New Restaurant in the Lockhart Square Boasts a Pasta Case

Pick up dinner from the owners of Foreign & Domestic

Daytrippers have been making declarations designating Lockhart as more than just a weekend getaway for some now, with Austin transplants adding new businesses to the small town’s rich history.

Adding to the proof, Sarah Heard and husband/partner Nathan Lemley, co-owners of North Loop’s beloved Foreign & Domestic, have joined the ranks of Lockhart’s restaurant roster with their newest venture, Commerce Café (118 S. Commerce, Lockhart).

Commerce Café is across from the Caldwell County courthouse (Courtesy of Sarah Heard)

Located near the historic Caldwell County courthouse in the town square, the café – which opened in late May amidst the state’s Covid-19 protocols – features counter service with items like sandwiches, salads, pastas, and pie, in addition to coffee. Currently, they’re open Monday through Saturday, 5-9pm and have plans to expand the menu as well as the operational hours. We caught up with the acclaimed executive chef to get the scoop.

Austin Chronicle: What's the background on this adventure – the idea, the mission, your role, etc.

Sarah Heard: This whole project happened pretty fast to be honest. The space came available, we were lucky enough to jump in quickly and secure it. We were not looking for a second restaurant, but couldn’t pass up the opportunity. We want to provide Lockhart with a comfortable space, good cocktails, and great food! We want to fit into the town, while bringing a little something different. Lockhart has undergone a lot of changes and growth since I graduated here. We are currently splitting time between the two restaurants to ensure that quality and safety standards are up to par at all times, [and] we will eventually pull back a little and turn some things over to Tony Ramirez, our kitchen manager whom I’ve worked with off and on since high school.

Fresh pasta case (Courtesy of Sarah Heard)

AC: What's the main cuisine focus?

SH: Comfort food done proper.

AC: Why Lockhart?

SH: I grew up here and Nathan and I live just up the road in Luling now. I never imagined I’d be opening a restaurant here, but the town is hungry now and so supportive!

AC: What kinds of dishes can diners expect?

SH: Expect things like chicken fried steak and potato salad, burgers, chicken and dumplings, soups and sandwiches, lots of pie, and of course all day pancakes once we expand our hours!

AC: Please tell me about that pasta case!

SH: Well, everyone has been so jazzed about the house made spaghetti that it just made sense to use the existing pastry case to showcase it! Almost every restaurant here has a pastry case, so we thought we’d do a pasta case. We will start adding some more things like house jams, cookies, pies, etc soon.

AC: Anything else you'd like readers to know?

SH:We are currently BYOB, but working on our mixed beverage permit with TABC. Our hours are currently 5-9, but they will expand in the next few weeks to include lunch, followed by breakfast, happy hour, and brunch!

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