ELM Restaurant Group, who are behind popular Austin restaurants Easy Tiger, 24 Diner, and Arro, announced last week that they are bringing a new Italian concept to downtown Austin. Located in the former Bar Louie space, the yet-to-be-named restaurant will be the group's fourth restaurant along 6th Street. Eater spoke with executive chef Andrew Curren about the new project, slated to open sometime this summer.
Curren's passion for Italian food is rooted in what he calls "the culture of wine, food and family" that he first discovered studying abroad in Tuscany. All of ELM's concepts are built around "hospitality and comfort," and Curren says Italian food embodies that approach. "If you think of food that Americans love, the comfort of pizza and pasta and wine is really up there."
Curren says that ELM could have done another 24 Diner or Easy Tiger, but he doesn't want to "replicate a chain. " He points out the other local restaurant groups are pursuing a similar expansion strategy, whether it be Uchi and Philip Speer's new bakery project St. Philip or Paul Qui expanding into fine dining after starting out with East Side King. "Chains don't make it in Austin," Curren says. "A restaurant has to have soul, or customers see right through it."
As for ELM's epic Sixth Street domination, Curren says it's a product of happy accidents, not any overarching strategy. "Sixth has been good to us," he says, "and we try to be good to it."
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