In Austin’s evolving dining scene, Moonshine a survivor

In downtown Austin’s topsy-turvy dining scene, Moonshine Patio Bar and Grill is a survivor.

The restaurant, at 303 Red River St., has been around for a decade, something that’s only a dream for many restaurateurs.

The building dates to the 1850s, co-owner Chuck Smith said, once serving as a trading post and later a saloon and domino parlor.

“The location of this old building spoke to us immediately,” said Smith, who co-owns the restaurant with chef Larry Perdido. “It was the inspiration for our menu, perfect for a restaurant with a Southern comfort feel. We feel like Moonshine tells a good little story.”

Items on the lunch and dinner menus include a number of “tried and true” homestyle Southern dishes – with a twist – including buffalo meatloaf, chicken-fried steak, jalapeno hanger steak, green chili macaroni and cheese and chicken and waffles.

Sunday brunch is also offered.

Before Smith and Perdido could open Moonshine, they had to spend months remodeling, stripping the building down to its studs and doing a significant amount of electrical rewiring.

They also took advantage of a pair of patios to increase seating, going from room for 49 diners to about 200.

Sales have been strong from the beginning, Smith said. This year, for instance, they’re up 13 percent from 2012.

“That’s been our biggest challenge, the growth of Austin and the growth of the business,” Smith said.

One reason for the continued success, Smith said, is the pricing. Most meals cost about $15 or less.

“Moonshine comes across as genuine, authentic and local,” he said. “We’ve created items people crave and want to come back for. That, along with the price point and the quality of the food are things people really appreciate.”

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