Bryce Gilmore, the lauded chef behind two of the city’s critically-acclaimed restaurants Barley Swine and Odd Duck, is switching gears for his third project. Instead of a sit-down, table service establishment, Sour Duck Market will become his new fast-casual restaurant, bakery, marketplace, and bar all in one place, found on the edge of Central East Austin.
Sour Duck’s goal is to serve good food available for lower price points. Expect “less-composed” dishes, like burgers, sandwiches, tacos, etc. served on paperware and trays rather than ceramics, all made quickly.
“It’ll feel like you’re eating at a food trailer,” Gilmore said, and he should know. The first iteration of Odd Duck was the orange trailer on South Lamar, which gave way to the brick and mortar restaurant. That trailer will be used for Sour Duck’s smoked meats needs.
Soft serve is on deck (“a very efficient way to sell ice cream”), along with baked goods like pies and breads. If its recent bake sale is any indication, expect sweet and savory kolache and danishes, tarts, croissants, cookies, and cold brew. Sour Duck partner Mark Buley, who is driving the bread program, is drawing inspiration from the iconic Zingerman’s Deli in Ann Arbor, Michigan, known for its carb goods.
“It’s very understandable that people have to compromise with the quality of their food because they have to provide for their family,” Gilmore said. “Let’s give them another option where they know all the food they’re getting is from a responsible source and overall healthy for their family.”
Gilmore, along with Buley and the other partners Dylan Gilmore, and Jason James, all care about food, especially when it comes to sourcing. That’s where Sour Duck will excel, by highlighting and engaging more Texas farmers and bringing their goods to Austin customers.
Since restaurants tend to rely on local produce and goods, area farms should grow to keep up with the pace. While it is currently happening, there is still room for improvement, as Gilmore sees it. “We have to do do everything we can to make it a viable option for people to get into the farming business,” he said, “and if we can continue to support them on a larger scale, that’s more of a reality.”
As for retail items, Gilmore isn’t completely sure what that will look like at this point. It could potentially include housemade pickles, hot sauce, plus goods from local farms. He is toying with the idea of a Saturday morning farmers market too. Nothing is set in stone, though: “It’s going to be an evolution,” he said.
The physical Sour Duck space comprises of two building, the first with the bakery (that will service Odd Duck as well), dine-in space, and counter. It’s meant for quick service, with grab-and-go sandwiches and other such items, with 20 or so seats available.
The second building will include an office and ground floor bar. Gilmore is envisioning garage doors that can be used to open up the room. There will be 12 beer taps (from local breweries) and four cocktail ones.
The East Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard address was a bonus to the Sour Duck crew, since it’s in an entirely different neighborhood from the other two restaurants. “We have this triangle thing going on right now, which is fun,” Gilmore said. He hopes to attract downtown daytime business as well as tailgating opportunities since campus is nearby.
Austin’s restaurant landscape is still quickly growing — over 100 places opened this year so far — and Gilmore knows this. “We do at times feel the restaurant saturation, the growth for the businesses has kind of plateaued,” he said, but he still has hope.
“I don’t think of it as negative as some people do,” he said. “I accept it as a reality, and just do our part to ensure it’s growing in the right way.”
Sour Duck is his third restaurant, after all, and he’s doing his part to serve Austin in the best way he can. It’s projected to open before the end of the year.