This week's food news
There's some interesting sales news in the food business this week. The last remaining link to Jorge Arredondo's popular Casita Jorge's restaurant chain of the Seventies and Eighties has been sold. Current owner Diana Veloz and her family own a successful chain of Jorge's restaurants in West Texas, and she bought the restaurant at 2203 Hancock Drive ten years ago in a bankruptcy sale. The prime Rosedale property has attracted a number of suitors over the years, and the prices being offered finally became too good to ignore. Veloz opted to sell the property and will focus on creating a couple of new restaurant concepts with some longtime Austin employees and the next generation of her family learning the business. The group of hospitality professionals who bought the property includes Chuy's co-founder Mike Young, Will Muntz of Lucky Lounge, and John Korioth of Hangar Lounge and Six Lounge. "John grew up in this neighborhood and I've lived over here for 20 years. We're excited about creating a place that our neighbors can enjoy, a place you can walk to or ride your bike to for good Tex-Mex food and drinks. I can sum up our concept in four words: Tex-Mex neighborhood tavern," Muntz told me earlier this week. Jorge's closes on Dec. 22 and, once all the permits are in place, the 9,000-square- foot building will undergo a thorough remodel designed by restaurant architect Michael Hsu. Muntz is cautiously optimistic that La Mancha Tex-Mex Tavern will open in the spring of 2013 with chef Chris Chism on the range.
The other sale is far from an accomplished fact, but Angel Valley Organic Farm owners Jo and John Dwyer announced on their farm blog last week that they are putting the 17-acre property up for sale after the first of the year. It seems that earlier this year, when they took one of their twice-yearly vacations, the couple absolutely fell in love with the San Juan Islands off the coast of Washington State and decided to move there. The Dwyers will continue their twice-weekly farmstands (Saturdays from 9am-1pm at the blinking yellow light on CR 1431, and Wednesdays from 10am-2pm in the parking lot of the Asian American Cultural Center at 11713 Jollyville Rd.) through mid-January, weather permitting. And while their main goal is to find a buyer, any buyer, for their property, ideally the Dwyers would love to see it go to someone who wants to farm. They're willing to share all the knowledge accumulated about farming in that area over the last 14 years.
Sway (1417 S. First) soft opening dinners over the weekend generated raves all around; can't wait to get in there and try it out... Sad to hear Jax Neighborhood Cafe (2828 Rio Grande) has closed again – I hate to think of a rib man as accomplished as Art Blondin without a pit, or a venue for showcasing and feeding musicians.