The Austin Chronicle

Day Trips: Ellis Motel, Round Top

Take a load off at Round Top lounge

By Gerald E. McLeod, November 15, 2019, Columns

The Ellis Motel in Round Top doesn't actually rent rooms, even though it will occasionally pop up on the internet hotel search engines.

Houston restaurateur and Ellis Motel owner Lee Ellis calls it "a lounge and emporium" as he stands on the spacious front porch inviting sightseers and guests into the two-story 1800s building.

Ellis, with a Billy Gibbons-style beard, has several decades of experience on the Houston restaurant scene. He helped create such past Space City gems as State Fare Kitchen & Bar, Lee's Fried Chicken & Donuts, Pi Pizza, Petite Sweets, Lee's Creamery, and Star Fish, each with its own distinctive menu heavy with comfort food and creativity.

Opened in September on the eastern edge of Henkel Square near Royers Pie Haven, the Motel has a bar at the entrance with four rooms outfitted with overstuffed sofas, a buffalo head, motorcycles, and other antiques. The two first-floor rooms also have shelves stocked with soaps, fragrances, and even bocce ball sets for sale.

The lounging rooms are comfortable places to hang out with friends, unless you're bellying up to the L-shaped bar. The rooms are also a great place to rest your feet with an adult beverage while loved ones continue to shop the stores and galleries occupying the restored historic buildings around the square.

Ellis Motel at Henkel Square was created after Lee Ellis and his wife Melissa Savarino, a jewelry designer, decided to move to the Round Top area. The emporium opens Wednesday and Thursday at noon and the bar is open from 3 to 10pm. Friday through Sunday the emporium opens at noon and the bar at 3pm, and stays open until midnight (no set closing time on Sunday).

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