Who's open, who's closed, and who's re-emerging transformed
It used to be that restaurateurs tried to time their openings for the fall when the local economy was awash in new student and football season money. Now that River City is home to year-round festivals and attractions that feed the financial generator, restaurant openings are a weekly occurrence. There are several in the news just now, along with the verification that a longtime East Austin Tex-Mex mainstay is indeed still in operation: I sat down with Nuevo Leon owner Rachel Davila recently to discuss the persistent rumors that her restaurant (1501 E. Sixth) is closed or closing. Check out our On the Range blog for the full story, but suffice it to say Nuevo Leon is still open. If and when it closes, Mrs. Davila herself will be the one to make the announcement.
After losing his lease on the charming cottage south of the UT campus in a dispute with the landlord, chef/restaurateur Gabriel Pellegrini has relocated Sagra Trattoria to 1050 E. 11th, the former home of Ms. B's, and has been open for business there for about a week... Another restaurant that lost its lease due to the vagaries of Downtown real estate is also about to reopen. Look for longtime Mediterranean favorite Marakesh to resume operation in a North Central strip mall (3301 Steck Ave.) after their soft opening earlier this week... We've also heard from readers curious about the fate of Titaya's Thai Cuisine (5501 N. Lamar), and we've been assured that the busy Thai restaurant beloved of so many Chronicle readers is merely undergoing an extensive renovation and expansion in order to better serve their fiercely loyal clientele.
Another reemergence on the local scene that is definitely not a rumor is that of John Mueller. After flirtations with Houston and Shiner, the third generation of the Mueller family meat men is back in East Austin, where John started out on his own at the turn of this century. The Feb. 20 opening of the John Mueller Meat Company was announced in an official press release rather than a breathlessly overhyped blog post: Mueller will be serving his signature smoked meats and sides in a large fenced area behind Kellee's Place (2500 E. Sixth), where guests can buy beer and eat inside, or commune with nature at the picnic tables. The newest aspect to the company harkens back to John's family heritage in the grocery and meat market business: JMMC will offer a line of handcrafted sausages and seasoned cuts of fresh meats in addition to homemade relishes and barbecue sauces. We are also cautioned to expect Mueller's trademark "crotchety brand of customer service," as well as free beer in long waiting lines, although with increased pit capacity, perhaps that won't be as big a problem as it has been in the past. Hours at JMMC will be Tuesday through Saturday, from 10:30am until the meat runs out.
Tyson Cole announced that he has chosen Jeramie Robison as chef de cuisine at Uchi, while Tim Dornon will be leaving Uchiko to join Paul Qui's new restaurant. Italian native Mattia Lambertini is the new executive chef at Gusto Italian Kitchen, and Jason Donoho is the new research and development chef for the Alamo Drafthouse corporation.