Forthcoming far south Austin public market St. Elmo is adding two new food and drink tenants: Dripping Springs brewery Family Business Beer Co., from Supernatural actors Jensen and Danneel Ackles; and an unknown shop from Lick Honest Ice Creams. The 4329 South Congress Avenue public market is slated to open sometime in 2019, tentatively October.
This will be Family Business Beer Co.’s first Austin-proper brewery (the original opened in Dripping Springs earlier this year). Head brewer Nate Seale sees the space as an opportunity to delve into experimental beers since the brewery will be much smaller. “We’re looking at it as our potential test lab,” he said.
Family Business’ St. Elmo taproom will serve those beers, as well as its staple ones like Hamilton Pale and the Grackle since the two breweries will exchange products. People will be able to grab beers and explore the marketplace too. Seale is also looking forward to working with fellow St. Elmo neighbors on collaborative beers with ingredients from those markets and restaurants, as well as offer pairings for dishes.
The neighborhood is even made more appealing since it’s becoming a bonafide brewery district, with (512) Brewing Company. St. Elmo Brewing Company, and Skull Mechanix Brewing.
Family Business’ St. Elmo expansion was in the talks already while they were opening out in Dripping Springs. The beers are already being distributing in the Austin-area, though on a small scale, found at places like Radio Coffee & Beer and Whichcraft.
While Lick co-owners Anthony Sobotik and Chad Palmatier aren’t sharing exactly what their St. Elmo shop will entail, ice cream will be involved. Lick began in 2011 on South Lamar and expanded with two more Austin shops and one out in San Antonio.
The entire market is being developed by Maker Bros. and Fenix Global Investors, along with Carlin Company, the latter which has worked on similar projects out in Napa Valley (Oxbow Public Market) and San Francisco (Ferry Building Marketplace).
There is a local approach to St. Elmo’s merchant selection with an emphasis on newer ideas. Already slated for St. Elmo include Mignette, a new diner and bakery from Olamaie chef Michael Fojtasek; Salt & Time’s second restaurant, which will include the counter-service restaurant portion, as well as its butcher shop, produce market, and juice bar; and Texas Hill Country Olive Company’s first retail shop.
The companies envision St. Elmo as a place that “becomes part of the cultural fabric of Austin,” said Brandon Bolin of Maker Bros. He became familiar with the land, with its school bus factory/furniture store building, while rehearsing at the nearby Music Lab. The opportunity to purchase the plot came up, and he didn’t want to pass it up. “We have to save this building, or its fate will be the wrecking ball.”
Steve Carlin of Carlin Company emphasized that St. Elmo is not a food hall, rather a public market: “Primarily, a food hall is essentially the fourth type of restaurant experience. They’re not necessarily there to accommodate shoppers,” he said. Whereas a public market is where “people go to the market to shop, then they also go to the market to eat, it’s all very social.”
There are plans to add a seafood market, coffee shop, some sort of barbecue joint, cheese, and other restaurants, as well as retail shops with books and ceramics, all to be announced later. They want it to serve as a community space, with plans for holidays and events too.
There will be 25 merchants altogether with owner-operator capacities. Outside of food and drink, the space will include apartments, offices, and a boutique hotel, as well as indoor and outdoor space. Everything is being designed by architecture firm Andersson-Wise.