There is no denying that Austin offers up a veritable smorgasbord of restaurant options for hungry culinary enthusiasts. In fact, according to A Taste of Koko, there set to be over 100 new restaurant openings in 2015 alone, representing everything from Italian to street tacos, traditional Chinese to scrumptious desserts. At the same time, though, Austin is a competitive scene, and eateries can close just as quickly as these establishments opened up. To keep track of the entire Austin scene’s comings and goings, here are just a few of the more recent restaurant openings and closings:
Wu Chow opens up shop
The concept behind Wu Chow was originally announced in December 2013, as CultureMap Austin reported. What followed in the next two years, though, were a series of increasingly cumbersome delays, ranging from issues with the restaurant space to redesigns of the menu. However, Wu Chow finally had its soft opening on Monday, Nov. 2, and the years of added work appeared to have been worth it. Chefs Ji Peng Chen and Ling Qi Wu served up traditional Sichuan and Shanghainese dishes, including braised eggplant and salt-and-pepper squid. Meanwhile, mixologist Jeff Hammett served up a number of cocktails, including sorghum baijiu – rose-infused liquor – and chrysanthemum tea-infused moonshine. Aesthetically speaking, the restaurant featured a mix of metallic colors and traditional sushi house decor, and the evening’s playlist featured hip-hop from the Wu-Tang Clan and A Tribe Called Quest. Wu Chow has its grand opening on Nov. 5.
St. Philip shutters suddenly
The wildly popular St. Philip pizzeria has abruptly shut down as of Sunday, Nov. 1. According to CultureMap Austin, the news comes just a year after the restaurant first opened, offering patrons a combination of gourmet pizza and a separate bakery section that featured cakes, cookies and other baked goods. However, in September 2015, St. Philip suddenly revamped its concept, doing away with the bakery section entirely. The restaurant has also had some issues in terms of employee retention. Page Presley became head chef in February 2015, only to depart a few months later following the resignation of St. Philip’s head of operations, Philip Speer. St. Philip is owned and operated by the Uchi Restaurant Group, the same people behind Uchi and Uchiko, and the former was recently named the best sushi restaurant in the U.S. In an accompanying statement, URG President John Baydale said they’d learned lessons from St. Philip and thought it better to focus on their bread and butter, fine sushi.
H.E.B. jumps into fine dining
Across Austin and much of Texas, H.E.B. is the reigning king of low-cost, affordable grocery stores. Now, though, the chain has decided to expand its offerings by opening a full service restaurant in its latest store, as the Austin Business Journal reported. Officially opened on Oct. 28, the new store is located in the Oaks at Lakeway, a large shopping center located on RR 620. The restaurant, aptly titled Table 620, has both a patio and a separate entrance from the remainder of the grocery store, according to Community Impact. The restaurant serves a number of American-inspired dishes and also offers a wide selection of local craft beers. H.E.B. Public Affairs Manager Leticia Mendoza said Table 620 is both quaint and elegant, perfect for a romantic date night. This is the second “groceraunt” that H.E.B. has opened in Texas. According to the Express News, the first opened in San Antonio in June 2014 and features a one-of-a-kind concept. No word yet on plans for any subsequent restaurant openings.