Nutty Brown Cafe owner Mike Farr is excited about the impending relocation of his eatery and music amphitheatre to the former McNeil Park property he's just purchased from the city of Round Rock, but the move will take a while. Thanks to a generous deal with new property owner H-E-B, Nutty Brown will remain in the original location until the new venue is completely developed, but the coolest neon cowboy in Central Texas will be twirling a rope alongside I-35 just south of IKEA by the end of 2016. "I love Hays County, I've raised my family out here and I'll miss Dripping Springs, but the McNeil property has everything we could ask for in a new location – larger capacity so we could book bigger acts, better traffic flow, more parking, beautiful trees, and no nearby residential areas to be bothered by noise," Farr explained. However, Farr will still have a business interest along 290 West in the former Señor Buddy's location. Look for Farr to join partners Matt Luckie and Jeff Waughtal to open Graceland Grocery (8600 Hwy. 290 W.) sometime in October. It will be an interesting mash-up of a convenience store and bar with food service from Stubb's Barbecue, plus a coffee shop featuring pastries and Cuvée Coffee. Sounds like an interesting place to stop at the gateway to the Hill Country.
Kristen Heaney's Yard Bar (6700 Burnet Rd.) finally became a reality last week, and Chronicle contributor Claudia Alarcón pronounced opening day "awesome. I hope she opens one in South Austin so we could go every weekend." Amenities in this well-thought-out dog park include comfortable eight-foot picnic tables for pet parents and play areas for both large and small dogs. There are clearly defined rules and Bark Rangers on duty to make sure that everyone plays safely. Guests must be 21 and over, and admission is by the purchase of day passes or memberships. Thanks to a couple of crowdfunding campaigns, Yard Bar opened with about 500 members already signed up. Heaney tells us she's also seeing new people trying things out with day passes. "My idea all along was being able to have a beer at the dog park, and I wanted people to feel like they're relaxing in someone's backyard. I've already seen the setup encouraging community, which is just what I was going for." Refreshments for humans are a big part of the deal with a wine and beer program curated by Rae Wilson and craft cocktails from head bartender Paul Chapin, formerly of Frank. Longtime Jo's Coffee manager Tina Rose is the general manager here and the approachable, picnic-style menu is produced fresh in-house under the direction of kitchen manager John Workman, most recently of Second Bar + Kitchen. Alarcón was impressed with the killer pimento cheese, the deviled eggs, and the burger, not to mention a Cosmic Cowdog cocktail made with kombucha. And she could just get her wish. Heaney says Yard Bar No. 2 would definitely be in South Austin. All she needs is the right piece of property.