The Austin Chronicle

Austin Landmarks on the Menu

By Claudia Alarcón, September 12, 2008, Food

Green Pastures

811 W. Live Oak, 444-4747
Daily, 11am-2pm and 6-10pm

Dr. E.W. Herndon, a minister and official of Firm Foundation Publishing, built the large two-story country home that houses the venerable Green Pastures restaurant in 1894-95.In 1916, lawyer Henry Faulk and his wife, Mattie Miner Faulk, moved to the South Austin home with their five children. During the war, the large Faulk home reached its maximum population of 17, including aunts, uncles, and cousins, as well as live-in guests, Mary and Chester Koock and their children. After the passing of her husband, Mattie Faulk sold the home to the Koocks in 1946.Mary Koock, who always loved to entertain, decided to remodel the downstairs area and convert it into a restaurant and catering business, while they continued to live upstairs.Chester Koock came up with the name Green Pastures for the new enterprise, and the legend was born.

The restaurant was an immediate success, attracting customers from far and wide who had heard of the wonderful traditional Southern food and unsurpassed hospitality. Later on, the menu was expanded to incorporate gourmet French cooking and other exotic dishes.Back then, all Austin restaurants were strictly segregated. But as a matter of principle, the Koocks quietly welcomed people of all races from the moment Green Pastures first opened its doors.In 1965, a fire in the upstairs living area forced the Koocks to move, but the restaurant continued to operate, and the house was eventually restored. Mary and Chester Koock retired in 1970, after 24 years in the restaurant business, leaving the management to their eldest son, Ken, and his business partner, Lee Buslett.Today, Green Pastures carries on as one of Austin's favorite restaurants, beloved for its hospitality and gourmet creations by chef Charles Bloesma, including a legendary Sunday brunch. With a setting of a 19th century Southern mansion surrounded by rolling green lawns patrolled by peacocks, it also serves as a popular location for some of Austin's most wonderful weddings.

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