A new fast-casual Caribbean restaurant opened in the north campus area of Austin by co-owners and brothers Michael and Patrick Butigian. Island Thyme Grill is found on 2915 Guadalupe Street, Unit A, and is serving as of today, Wednesday, October 7. To-go orders can be placed in person, with online ordering to come later.
Island Thyme’s menu is simple: customizable rice bowls, salads, and wraps, with various meats, sides, and dressings. Think jerk chicken and steak, mojo pork, coconut curry beef, and lots of beans, roasted peppers, and pineapple. There are also vegetarian and vegan options with Beyond Beef Crumbles, and plantains. Drinks-wise, there are aguas frescas, sodas, a slushie, a boozy pina colada, and beer, among others.
The create-your-own set-up makes sense given as the space used to be Austin’s only location of New York City-based Middle Eastern food cart-restaurant chain Halal Guys, which closed in 2018.
The aesthetics for Island Thyme are very pastel and bright. There’s a mural outside of the restaurant designed by Eme Design Studio and painted by artist Lucas Aoki. Its social media streams also featured animated videos depicting tropical birds, fruits, plants, and trees in pinks, purples, and pale yellows.
Because of the novel coronavirus pandemic, the restaurant is implementing social distanced lines, hand sanitizer stations, and installed plexiglass separating the cashier from guests.
The brothers grew up in New York, where they spent a lot of time in neighborhoods with big Caribbean populations. Michael — who is the chef of the Austin restaurant — graduated from the Culinary Institute of America. After that, he managed several fast-casual restaurants in New York, including Rex Burger & Lobster in Long Island. He also worked as a Disney World chef at Magic Kingdom and Hollywood Studios. They decided to open a restaurant in Austin because Patrick, who had worked in the music industry, was already in the city.
Island Thyme’s hours are from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and then from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday.
Update, October 7, 11:26 a.m.: This article, originally published on December 6, 2019, has been updated to include Island Thyme’s opening status and menu details.