Historic South Austin diner Hill's Cafe will not close, despite last month's speculation to that effect from former owner Bob Cole. Yes, former owner: Trade Logic has acquired the struggling restaurant, adding it to its "growing list of iconic Austin institutions including Star Seeds Cafe, Cain and Abel's, Abel's on the Lake, El Arroyo and the Tavern." They'll be expanding the cafe's hours, opening on Sunday and Monday, and may potentially add breakfast service.
In order to maintain the restaurant's South Austin integrity, the group has brought on ribmaster Art Blondin, of South Lamar's shuttered Artz Rib House.
"They want to pretty much bring it back to what it used to be," Blondin tells Eater Austin. He says he's come on board to help redo the menu and rearrange the kitchen—physically, that is, as they're keeping the current staff. They're also looking at copies of the original Hill's menu for inspiration, says Blondin: "They're keeping the integrity of the place."
But the big news for Blondin is that Trade Logic will help him reopen Artz Rib House in its original location on South Lamar under the name Abel's Rib House later this year.
When Artz closed last year, Blondin took a brief turn in the kitchen at Jax in West Campus, but the restaurant didn't last in the notoriously fickle location. That put Blondin on what he describes as a "sabbatical," but he's anxious to get back in the kitchen.
"I was getting kind of bored," says Blondin, laughing. He says that getting to focus on the food, and not the restaurant management, will be a relief. "I'll get to go home and not take the place home with me."