Former Austin Dive Bar Owner’s Death
Ginny Kalmbach, a former owner of longtime Allandale dive bar and honky-tonk Little Longhorn Saloon, died on Wednesday, December 30, 2020, according to the bar’s Facebook page. Kalmbach originally worked at the bar (then known as Dick’s Little Longhorn Saloon) as a bartender. She inherited the business after original owner Dick Setliff died in 1982, according to Austin 360. She changed the name to Ginny’s, and she and local musician Dale Watson started hosting the famous chicken shit bingo starting in 2000. When Kalmbach retired in 2013, Watson, Terry Gaona, and her husband David Gaona took over the bar (Watson has since left the bar). During the COVID-19 pandemic, Little Longhorn Saloon has remained closed, but has been livestreaming events, including chicken shit bingo, and raising money through GoFundMe.
Los Angeles Sushi Pop-Up Comes to Austin
Former Top Chef contestant Phillip Frankland Lee brought his Los Angeles restaurant Sushi|Bar to Austin in the form of a pop-up this winter. The nightly omakase takes place within the indoor private dining room of East Austin cafe Bento Picnic. The $125 six-seat meal will feature 17 courses plus drinks and desserts (hamachi and sweet corn pudding, roasted bone marrow with wasabi, roasted soybean sherbert).
There are no initial plans to offer any sort of takeout service at this point during Austin’s Stage 5 recommendations. The pop-up restaurant is installing plexiglass dividers between parties at the sushi bar while following all COVID-19 mitigation regulations. Lee is also thinking about relocating the omakase to Bento’s outdoor space, but there are no firm plans yet.
This is Lee’s first venture outside of California. Currently, Los Angeles restaurants are not allowed to offer any sort of on-site dining since mid-November. The Eater Young Gun semi-finalist in 2016 operates a plethora of restaurants back in his home state under his hospitality group Scratch Restaurants, with co-founder Margarita Kallas-Lee. These include New American restaurant Scratch|Bar & Kitchen, Magic Bar, Italian restaurant Pasta|Bar, and small plates spot Leviathan.
Sushi|Bar’s Austin pop-up opened as of Tuesday, December 29, 2020. Reservations are available through January 30, 2021, with seatings at 5 p.m., 7 p.m., and 9 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.
Austin Restaurant Breaks
Several local restaurants are taking breaks this month:
- Rosewood barbecue truck Micklethwait Craft Meats is temporarily closed for essentially the month, from Monday, January 4 through Saturday, January 30
- East Austin taco spot Nixta Taqueria’s break started on Sunday, January 3, and runs through Monday, January 11.
- South Austin barbecue and tacos spot Valentina’s Tex Mex BBQ is briefly closed from Monday, January 4 through Friday, January 8.
Austin Signage Theft
Someone stole two of Clarksville diner and pharmacy Nau’s Enfield Drug’s antique Coca-Cola signs in mid-December, as reported by KXAN. Owner Laura Labay filed a police report, she is asking for further information about the burglary; and there is a reward for the return of the signs.
French shop Julie Myrtille Bakery is selling galettes des Rois, meant to celebrate Epiphany, throughout January. The item, also known as a French’s king’s cake, is available through January 31.
National Restaurant Lists
Magazine Esquire’s list of the “100 restaurants America can’t afford to lose” includes Franklin Barbecue and Louie Mueller Barbecue. Then, luxury food publication Robb Report included Nixta Taqueria’s sweet potato and pecan taco on its list of best dishes of 2020.
Forthcoming Texas Cookbook
Texas Monthly is going to publish a very Texasy cookbook.