The hospitality group behind Austin restaurants Sawyer & Co., De Nada Cantina, and Swoop House is opening a new restaurant with Southern Louisiana cuisine next year. 2 Dine 4 Hospitality’s Lil’ Easy Fine Cajun Food & Bar will open at 5000 East Cesar Chavez Street by next year’s Mardi Gras, February 13, 2024, in the Govalle neighborhood.
Lil’ Easy will focus heavily on cuisine that spans the region of Southern Louisiana, according to 2 Dine 4 president Stephen Shallcross. This includes Cajun meat pies, shrimp po’ boys, hush puppies, boudin links, marinated crab claws, shrimp remoulade, gumbo, char-grilled oysters, and rum bundt cakes. The restaurant’s beverages will include a range of frozen cocktails including hurricanes, pina coladas, Painkillers, and gin and tonics. Diners can expect bread imported from New Orleans and blue plate specials similar to what exists at Sawyer & Co.
However, with the next-year opening of Lil’ Easy, Sawyer & Co. is going to change its menu. When Shallcross opened the restaurant in 2014, “Before we knew it, we sort of made this Louisiana-inspired diner and really, it’s a Texas comfort food diner that serves a lot of Louisiana [stuff],” he says. “We want to kind of focus on the Texas comfort food and move a lot of Louisiana to Lil’ Easy.” Eventually, Sawyer will lean more heavily into its southern diner fare, and move its Louisiana cuisine like po’ boys will be found at Lil’ Easy. For example, gumbo will turn into a special, and will no longer be available for purchase every day. Sawyer will also start putting fried chicken on the menu and decrease the amount of fried seafood sold.
Stafford Wood of the public relations firm Covalent Logic tells Eater Austin that Christian Helms of Helms Workshop is working on Lil’ Easy’s branding and Ayse Iyriboz on the interior design (the space is a former gas station). Helms’s past branding work includes De Nada Cantina, Austin Beerworks, Tecovas, Lone River Ranch Water, and Chameleon Coffee. Iyriboz has previously worked with DeNada Cantina, McCray & Co, Clay Imports, and Helms Workshop.
Lil’ Easy will have a pop-up crawfish boil at 3012 Gonzales Street on Saturday, May 20, for which tickets can be purchased online for $65 a person. “We may get the door open before then,” Shallcross says of their intended Mardis Gas opening date, “but that’ll be the grand opening party no matter what.”
Shallcross opened 2 Dine 4 Hospitality in 1994, followed by Swoop House in 2008, Sawyer & Co. in 2014, and De Nada in 2021.