All the News That Fits

Here's my question about restaurateurs running for mayor -- if either Brad Metzler or Marc Katz were elected mayor of Austin, would they become active advocates for other independent restaurant owners and local small businesspeople? It would be quite a change to have someone in local government who was actually responsive to the concerns of restaurateurs suffering through the city's exorbitantly expensive, punishing permit process, or who could be sympathetic about devastating losses incurred when street closings run months past deadline with no penalties to contractors. It will be interesting to see how that turns out. Meanwhile, businesses along 29th Street between Guadalupe and Lamar have gotten a taste of what the restaurant owners along the Barton Springs restaurant row have been dealing with for ages -- five months and counting of torn-up streets that impede access and seriously impact the bottom line. The disruption in traffic flow took a bite out of Christmas business at the original Breed & Co. store, hurt holiday sales at the Texas French Bread outlet at 29th and Rio Grande, and is in danger of sinking the Granite Cafe (2905 San Gabriel, 472-6483). Granite chef/proprietor Sam Dickey is in the midst of a full-blown "Save the Rock" campaign, e-mailing his client base with encouragement for them to come back to the Granite. (Here's a useful tip: approaching the parking lot from southbound Lamar is still very easy.)

For someone whose job it is to cover the restaurant scene, it's particularly painful when every week brings news of a bankruptcy, a few more restaurant closings, or even the rumors of closings. I won't report rumors in hopes they aren't true, but this week brought definite news that Cafe Mia on Far West closed several weeks ago and that the venerable City Grill has closed for regular service but may remain available as an event facility. The news isn't all bad, however. Doug Foreman has changed the format at the property on Capital of Texas Highway, and now what once was 22 and then Old Alligator Grill is now Huya's (3203 Capital of TX Hwy. N., 346-4111,) a Tex-Mex cafe with a full bar. Downtown, the new Thistle Cafe (300 W. Sixth, 275-9777) is recently open for business, offering breakfast, lunch, and dinner on weekdays and dinner on Saturdays. Next week, we'll get you some details on the Zoot/Wink deal, the projected opening of John Maxwell's new eatery at the Mansion on Judge's Hill as well as the resumption of the Red Ribbon Dinner Series benefiting AIDS Services of Austin.

Valentine's Suggestions

If you're frantically looking for the best way to impress your sweet baboo on Valentine's Day, fret no more. Check out the ad on p.44 or go to for the scoop on our Eat, Drink, Watch Movies screening for Feb. 14. It includes the romantic foodie comedy Mostly Martha, dinner from Portabla, champagne and wine, as well as candy and flowers. Just make reservations, and we'll take care of the rest. If your heart's desire is a foodie who loves one-of-a-kind kitchen items, may we suggest you hurry on over to Boggy Creek Farm (926-4650, 3414 Lyons) and grab one of Larry Butler's hand-hewn and signed serving boards, made from the wood of the 100-year-old pecan tree that was smashed into the historic farmhouse by a tornado in November 2002. The boards are simply beautiful and were huge hits as Christmas gifts. I know I'll always treasure mine.

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