Green Pastures' next chapter
South Austin landmark Green Pastures has been a popular restaurant and event venue for almost 70 years, and last week's sale of the historic property to Austin developer Greg Porter and a team that includes La Corsha Hospitality Group made big news. What most people don't realize is that the Faulk family estate has changed hands a couple of times in its life span while always maintaining its status as an Austin hospitality icon. When they retired in 1969, founders Mary Faulk Koock and her husband Chester Koock sold it to their son, Ken Koock, and his business partner, Lee Buslett. In 2003, Koock and Buslett passed it on to Lee's son, Bob Buslett, who just completed the sale to Porter and La Corsha. "We looked at lots of offers, but what impressed me most was that Jeff Trigger and La Corsha already had experience with transitions at historic properties. I felt sure they could capture the heart and soul of Green Pastures so the changeover could be as seamless as possible for our core group of longtime employees and our established clientele," Bob Buslett explained. (La Corsha has also been involved with the Driskill here, the Stoneleigh Hotel and the Mansion on Turtle Creek in Dallas, and the St. Anthony in San Antonio.) In his 43 years at Green Pastures, Bob Buslett watched generations of his own and other families celebrate weddings and every kind of special occasion in the stately old mansion and on its grounds. He's confident that will continue with this deal. While he's on call to the La Corsha folks for the next couple of months, Buslett will be busy finding buyers for his three Tres Amigos Mexican restaurants and considering a less stressful retirement out of the hospitality business.
One aspect of the transition he's sorry to miss is the tenure of Joshua Thomas as the new executive chef at Green Pastures. A graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, Thomas' impressive résumé includes stints at Michelin-starred eateries Le Bernardin* and Devi (where he served as executive sous chef) in New York City, the chef de cuisine position at Stories at the Hyatt Lost Pines Resort near Bastrop; and ownership of his own mobile food truck, the Chaat Shop, here in Austin. Thomas has just recently joined the La Corsha group, saying, "The opportunity to work at this historic venue was really too good to pass up. There are lots of moving parts to the operation and staff members who have been here 25 to 30 years, so I've got a learning curve ahead of me, and folks to get to know. Like any chef, I expect to have some creative input, but I want to honor Green Pastures' traditions as well."
Look for Green Pastures to remain open and fulfill scheduled events for the next six months, when it will close for renovations to the infrastructure of the buildings. "The history of Green Pastures and the prior owners deserve to be celebrated, and we intend to maintain the integrity and character of the property for future generations to enjoy," said Porter.
*The original version of this column reported that Joshua Thomas was a sous chef at Le Bernardin. Thomas actually was employed as a cook there when he began his career after culinary school. In addition, we stated that Thomas was the food and beverage director at Hyatt Lost Pines. He was actually the chef de cuisine at Stories, the steak house at Lost Pines.