Restaurant closings, openings, and happenings in this week's "Food-o-File"

Gotta Lotta Restaurant News

Both Cafe Spiazzo (5416 Parkcrest, 459-9960) and Cafe Mia (3573 Far West Blvd., 342-9570) maintain their original Northwest Hills locations but have closed their neighboring West Lake outlets in recent weeks. Spiazzo pastry chef Tina Haverty has left and is now designing desserts at Siena Ristorante Toscana (6203 Capital of Texas Hwy. N., 349-7667)... Barton Skyway neighborhood fans of Russel's Bakery & Coffee Shop (3339 Hancock, 419-7877), who still regret his move to the Northwest Hills area three years ago, will be pleased to hear there will once again be a Russell's outlet in South Austin. Look for a second Russell's Bakery at 2401 S. Lamar sometime early this spring... Also on South Lamar, the friendly folks at Casa Garcia's (1901 W. William Cannon, 441-9504) recently opened their second outlet in the old Trudy's/Hank's location in the 1000 block of S. Lamar near Fiesta and City View Athletic Club. They've given the building a facelift and enhanced the comfortable patio; the place looks great... With an eye toward attracting more dinner parties, Zoot (509 Hearn, 477-6535) has added a private dining facility and christened it the Green Room. The new private room can accommodate parties of up to 22 guests and is separated from the main restaurant by green velvet curtains. Event planners at Zoot will work with chef John Maxwell to design menus for special occasions. (Ask for the marinated mussels he served at the Boggy Creek benefit; they're marvelous!)... Although it's their custom to close on Monday evenings, Chez Nous (510 Neches, 473-2413) will be open on both Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve this year... If you're hungry for French hauté cuisine in a hurry, check out the new Cuisine Rapide offering at Aquarelle (606 Rio Grande, 479-8117), a three-course, $25 prix fixe menu... Hoover Alexander, his friends, and family celebrated the grand opening of Hoover's Cooking & Catering (6901 Burnet Rd., 453-3002) in the historic Farmer's Market on Sunday, December 9. In addition to serving as a catering facility, the new spot will serve lunch and takeout food on weekdays from 11am-6pm plus breakfast and lunch on weekends from 9am-3pm. We're eager to get in there and sample the sweet potato pancakes and hoe cakes on the weekend breakfast menu... While some folks may not have noticed, Laura's Bluebonnet Kitchen (5408 Burnet Rd., 467-9552) quietly changed ownership last year. After a year of getting to know his clientele in the popular north-central breakfast and lunch joint, new owner Silviano Godinez is changing the name to the Austin Diner. The concentration on preparing hearty renditions of comforting diner food remains the same. Look for a sign bearing the new name any day now... And speaking of signs, my new favorite thing has to be the Todd Sanders neon sign above the Bouldin Creek Coffee House & Cafe (1501 S. First, 416-1601). The sign features a green frog that describes the place as a "Caffeine Dealer" and makes me giggle every time I see it... Kudos to the staff members at Gumbo's (710 Colorado, 480-8053) and the Brown Bar (201 W. Eighth, 480-8330) who gathered up stocking stuffer gifts for the 160 kids who attend the Blanton Elementary Kid's Cafe sponsored by Fired Up! Inc. This Friday, December 14, Fired Up! employees will host a Christmas party at the Kid's Cafe from 3-4:30pm where executive chef Chris Peiterson will act as Santa Claus, and the hosts will serve Johnny Carino's spaghetti and meatballs, cake, and ice cream to all the kids. Restaurants or other businesses interested in sponsoring a Kid's Cafe should contact the Capital Area Food Bank (282-2111) for more information.

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