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Mexican Spot Licha’s Cantina Buys 20-Year-Old Italian Restaurants

South Congress’ Vespaio and Enoteca Vespaio are under new ownership

Snapper at Vespaio
Snapper at Vespaio
Nadia Chaudhury is the editor of Eater Austin covering food and pop culture, as well as a photographer, writer, and frequent panel moderator and podcast guest.

Longtime South Congress Italian restaurants Vespaio and Enoteca Vespaio have been sold to the restaurant’s executive chef, as well as the owner of East Sixth Mexican restaurant Licha’s Cantina. The ownership switch of the 1610 South Congress Avenue buildings happened at the beginning of 2019, according to Austin 360.

Vespaio executive chef Ryan Samson and Licha’s Cantina owner Daniel Brooks bought the twinned Eater 38 restaurants from previous owners Claude Benayoun, Alan Lazarus, and Scott Bolin. Brooks has a connection to Vespaio as he was a former general manager.

Under Samson and Brooks’ reign, the Italian restaurants will mostly stay the same, albeit with some small space changes.

Benayoun, Lazarus, and Bolin opened Vespaio in 1998, followed by the comparatively more casual Enoteca Vespaio in 2005. Brooks opened Licha’s Cantina, the Mexican City-inspired restaurant, in 2014, on East 6th Street.

Similarly, the owners of nearby Italian restaurant Botticelli’s, Andrew and Matthew Botticelli, had opened another South Congress restaurant, Little Barrel and Brown in 2013. Then they sold the space to Sébastien Charbonneaux in 2017, who changed it to French-inspired tapas spot August & Marcel Wine Bar a year later.

Licha's Cantina

1306 East 6th Street, , TX 78702 (512) 480-5960 Visit Website


1610 S Congress Ave, Austin, TX 78704 (512) 441-6100 Visit Website

Enoteca Vespaio

1610 South Congress Avenue, , TX 78704 (512) 441-7672 Visit Website