Artz hangs on while Starlite shuts down, Woodland expands, and Izzoz Tacos makes a grand entrance

Earlier this week, restaurateur Art Blondin described himself as "overwhelmed" by the outpouring of love and support he received from the Austin community when folks learned that his wife, Zenobia Sutton (the "Z" in Artz), was seriously ill and his South Austin mainstay, Artz Rib House (2330 S. Lamar, 442-8283,, was threatened with closure. While Blondin was spending the days at his wife's bedside in the intensive care unit, his longtime employees and many of the musicians who've played at the restaurant over the years pitched in to help. They were all aware that Art has donated to or hosted many benefits in support of musicians and other good causes over the years, and they wanted to return the favor. The devoted staff kept the doors open and food on the tables while Blondin's friends Danny and René Britt helped round up musicians and generated media coverage for a successful fundraiser at Artz on Jan. 26. The Britts are currently putting together another benefit with plenty of local music and a silent auction, scheduled to take place at Scholz Garten (1607 San Jacinto, 474-1958, on Sunday, Feb. 22. A relieved and thankful Art said Monday: "Z is out of intensive care, and the restaurant is staying open. Austin is the best place in the world to live." Amen, brother, and pass those country-style pork ribs... Rumors have been buzzing about impending changes at Starlite (407 Congress, 374-9012,, and we've finally received confirmation about what's up. At this point, the restaurant has ceased regular serving hours except for the popular Sunday brunches and a prix fixe dinner on Valentine's Day. For the next few months, Starlite facilities and staff will be available for private and corporate catered events (e-mail Deana Saukam at [email protected]), including a full party schedule during South by Southwest in March... While Starlite adapts to changes in the Warehouse District, another restaurant in the same company is busy with expansion. Woodland (1716 S. Congress, 441-6800, is currently renovating the next-door space formerly occupied by Gallery SoCo to add a much-needed waiting area with comfortable lounging furniture and an upscale coffee bar, complete with baristas serving coffees from Owl Tree Roasting. Partner Daniel Northcutt reports they hope to have the new area in operation by the middle of the month... The newest entry in the South Austin street-food scene is Izzoz Tacos (1207 S. First, 326-4996), a new venture from fourth generation Austin chef John Galindo, formerly of Cedar Grove Steakhouse in Wimberley and NoRTH in the Domain. Drop by his colorful trailer to enjoy tasty tacos and Mexican tortas overlooking Bouldin Creek. The blackened tilapia torta with fresh-cut fries is particularly appealing... Some of my Chronicle colleagues who are familiar with their steak burgers, Chicago-style hot dogs, and frozen custard are very pleased to note that a new outlet of the Wichita, Kan.-based Freddy's Frozen Custard chain has opened in Cedar Park (1465 E. Whitestone Blvd.). For more details, see

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Artz Rib House, Art Blondin, Zenobia Sutton, Starlite, Woodland, Gallery SoCo, Owl Tree Roasting, Izzoz Tacos, John Galindo, NoRTH, Freddy's Frozen Custard

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