How quickly can you make an online reservation for Uchiko?
Summers used to be so laid back around here, but this July is off to a flying start with plenty of water in area rivers and lakes, festive holiday celebrations, and eagerly anticipated restaurant openings. Tyson Cole's new venture, Uchiko (4200 N. Lamar, 916-4808, www.uchikoaustin.com), opens July 6. While the menu will reflect many of the same Japanese influences that inspire Cole at Uchi, the new sibling's Michael Hsu design is completely different. There is a much bigger kitchen, many more seats at the sushi bar, and a larger dining room. Two of chef Cole's trusted, talented Uchi lieutenants are taking the reins at the new spot – the radiant smile and deft hands of Yoshi Okai are behind the sushi bar, and Executive Chef Paul Qui is the innovator in the kitchen. Sounds like it's a good thing Uchiko takes reservations all evening... Another busy Austin chef also created a new restaurant recently. Parind Vora has taken over the management and operation of Bossa Nova Cafe, rechristening it Braise (2121 E. Sixth, 478-8700, www.braiseaustin.com) and implementing an affordable global comfort food menu. Braise serves dinner Tuesday through Saturday, providing a complimentary beer or glass of wine with food orders until its beer and wine license is approved. Vora encourages wine-loving patrons to check out the Braise menu online and then bring in their own wine for a $10 corkage fee... I was all set to share my impressions of two new East Austin barbecue joints when I got the news that one of Austin's most beloved pit masters died over the weekend. Luke Zimmermann, co-owner of Ruby's Barbecue (512 W. 29th, 477-1651, www.rubysbbq.com) passed away at Christopher House on Saturday, June 26. He was 61 years old. According to his wife, Pat Mares, Luke's recently diagnosed liver cancer progressed rapidly, taking him quickly with little pain or suffering. Like many folks, Luke followed music to Austin in 1983. Initially, he drove a cab while managing and booking musician friends from Minnesota. Luke and Pat opened Ruby's just north of UT in 1988 and were the first local barbecue restaurant to serve all-natural beef and vegetarian dishes to health-conscious Austinites. They had no children, but probably put hundreds of kids through college over the past 22 years. Luke was an avid music fan who retired from active duty at Ruby's three years ago to pursue his love of painting and collage-making; he worked in his big backyard studio until last week. Luke will be cremated, and Pat will host a small, private gathering for family and friends at his studio sometime soon. It's difficult to imagine a Chronicle event or celebration without Luke's active participation. We extend our sincere condolences to Pat Mares and the entire Ruby's family. We share your loss.