Favorite Austin bakery and restaurant Texas French Bread caught fire on Monday night, January 24. While no one was injured, the building has been declared a total loss by fire crews, as reported by KVUE. Texas French Bread is located at 2900 Rio Grande Street in the Heritage neighborhood.
Workers called firefighters to the building because it was filling with smoke, and by the time firefighters arrived around 11 p.m., flames were shooting through the roof, as shared by the Austin Fire Department. Per the AFD, the fire started because of “mechanical failure,” according to its Twitter account, and it caused $1.1 million in structural damages and $500,000 in content damages.
Founder Judy Willcott started Texas French Bread as a wholesale bread business from her home before opening her first location at 34th and Guadalupe in 1981. Gaining popularity by supplying bread to local institutions like fine dining restaurant Jeffrey’s and supermarket Whole Foods, she expanded to 11 locations around the city. The Rio Grande location was the last location, owned by Willcott’s son Murph Willcott (who himself is known for the fine writing in his pleasant newsletter missives). The bakery is known for outstanding baguettes, croissants, Hyde Park fudge cake, and holiday cookies, as well as an impressive dinner menu that uses local ingredients.
The building at 2900 Rio Grande was built in 1939, and in the 1970s was music venue Rome Inn.
The future of Texas French Bread is unknown at this time. Eater has reached out for more information. An Austinite organized a GoFundMe campaign to raise money to support the staff.
Update, 4:16 p.m.: This article, originally published at 9:16 a.m., has been updated to include the GoFundMe campaign for Texas French Bread staffers and the Austin Fire Department’s determination of the fire cause and damages estimates.