Formerly a Rumor
The local wine biz rumor that heated up fax machines around town during December has become a reality. Former Central Market wine buyer David Huffaker, former Twin Liquors wine buyer Greg Steiner, and former 34th Street Cafe chef/owner Tim Albright have secured the necessary venture capital and expect to open The Grapevine Market at 7944 Great Northern Blvd. (former home of the New West nightclub) this spring. The new specialty superstore will feature fine wines, spirits, beers, imported gourmet foods, coffee, cigars, and fresh flowers. The three knowledgeable entrepreneurs are very excited about bringing their dream store to the burgeoning Austin market and plan to work closely with winemakers and restaurants to promote fine wines. Preliminary plans call for the Grapevine Market to open in late March or early April, a debut which would coincide nicely with the annual Texas Hill Country Wine & Food Festival.
Cautionary Tale on the Flip Side
The best advice that 34th Street Cafe owner Eddie Bernal has for other restaurateurs is: Never sign the lease on a potential new restaurant until you've read the fine print on the property deed restrictions. Bernal had plans to open a Tex-Mex taqueria and cantina in a building near the south end of Burnet Road last fall. He'd gone so far as to sign a lease and begin construction before he became aware that language in the deed prevented the sale of alcohol on the property. He exhausted every possible remedy, even making a personal appeal to the descendants of the original developers. "They decided to honor their ancestors' original wishes and refused to change the restrictions," Bernal said last week. Deed restrictions forbidding alcohol sales are probably not that rare. Amazingly enough, liquor by the drink has been legal again in Texas for a little less than 30 years.
Green Gourmet caterer Diana Welsch has expanded her operation to include the Cambridge Cafe (1801 Lavaca, 322-9222) in the Cambridge Tower. The weekday breakfast and lunch spot serves fresh baked goods, espresso, homemade soups, innovative salads, and hearty sandwiches... Alain Braux is the new pastry chef at the Barr Mansion (10463 Sprinkle Rd., 926-6907), a Victorian wedding facility that should be the perfect showcase for Braux's elegant creations. Braux has also recently completed training and received certification in macrobiotic whole foods cooking from the Natural Epicurean Academy of Culinary Arts (476-2276)... Chefs Collaborative 2000 has joined Greenpeace in a campaign to encourage consumers to demand labeling of all genetically engineered foods. Collaborative members nationwide are asking their patrons to sign a petition urging the Food & Drug Administration to institute the labeling policy. David Garrido at Jeffrey's (1202 West Lynn, 476-5587) has more information... The Texas Organic Grower's Association will present an all-day conference titled "From Farm Stands to National Brands: Marketing for Organic & Sustainable Growers/Ranchers" this Saturday, January 16, at the Red Lion Hotel (I-35 & Hwy 290). National, regional, and local experts will speak on various marketing topics, and a Trade Fair will be held. Cost with lunch is $40. To register at the Red Lion, call 323-5466 or fax 453-1945.