The closing of Fino, the deep-rooted West Campus restaurant, on April 19 was a sad one for Austinites who frequented the Mediterranean-inspired place, including Texas Monthly’s Pat Sharpe. She spoke to co-owners Lisa and Emmett Fox about the end of Fino, as well as their new project Cantine, an Italian cafe and bar that’s set to open in May in the Lamar Union complex. Asti, the couple’s Italian restaurant, is still open in Hyde Park. Here are a few facts gleaned from the interview:
1) The decision to shut down the restaurant came about slowly. Business was doing well at the beginning when Fino was known. "We tried to keep our name in the public eye," Emmett said. "We called it the dog and pony show." They worked the media game, and even contemplated a billboard that ended up being too expensive. In the end, "with so many new restaurants opening in Austin, things started slowing noticeably," said Lisa.
2) Money was raised for funding Cantine and Fino through private investors. Shares for Cantine were $100,000 each; for Fino, $25,000.
3) Restaurant architect Michael Hsu is designing Cantine’s new space. The look of the restaurant will be, according to Emmett:
simple and organic. The walls will be covered in loblolly pine "tiles"—as [Hsu] calls them—that come from trees that were scorched in the big forest fires in Bastrop a few years back. The trees belonged to a friend, who had to cut them down.
4) Don’t worry, some of Fino’s classic dishes will still appear on Cantine’s menu. This includes "the fried goat cheese with honey and red onion jam, for sure" said Lisa, and "the pork pinchitos on a skewer." There will also be, Emmett added, "the fried olives. And some of the dips, like the muhummara." Specials from Asti will appear, too, like the white pizza. Cantine will also feature freshly-made pasta using the restaurant’s new pasta machine.