After months of searching, Burnet Road institution The Omelettry has officially signed a lease on Airport Boulevard. The move was first reported in yesterday's Food-o-File, and The Omelettry confirmed the with a Facebook posting.
Eater spoke with Jesse Carpenter, who manages the restaurant along with his father Kenny. Carpenter shares more details about the new location, as well as how he's moved from being "heartbroken" to "excited" about the move.
Can you give a little bit of background on the Omelettry's history for those who aren't familiar?
My father opened The Omelettry in 1978 on Burnet. Magnolia used to be an Omlettry, too, you know. The Magnolia Cafe on Lake Austin Boulevard was originally The Omelettry West. My dad's partners in that venture, one of them went on to start Kerbey Lane, and the other took on Omelettry West and made it into Magnolia Cafe.
We have been trying to buy the place on Burnet for 36 years. We had 10 year leases, and every time it came up we'd offer to buy, but the owners were never ready to sell. Our lease was coming up again in June of 2015, and owners finally said they were ready to sell. But the way the market has gone for past four years, the place has literally tripled in value. It's unfortunate that they want to sell it when it's worth more than we can afford making eggs and pancakes.
The landlords have been very flexible, and they're not going to hold us to our lease here. We've been looking the past year. We were looking on Burnet and Lamar, but the way the real estate market is, every time we'd find something, there was already a deal. I really like that stretch of Airport between 2222 and I-35. I love Kome and Quality Seafood and I Luv Video. That's what Burnet used to be like. Literally the rent is half the price.
What will be different about this new location? What are you looking forward to?
The Concorde Shopping Center gave us the end cap. It has cool funky windows and lots of parking. The new ACC campus is going in, and Mueller is right across from I-35. We hope our old customers will be able to follow us over there, too.
We currently run about 30 minute wait on weekends, and a 20 minute ticket time. The kitchen so small you can only fit two guys back there, it's like a ship's galley. We're doubling our kitchen at the new location.
I can't do murals on the outside, but there's this really long hallway where I can do one. We're taking all our chairs and our booths, so we'll make it feel as much the same as we can. And we're not changing menu or any of that stuff. The only thing I'm going to change is we're going to take credit cards.
How long will you close during the transition?
We're hoping to only close two weeks. That will just be be moving things over and doing dry runs with friends and family. Our goal is to do that around October, but you can't predict with the city. We're getting our permits right now.
Are you sad at all about leaving this original location?
I was heartbroken. My parents had a playpen in the office. I literally grew up here. My first memories are of this building. It's kind of weird love/hate relationship. I've spent countless hours fixing plumbing and electricity, keeping things together. I'm excited about having a new restaurant. We spent almost $17,000 in repairs last year.
It's a community center, we have hundreds of regulars, we know their names and what they eat the way. The building is not up to code, so probably the lot will be bulldozed and turned into mixed use vertical. I'm not opposed to progress, but it would be sad to see my home get bulldozed.
I went through a phase where I was was really sad we couldn't buy the place. Now I'm excited about a new chapter. We did a record day on Saturday during Southby, and you can tell the wheels are about to fall off. The kitchen is only so big and we can only do so much. I'm excited to finally grow up.
· Food-O-File [Chronicle]
· All The Omelettry Coverage [EATX]