Rumors! Babies! SouthBites!
Local rumor mills were ablaze at the end of last week with speculations about new locations for the Omelettry and permits being pulled for yet another new restaurant from Shawn Cirkiel's group. It's a sure sign of how much longtime Austinites cherish their funky old landmark restaurants and how eager the young hipster crowd is to follow even the slightest whiff of the future. Here's what I can tell you for sure. Jesse and Kenny Carpenter, the father and son who own the Omelettry, have yet to sign a lease on a new location for their 36-year-old restaurant. Jesse says their priorities are affordable rent, parking, and convenient access for both their Midtown clientele and their employees, many of whom live in the vicinity of the restaurant. When we caught up with chef Cirkiel at his new chavez (111 E. Cesar Chavez) in the Radisson to ask him about the possibility of another new restaurant on the horizon, he issued his standard "I don't comment on rumors or gossip," but did allow that it's much more likely that his group is looking for a central location for offices for the company's various restaurant interests.
The SouthBites food trailer court (604 Driskill St.) was such a big hit at South by Southwest last year that it's back. This year's lineup is once again curated by Paul Qui and Deana Saukam of East Side King, and will include such popular local vendors as ESK, Micklethwait Craft Meats, Burro Cheese Kitchen, Garbo's Fresh Maine Lobster, Be More Pacific, Gourdough's, Chi'lantro, and Ms P's Electric Cock, in addition to the Waffle Bus from Houston, Holy Kombucha from Dallas, and Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams of Columbus, Ohio.
Consider this: If a restaurant server delivered an iPad-like device to your table with the final bill that allowed you to immediately share feedback about the restaurant experience, would you use it? Software developer and entrepreneur Bernard Briggs and his business partner, Food Network celebrity chef Robert Irvine, were in Austin a couple of weeks back promoting their new product to local restaurants. Humm is a patent-pending technology that allows restaurant owners to capture guest feedback with a high success rate while diners are still in the restaurant. According to Briggs, one of his local restaurant clients has seen more than a 40% drop in negative online reviews since adopting the Humm technology and promptly addressing issues raised by customers. There's more information on my interesting conversation with these forward-thinking entrepreneurs and some of the local restaurants already utilizing Humm online at austinchronicle.com/daily.
Cheesemongers Kendall and John Antonelli have welcomed a new member to their household: Elia Jo Antonelli arrived Sunday, Jan. 12, at 8 pounds, 2 ounces and 20.5 inches. We hear big brother Everett (21 months) is enchanted with the new bambina.
Media design tours and soft opening dinners are in the works at laV (1501 E. Seventh), which means their projected late February opening should be coming up any day. Nearby neighbor David Rightmer says he's now shooting to open the Silo on Seventh (1300 E. Seventh) by the end of February.