The Hickory Street Bar And Grill was one of 2011's restaurant casualties in Austin, but a group of restaurant and bar owners have stepped in to reopen the restaurant in its original location. The Austin Business Journal reports that the owner of Barcelona and Third Base Sports Bar will bring back Hickory Street, minus the "bar and grill" nomenclature, at 8th and Congress in February. The ABJ's Cody Lyon talks to new owner Brendan Puthoff:
In addition to dropping part of the original name, Puthoff said the group will move the restaurant from salad bar to counter service by day with full table service at night. The owners have brought on Camden Stuerzenberger as head chef who is creating a menu that focuses on locally sourced ingredients. Stuerzenberger is a former employee of Bess Bistro and Walton’s Fancy & Staple.However, it looks like even the new Hickory Street will be a temporary gig: there's a high-rise hotel still scheduled to go in at the location, though not for a couple of years. Puthoff and company have been offered a "flexible lease" to open Hickory Street in the meantime.
UPDATE: We just got off the phone with Puthoff, who says the new Hickory Street will be in operation as long as construction hasn't begun on the redevelopment. When that happens, they'll move elsewhere: "Ultimately, it's a concept that can be duplicated in other locations." Hickory Street will move "north or south" during construction, and when redevelopment is complete, they hope to "come back to the site" on Congress Avenue.
Right now, says Puthoff, "Our focus initially is going to be a laser beam focus on culinary credibility." Puthoff says he gave Chef Stuerzenberger a mandate to be "delicious and memorable and affordable and quick," and that most dishes will be in the $6 to $12 range, filling a mid-range niche that settles in above fast food but below the high-end places that are "not necessarily accessible for people to get lunch at unless company's buying."
Some menu hints: Hickory Street will serve fast-casual style so that office folks can get in and out in a matter of minutes, toting items like in-house smoked salmon for lox in the morning, gluten-free options or a shortbread mac 'n cheese. Says Puthoff: "I want to focus primarily on bringing good food and a good happy hour setting back to this place, and a good patio dining setting back to the area."