How does an old-school barbecue destination fit into downtown Austin? The team behind the new Cooper's Old Time Pit Bar-B-Que at 217 Congress hope to create "the Hopdoddy of barbecue." Like the ridiculously popular burger restaurant, guests will be able to order drinks in line while waiting for their smokey meat by the pound, cut on butcher blocks and served on trays.
Eater spoke with managing partner Bruce Evans and "swiss army knife" Bo Duncan about the partnership between their new restaurant space and Llano institution Cooper's. Evans, who has a background in ranching and real estate, leased the building before he had officially decided on a concept. After consulting with local experts, including the tourism board, he decided to partner with Cooper's in order to bring hill country barbecue to downtown. Duncan explains, "We won't be exclusive like Franklin Barbecue. Cooper's is barbecue from before barbecue was cool."
The historic building, which previously housed Copa Bar and Grill, will be extensively remodeled in order to add a rooftop garden and several large rotisserie pits which will "pump mesquite smoke down Congress," according to Evans. The new restaurant will have somewhere between 450-500 seats, and could be open for as long as 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 a.m. Live music is in the works as well.
While the proximity of the new JW Marriott right next door, as well the nearby Austin Convention Center, was certainly a factor, Evans and Duncan intend Cooper's to appeal to locals as well as to tourists. The renovation is focused on restoring much of the building's original facade and interior, and the duo argue that Austinites will embrace a Cooper's they don't have to drive out to Llano to enjoy. Cooper's Austin is slated to in fall of 2014.
· 217 Congress [Facebook]
· All Cooper's Coverage [EATX]