The co-owner of Austin’s best bar Nickel City, Travis Tober, is opening a new Texas icehouse and fried chicken restaurant in Lockhart with co-owner and partner Jim Lee. Old Pal will be located at 100 East Market Street in Lockhart Square starting sometime in mid-May for dine-in and takeout services.
The casual bar will serve fried chicken inspired by one of Tober’s favorite dive bars, Reel M Inn in Portland, along with jojos, a popular Pacific Northwest dish of battered and fried potato wedges. Overseeing the menu is consulting chef (and Idaho native) Rich Reimbolt, who is also the executive chef of Austin restaurant Better Half.
Drinks-wise, Old Pal will have iced bottled beers, American whiskeys, and agave spirits. There will also be a short cocktail menu of four agave-based, four whiskey-based, and one frozen cocktail that Tober describes as an alcoholic iteration of Whataburger’s Dr Pepper milkshake.
For to-go services, Old Bar is setting up a vintage grab-and-go food display with fried chicken and canned cocktails.
Old Pal’s branding and interior design is done by Paul Fucik of graphic design studio Arts & Recreation (which also worked on Nickel City materials). The space will add outdoor dining parklets after it opens in the late spring.
Currently, Tober, who recently moved to Lockhart, oversees the Austin and Fort Worth locations of Nickel City and Detroit-style food truck Delray Cafe (along with co-owners Brandon and Zane Hunt of Via 313 fame). Lee was most recently the catering manager for Amy’s Ice Creams. Before that, he spent over 21 years working at various Four Seasons hotels across the country. That included the Austin one, which is where he met Tober who was working at the Lobby Lounge at the time. Both Fucik and Reimbolt have smaller partner roles with Old Pal.
The address had previously been home to brewpub Caracara Brewing Company, which opened in February 2018 and closed in September 2019.
Old Pal’s hours will be from 11 a.m. to midnight daily.