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St. Elmo Public Market Is No More — Instead, It’s Turning Into a Duckpin Bowling Alley/Arcade/Bar

The food hall space was sold and Ohio-based chains Pins Mechanical and 16-Bit are opening in 2024

A bowling alley.
A duckpin bowling alley at Pins Mechanical’s Ohio location.
Pins Mechanical
Nadia Chaudhury is the editor of Eater Austin covering food and pop culture, as well as a photographer, writer, and frequent panel moderator and podcast guest.

The long-awaited St. Elmo Public Market — which was supposed to have a food hall with a bunch of all-star Austin restaurants — is no longer happening. Instead, the 4329 South Congress Avenue space in East Congress has been sold to a company that will turn it into a bowling alley, arcade, and bar as reported by Austin Business Journal.

Opening in the South Congress space will be locations of Ohio-based company Rise Brands’s activity and gaming venue Pins Mechanical and bar and arcade 16-Bit. The Austin space will have 24 duckpin bowling lanes, 30+ pinball machines, and 40+ arcade games like Frogger and NBA Jam. There will be a total of four bars, a courtyard, and two mezzanines for private events. Cocktails typically include classics and house drinks such as the s’mores old fashioned and the Chai Me a River with cold brew and rumchata, as well as wines and beers.

A rep for the company tells Eater that “Austin aligns perfectly with the creative nature of the Pins brand,” over email. Construction will start this year and the goal is to open in 2024.

These two entertainment businesses will be leasing the space from new owners real estate investment and development company SomeraRoad. The company bought the property in early November, as the publication reported, from one of St. Elmo Public Market’s original ownership company real estate developer Maker Bros.

Makers Bros.’s Andy Carnahan tells Eater that the SomeraRoad’s plans “sounds like a great concept. Happy to have them in the neighborhood.”

Eater has reached out to SomeraRoad for more information.

The St. Elmo Public Market was supposed to become a space with a bunch of lauded Austin restaurants, but most of those had dropped out as the construction and plans dragged on. Those included a new diner by Olamaie, a cafe by Greater Goods Coffee Co., Hawai‘i-based farmers market stand Fire Dance Pizza with a new pizzeria, Hill Country brewery Family Business Beer Co., and a new desserts shop by Lick Honest Ice Creams.

The sole remaining restaurant that was still attached to the food hall was New Texan restaurant Salt & Time, which was supposed to open a restaurant, butcher shop, and market. When the St. Elmo space was put up for sale in July 2022, Salt & Time co-owner Ben Runkle told Community Impact that he hoped that the eventual new owner would keep the restaurant on deck.

When Eater reached out to Runkle to ask about this recent St. Elmo sale and new plans, he writes to Eater that the restaurant has “two legally binding leases with the (previous?) owner of St Elmo,” with the other one as the intended first-location of their standalone spot Butcher’s Burger. “The landlord has not informed us of this change or how they intend to make us whole, but we expect them to.”

St. Elmo Public Market was announced back in 2015 with a goal of opening in 2018. And then the opening date kept getting delayed. When Eater Austin wrote an update about all the restaurants dropping out of the project in 2022, Makers Bros.’s Andy Carnahan told Eater that the plans are “too fluid to talk about.”

What’s happening to St. Elmo Public Market is sort-of similar to the switcheroo that is happening with East Austin space the Native. The multi-experiential East Fourth Street space — which included omakase Toshokan, Japanese comfort foods restaurant Tiny Diner, a bar, food trucks, and other retail businesses — closed in June 2023 because it’s being turned into a putt-putt golf course, Holey Moley, opening sometime this fall. Toshokan temporarily relocated to a different East Fourth address with the goal of reopening in Holey Moley space eventually.

16-Bit Bar + Arcade [Austin]

4329 South Congress Avenue, Austin, Texas 78745 Visit Website

St. Elmo Public Market

4329 South Congress Avenue, Austin, Texas 78745 Visit Website

Pins Mechanical [Austin]

4329 South Congress Avenue, Austin, Texas 78745 Visit Website