1995 income taxes.

Scholz will close for a month while Davis renovates the inside of the building. When it reopens in early July, he added, patrons will find “clean bathrooms, decent plumbing, better service and good food.”

Davis insisted that he will not lose the laid-back atmosphere that for 130 years made Scholz a popular meeting place for Austinites, university students and legislators. But he added that when Scholz-lovers return, “they’re going to notice a big difference.”

An Austin without Scholz Garten would be like an Austin without the Capitol.That is why aficionados of the venerable political watering hole — generations of them — should be pleased that the institution’s new handler is a Scholz historian.

….

Love for Scholz Garten

March 31, 1996

Come May, the Larry Bales family is relinquishing the lease to the institution, established in 1860 by August Scholz, to Tom Davis. Green Mesquite barbecue was successfully steered by Davis from one local eatery in 1980 into three today. Davis’ background and his affection for Scholz would seem to make him the right man, in the right place, to recall and restore the best of Scholz traditions while sprucing up the building’s interior and modernizing its kitchen and bathrooms.

The Bales family has served oceans of beer accompanied by miles-high platters of bean and cheese-swathed tortilla chips adorned with dark green circles of jalapenos over 30 decades to many a University of Texas student, many a youth league coach and many a politician and campaign follower. Now they are passing on the mantle of responsibility for one of Austin’s most treasured traditions.

The tradition is made up of intangibles. It consists of more than the building and the food, which have seen their upticks and their downturns. It consists of blooming and booming camaraderie beneath the trees in the garten. It exists in the ghosts that haunt the place, the ghosts of Legislative sessions past and future. It is reflected in the sloping wooden floors, worn-down and replaced as cowboy boots, tennis shoes, tassled loafers and high heels have walked across them. It consists of millions of hours of conversations, of promises made, kept and unkept. Political promises. Relationship promises.

That’s the way UT and Legislative alums remember it. But for the Bales family, and the Davis family by May, restaurateuring is hard work and unforgiving. Mistakes show up quickly.

Those who want to see Scholz‘s future unlimited — and who doesn’t? — would be well-advised to stop by Scholz‘s in the coming weeks. It would be a good time to wish the Bales family well and to wish the Davis family luck.

Exclusive: Aaron Franklin and partners bringing Hot Luck food and music festival to Austin in May

The founders of the forthcoming Hot Luck festival plan to blend world-class culinary talent, live music and a DIY Austin aesthetic for an extended weekend of serious fun and eats from people who don’t want anybody taking themselves too seriously.

James Beard Award winner Aaron Franklin, Fun Fun Fun Fest co-founder James Moody and Mike Thelin, co-founder of the food festival Feast Portland, have wedded their particular areas of expertise in food, music and production to form the event that will take place May 18-21 in Austin.

While it would be fair to call Hot Luck a festival, Moody uses lingo that resonates closely with many Texans to describe the multi-day event.

“It’s certainly going to be a big ol’ get-together. This is going to feel like the best-run tailgate you’ve ever been to. It’s going to be super organized behind the curtain, but it doesn’t feel that way. And it’s definitely ‘all are welcome,’” Moody said of the vibe, referencing the motto of the Mohawk, a bar and live music venue he co-founded in Austin 11 years ago.

Franklin Barbecue's Aaron Franklin (left) and Mohawk co-owner James Moody (right) are teaming up with Mike Thelin of Feast Portland to bring Hot Luck to Austin. (Credit: Matthew Odam)
Franklin Barbecue’s Aaron Franklin (left) and Mohawk co-owner James Moody (right) are teaming up with Mike Thelin of Feast Portland to bring Hot Luck to Austin. (Credit: Matthew Odam)

Hot Luck, its name evoking a potluck dinner and the heat that fuels Franklin’s trademark barbecue, as well as a subtle nod to legendary Texan Willie Nelson’s stomping grounds, will center around a main event featuring live-fire cooking. But the central activity is just the hub of a wheel that will spin off into multiple overlapping food and music events throughout the day and night, featuring about 35 chefs and friends of Franklin from Texas and across the country (and maybe a couple of international names) at 8 to 10 venues around town.

The founders want Hot Luck to mirror Feast in that there will be a sort of choose-your-own adventure nature to the fest, with people able to select activities a la carte throughout the weekend instead of being offered only one or two major attractions each day.

“A la carte ticketing allows an event to be engaged with by a wider and more diverse audience,” Thelin said. “If you want to buy an all-in pass to every Hot Luck event, there will be that option. But if you want to go to just one or two things, and spend the rest of your time enjoying the city, the region and all of the amazing restaurants, you can do that too.”

The one thing all of the Hot Luck events will have in common? A laid-back vibe and very little pomp and ceremony.

“The thing that is going to be super memorable about it is having amazing, world-class food on a paper plate,” Moody said. “And these chefs want to have a good time. They want to be around their peers and relax.”

“It’s meant to be kind of how we roll here in Austin …. Just hanging out drinking beers,” Franklin added.

And just because the man most synonymous with smoked meat in Central Texas is one of the founders, don’t expect Hot Luck to be a barbecue festival. Franklin said there may only be one barbecue cook on the invite list.

“I want to get people a little bit out of their comfort zones, but I really just want people to have fun and be able to be creative,” said Franklin, who will weld some custom cookery for the event. “People won’t feel pinned into a six-foot table and tasting portions. This is interactive.”

Moody and Franklin, who was the drummer in the visceral rock band Those Peabodys before being anointed the king of Central Texas barbecue, will curate the live music together, and they intend to program a schedule of shows that will have a little something for all musical tastes.

“We want the curation of music to be as thoughtful as the curation of the chefs,” Moody said.

Tickets for Hot Luck are slated to go on sale at the end of February. Pricing and specifics have not been finalized, but organizers said there will be a weekend package sold, as well as a la carte ticketing options. While some of the details around programming remain fluid, the founders, who have discussed creating such an event for years, are in tune with their guiding ethos.

“It’s much like when Franklin Barbecue started. That was super DIY. We made that place exactly how we wanted it; didn’t ask anyone. Don’t care, we’re doing what we want to do. You stand in line, you make friends, you drink some beers, you take your family there, you hang out, and you have a great time. And the hospitality level is hopefully off the charts,” Franklin said. “It’s not just about food; it’s about that whole experience.”

Paul Qui’s Kuneho opens January 2, with sneak peek the preceding week

Perfect bites at Kuneho: aged beef tongue, salmon butter, morcilla a la dinuguan, uni toast with lardo. (Credit: Mark Weatherford)
Perfect bites at Kuneho: aged beef tongue, salmon butter, morcilla a la dinuguan, uni toast with lardo. (Credit: Mark Weatherford)

Update: Kuneho will now open on January 4

James Beard Award-winning Paul Qui will return to the kitchen following the shutter of his eponymous restaurant, Qui.

He will open Kuneho (the name means “rabbit” in his native Tagalog) at 1600 E. Sixth Street on January 2, following a week of preview dinners and a sneak peek celebration event on New Year’s Eve. Qui closed his first restaurant in September, six months after his arrest for assault against his girlfriend in March. That case is ongoing, with a pre-trial hearing slated for February. Qui discussed his arrest and personal struggles in an interview with the Statesman this summer.

Kuneho will be more casual than its predecessor, serving sushi and globally inspired dishes, continuing Qui’s pursuit for “the perfect bite.” Dishes will include sunchoke dashi with Hausbar Farm vegetables and dried uni; and snapper with burnt savoy cabbage and a sauce made with nori, black pepper and yuzu. See the complete opening menu at bottom.

Qui will be joined in the kitchen by chef de cuisine Mia Li, a veteran of Thai Kun with both Chinese (father) and Thai (mother) roots. Kuneho will feature four separate spaces — a main dining room, cocktail lounge, sushi bar and patio — and be open Sunday-Thursday from 5 p.m. until 10 p.m. and Friday and Saturday until 11 p.m.

There will be preview dinners December 27-30, with dishes offered at 25-percent discount. Those attending earn access to the restaurant’s New Year’s Eve party. Reservations can be made by emailing reservations@kunehoatx.com or calling 512-436-9626.

The complete opening food menu is located below:

Perfect Bites

Quail egg + caviar, light soy sauce

Trout roe migas

Morcilla a la dinuguan

Mussel Escabeche

Peanut Gazpacho in a bite

Caviar toast

Uni toast with lardo

Foie Toast

Chawanmushi

Salmon Butter

Rabbit hand pie

Caramelized Eggplant

Kuneho Sushi

Aged Beef Tongue- 30 day age, black pepper, fish caramel

Enoki Mushroom- tamari

Hearts of Palm- peanut sauce, roasted peanuts

Crispy Onion

Smoked Short Rib- smoked tamari, fresh wasabi

Pork Jam- toboki, chicharonne

Foiegras- umeboshi pate de fruit, shiso

Avocado- yuzukosho, tamari

Sushi/Sashimi

Big eye tuna

Sustainable Blue Fin

Sustainable Blue Fin toro

Ora King Salmon

Yellowtail

Japanese Sea Bream

Black Bass

Sea Urchin

Scallop

Mackarel

Gulf Shrimp

Cold/Crudo

Kurodai Tiradito- black bass ginger, garlic, aji amarillo, olive oil

Madai Carpaccio- Japanese sea bream, garlic oil, smoked soy

Atun poke- big eye tuna, avocado, green apple, red onion, tamari, pumpkin seed oil

Kinilawin- cobia, coconut vinegar, coconut milk, red onion, cilantro, black pepper

Smoked Sake- ora king salmon, whey, green tea oil, crispy garlic

Mixta Ceviche- fin fish and shellfish marinated in citrus

Aji aji- horse mackerel, aji amarillo, leche de tigre

Sabe Escabeche- east coast mackarel, ponzu, tomatoes, herbs

Sunchoke Dashi- a selection of vegetables from HausBar Farms, dried uni, croutons

Avo Shell- avocado, yuzu, blue crab, savory kuro cereal

Snacks

Roti canai with curry rabbit and parmesan

Sweet greens salad with carrot ginger dressing

Sunomono- pickle plate

Dorsey’s vegetable with lemon miso hummus

Kuneho queen crab

Nabe and More

Hamachi bibimbap

Vegetable bibimbap

Sisig + fried egg

Mussel with dinuguan sauce and jamon

Sizzling rice ochazuke

Poached grouper in kombu milk broth

Ben’s Snapper with burnt nappa, nori, black pepper, yuzu

All the Rolls

Kimchi and velveeta eggrolls

Hearts of palm lumpia

Austin Roll- fish cake, cucumber, avocado, sweet chili vinegar

Philly Speer Roll- smoked ora king salmon, laughing cow cheese, ash

Negihama, smoke tamari, fresh wasabi

Negitoro, smoked tamari, fresh wasabi

Fried Shrimp roll, green mango, kuneho sauce, crispy stuff

Super Crunchy Salmon Roll

Big Beef Roll, yummy beef parts, avocado, cucumber, yuzukosho miso

Agemono fried goodness

Fried Half chicken, banana ketchup, nam jim, pan de mie and pickles

Pork rib nam, pork jam, cucumber

Hamachi kama

Sake kama

Seasonal tempura vegetables, tensuyu

Chicken Karaage

Chicken ribs , master bbq sauce, acharra

Tonkatsu – kurobuta pork chop, shredded cabbage, fruit sauce

Tonguekatsu- aged beef tongue, hot mustard, milk bread, pickles

Yakimono/ Grill

Aged beef tongue, fish caramel, hot mustard

Smoked short rib, seasonal kimchi and pickles

Pork Belly Lechon fresh asian pear salad

Unicorn en Vaso- grilled corn with sea urchin and kewpie in a cup

Elotes- grilled corn Japanese texas style

Smoked short ribs, seasonal kimchi

Pork belly Lechon, asian pear salad

Kuneho Sweets

Foie “Roti Boy” coffee bun

Matcha Mochi and Valrhona ganache

Japanese Cheesecake