One of Austin’s longest-running family-owned restaurants, the Original Hoffbrau Steakhouse, is expanding after 83 years in business. The steakhouse is converting its parking lot into a patio, beer garden, and live music venue called Rustic Tap. The 100-year-old plumbing is also being replaced and the battered old "outhouses" are being upgraded to proper bathrooms during the process.
General Manager Price Howard told Eater that Rustic Tap, while a separate entity from the Hoffbrau, will serve "tenderloin tidbits" from the restaurant, along with "bar-friendly food" like chicken tenders and mozzarella sticks. It will feature 24 beer taps with all local Austin brews and a full bar with craft cocktails. "We really want to emphasize the local Austin community," said Price. He estimates that Rustic Tap will open around February 5, "but no sooner than that."
The objective, he said, is to attract the "late-night crowds" that have cropped up in the changing expanse of West Sixth Street between Congress and Lamar. Last year, Arro added an enclosed patio with a full bar, while Steampunk Saloon (complete with East Side King's Thai-Kun truck) opened in the old Opal Divine's spot. ELM Group plans to open Irene's, a New American joint dedicated to partner Chad Gluckson's hard-living grandmother. Meanwhile, the more upscale Bess Bistro shuttered in September 2015, to be replaced with a new concept yet to be announced.
There have been very few changes in how the Hoffbrau operates over the course of its lifetime; the restaurant wasn’t even air-conditioned until the 1990s, and the most significant development since then has been the addition of a full bar in summer of 2015.
Opened in 1932, the Hoffbrau was the brainchild of brothers Robert and Tom Hamby. The Hoffbrau was one of the first restaurants in Austin to serve draft beer, for a nickel per glass. It wasn’t until World War II when Robert Hamby started serving steaks along with the beer, using a two-burner flat-top grill, which is on display in the restaurant. Robert Hamby’s great-grandson, Zach Ray, has been operating the Hoffbrau for the past few years, along with his mother, Mary Gail Hamby.