A new Austin hospitality company is working on opening three restaurants in the city this year. Lobos Hospitality is behind forthcoming South Austin diner Toasty Badger, downtown sandwich shop Manny’s, and downtown cocktail bar Powder Room.
The first to open, Toasty Badger, will be found at 2206 South Congress Avenue in the Bouldin Creek neighborhood starting on Friday, January 26. Toasty Badger is a family-friendly, retro-by-the-way-of-the-1970s diner with East Coast vibes. It’ll serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner with a daytime menu that includes pancakes, French toast, omelets, ham and eggs, and soups. In the evenings, expect dishes like meatloaf and Salisbury steaks. Drinks-wise, there will be coffee, local beers, and cocktails.
The physical space is taking over the distinct-looking building that had been a location of Southside Flying Pizza, and well before that, a Dairy Queen. The owner of the pizza company, Art Goldstein, is actually Lobos’s landlord for this space.
Toasty Badger will initially open for breakfast and lunch services from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily. Dinner will be added sometime in the spring.
The next on Lobos’s opening schedule is downtown cafe Manny’s, found at 303 West Fifth Street in the new Hanover Republic Square apartment building. It’s expected to open in mid-February. The casual restaurant will serve sandwiches, including gluten-free options, alongside bowls, salads, smoothies, and snacks. Manny’s takes its design cues from the building’s art deco sensibilities — there will be an indoor space as well as a patio with garden details.
And finally, Lobos is opening a hidden cocktail bar, Powder Room, within the Manny’s space at 303 West Fifth Street in downtown Austin, also opening in mid-February. The intimate space will offer cocktails — as well as infused vodkas and infused tequilas — and snacks. Drew Record of San Francisco bar Trick Dog and Chezchez developed the drinks. The intimate space will feel like a living room with 1980s leanings; there will be live music and bartenders to offer table-side cocktails.
Behind Lobos are co-founders chief executive officer Grace Chow, chief operating officer Eric Kemp, and chief creative officer Jason Ellefson. The three have years of hospitality experience between them. Chow and Kemp worked together at the SLS Vegas where she was the executive director of food and beverage and he oversaw the Life nightclub (the hotel is now called Sahara Las Vegas). Kemp and Ellefson worked together at Las Vegas bar Beer Park as manager-into-director of openings and manager-into-managing partner, respectively. And Ellefson and Chow were employed at restaurant and nightlife group SBE Entertainment; she worked in various roles from operations/openings manager to senior director of restaurant openings, and he managed various nightclubs.
“We gave up all of these high-level careers and bet really big on Austin,” Ellefson, who is originally from Seattle, tells Eater (Chow is from Tacoma, Washington, and Kemp is from Florida). “We want to create really unique brands conceptualized for Austin. We don’t want to import anything. So we looked at the market [and asked], ‘What would work here?’”
The Lobos team (which has further projects in mind for Austin) renovated and redesigned the Toasty Badger space. For the dishes, they used recipes from themselves and their families. For Manny’s and Powder Room, they worked with architecture firm Rios and interior designer Peter Bowden of Petermaxco. The company is hiring for all three businesses, too.