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Anticipated South African Restaurant Isn’t Coming to Austin Anymore

Houston’s Peli Peli isn’t opening in downtown

A dish from Peli Peli
A dish from Peli Peli
Peli Peli/Facebook
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.

It turns out that Houston’s popular South African restaurant Peli Peli isn’t coming to Austin anymore. The restaurant was slated to open in downtown Austin at 201 West 3rd Street.

Peli co-owner Thomas Nguyen confirmed the nixed plans to Eater. He also mentioned that he and fellow co-owners Michael Tran and executive chef Paul Friedman are in the middle of pending litigation against the intended space’s landlord, the Amli Downtown, which has been ongoing since June 2018.

Friedman is also accused of alleged sexual harassment towards a former waitress, Madeline Mirza, at one of the Houston locations of Peli Peli in 2017, as Eater Houston reported. Mirza alleged that Friedman “drunkenly sexually assaulted” her several times during her employment, and that when she brought up the incidences to Peli’s human resources department, they “blew her off.” The case is set to go to court in April.

Peli announced it was coming to Austin, which would’ve been its first location outside of the Houston area, back in July 2016. It was taking over the space formerly held by Mexican restaurant Cantina Laredo (which closed because of “high overhead costs,” competition, and a health department miscommunication).

Ahead of what-would’ve-been-its-opening, the restaurant previewed dishes at Austin City Limits Music Festival in 2017. It also raised money for construction through crowdfunding investment site NextSeed.

Peli Peli is known for its dishes spanning French, Dutch, African, Malay, and Indian influences. The first Houston restaurant opened in 2009, followed by two more locations and a fast-casual offshoot.

Nguyen isn’t completely ruling out an Austin location, but that will have to wait until the court case is finished.

This article has been updated to include the sexual harassment allegation against Peli Peli’s chef.

Peli Peli

201 West 3rd Street, Austin, Texas 78701