Martha Stewart filmed a segment with Austin-based vodka company Tito’s showcasing the possibilities of vodka that don’t involve drinking. It’s a nod to Dry January, a month when people make the effort to not drink alcohol as a break. The result is Stewart using the vodka for all sorts of purposes, from removing odors from boots to adding into pasta sauce to a cleaner to using the physical bottle as a meat tenderizer to hydrating flower arrangements, and ending on her drinking a martini.
This is the same company that poked fun at the whole hard seltzer trend by selling an empty can last summer.
South Congress restaurant closes again
Tex-Mex chain Trudy’s seafood restaurant Trudy’s Del Mar is now officially closed as of sometime in very late December 2022 or early January 2023. The company opened the 1600 South Congress Avenue restaurant in December 2021 in the former South Congress Cafe space (which was also under the restaurant’s umbrella). The company plans on holding onto the address and will open a new restaurant in the spring of 2023. Also, it’s planning on opening Trudy’s is opening a location out in College Station, which will be found at 1200 University Drive also starting sometime in the spring.
Hargett Hunter Capital Management is the newer ownership company of Trudy’s; it had won the auction to purchase the company during an auction following the original owner’s bankruptcy filing. This included South Congress Cafe and Trudy’s Burnet Road, West 30th Street, and Little Texas Lane locations. Trudy’s Four Star Boulevard location was sold separately from the auction, and Uchi co-owner Daryl Kunik bought it.
Lockhart barbecue pitmaster passes away
Smitty’s was born of a split from another Lockhart barbecue restaurant, Kreuz Market, which was opened in 1948 by Edgar Schmidt. After a whole barbecue-family feud, he moved Kreuz into a new address and his sister Nina turned the original location into Smitty’s, and it’s been in the family ever since. Fullilove, who is Edgar’s grandson, had been running the restaurant’s daily operations. The funeral took place on January 7.
Two coffee shop openings
The city got two new coffee shops over the past season. The first is Daydreamer Coffee (not to be confused with the forthcoming bar Day Dreamer) at 2400 Seton Avenue on the Drag as of November 2022. This is the company’s first open-to-the-public location, after one in nearby apartment building Rambler in Austin, and a similar one in Atlanta and Gainesville. The menu includes espresso drinks, matcha, honey oat lattes, and other drinks, along with Quack’s baked goods and Tacodeli breakfast tacos.
And then there’s Vision Coffee Shop, which opened at 601 South Congress Avenue, Suite 500 in the Travis Heights neighborhood in early January 2023. The menu touts what it describes as coffees, matcha, and teas made with adaptogenic ingredients. Co-owners and sisters Adara Ostdiek and Sabra Stratford started Vision as a food truck in September 2021 and turned it into a physical cafe.
Hill Country activity center decides to focus on just pickleball
Dripping Springs activity center-slash-bar-slash-restaurant Dreamland is undergoing a revamp. Starting early this month, it slimmed down its offerings to just pickleball court rentals, Its other areas — the miniature golf course, disc golf, restaurant, and bar — will be closed. It plans on making those activities available during what it is calling its Dreamland Days in the future.
Funds for Black food businesses
Nonprofits the LEE Initiative and Southern Restaurants for Racial Justice awarded Black-owned restaurants and food-related businesses money through the Black Kitchen Initiative in partnership with Heinz as a way of providing longer-term financial support. For Texas, this includes San Antonio shared commercial kitchen space Alamo Kitchens, Houston restaurant Black Girl Tamales, and Katy’s cart and restaurant chain That’s My Dog.
Tracking Austin events
RL Reeves Jr — aka The Scrumptious Chef — is hosting his first-time-in-a-while gumbo pop-up this weekend. The offerings include a New Orleans gumbo with hot sausage and pecan-smoked chicken, the 9th Ward jambalaya made with hickey-smoked hog legs and smoked chicken, and a plate with the jambalaya as well as a fried crawfish pie and other items, a blackened shrimp queso, and bananas foster dessert. It takes place on Sunday, January 15 at Tamale House East from 6 to 9 p.m. The restaurants will also serve New Orleans cocktails like daiquiris and Hurricanes.
Downtown Austin sibling restaurants Hestia and Kalimotxo are hosting two Nordic events with visiting chefs from lauded Oslo, Norway restaurants. There’s Katla chef Atli Mar Yngvason and Bar Amour chef Halaigh Whelan McManus. There’s the a la carte casual event at Kalimotxo on Sunday, January 15, which will feature Basque and Norwegian dishes by the chefs. Reservations are available and there will be room for walk-ins. Then there’s the sit-down dinner at Hestia on Monday, January 16, where the visiting chefs will team up with Austin chefs Kevin Fink and Tavel Bristol-Joseph to create a tasting menu meal. Reservations are $225, with an additional cost for wine pairings.