The barbecue beat, plus big news for the Omelettry

If there is a better promoter for the Austin culinary scene than Jimmy Kimmel, I'd be hard pressed to identify them. During his weeklong berth at the Long Center during South by Southwest taping Jimmy Kimmel Live, the comedian showed video clips of his personal tour of East Austin's artisan barbecue joints and encouraged his nightly guests to talk about where they had been eating while visiting here. The national attention garnered by Austin's homegrown barbecue joints and the overall Texas barbecue renaissance has inspired expansion plans among longtime Central Texas barbecue stalwarts. Kent Black, of Black's Barbecue in Lockhart, told us recently he's making progress with his foray into San Marcos, where he's opening a barbecue restaurant with a scenic beer garden later this year. Meanwhile, the fourth generation of the Black family, twins Mark and Mike Black, are using their experience in the family business to put together Terry Black's Barbecue (1003 Barton Springs Rd.) here in Austin, but are still tied up in the city permitting process. Also, Keith Schmidt of the Kreuz Market in Lockhart and his general manager, Bryan Thornton, are expanding into the Bryan-College Station area and hope to be serving Kreuz barbecue there by football season. And perhaps the biggest local barbecue news came last week with the announcement that Llano's venerable Cooper's Old Time Pit Bar-B-Que is coming to Austin. After successful forays into New Braunfels and Fort Worth, longtime Cooper's owner Terry Wootan is partnering with rancher and real estate broker Bruce Evans to bring a Cooper's outlet to a historic Downtown building at 217 Congress. They are currently working on the building, restoring the original brick and ironwork facade and revealing some vintage advertising painted on the interior walls. The Austin Cooper's will have two patios and a full bar with regular live music programming, but don't show up looking for outdoor pits wafting mesquite smoke down the Avenue. "It won't be exactly like Llano; everything we do here will be up to Austin codes," Bruce Evans assured me. He'd like to have Cooper's open by early October.

It's official! The Carpenters have leased space in the Concorde shopping center. The Omelettry will continue operation on Burnet Road until their new home is ready at 4631 Airport Ste. 131-A, sometime later this year.

Elaine Martin celebrates the 26th anniversary of Eastside Cafe by extending the hours at Elaine's Pork & Pie to offer coffee service in the mornings: 8am-8pm Tue.-Fri., 10am-8pm on weekends. Martin also reports she and her staff are planning a benefit for Evan West, the husband of their friend and former co-worker, Jamie West, who was killed last week. We'll keep you posted.

Todd Duplechan and Jessica Maher have leased the building next door to Lenoir (1807 S. First) to create a new retail store aimed at culinary professionals. Duplechan says the mercantile outlet in the former Flashback Vintage (1805 S. First) space will offer a "highly curated product line for chefs, pastry chefs, bartenders, and wine professionals." He also plans to sell new and vintage cookbooks as well as some cast iron and antique cookware. No name for the store as yet, but they are shooting for an early summer opening.

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