This is the kind of story that I hate having to report on this beat, but …
Keeping a restaurant running requires more than the obvious. Sometimes great execution in the kitchen, positive critical reviews and strong word-of-mouth isn’t enough.
Rising expenditures for kitchen repairs forced the independently owned Spin Modern Thai to close its doors last weekend.
Despite a strong first year in business, the owners, who worked the front of house in the evenings after finishing their day jobs, could not keep the restaurant near Lakeline Mall open any longer.
Just last week I enjoyed a refreshing dish of larb sake, a delicately fried soft shell crab and the stinging heat of the beef tiger cry. It was my third meal at the restaurant helmed by co-executive chefs Ek Timrerk, an Uchi veteran, and Thai Changthong, who previously worked at Uchiko. Each meal had exceeded the previous one, and service had improved with each visit, as well.
Spin ranked #17 on my list of Top 50 restaurants in 2012 and likely would have moved up in this year’s rankings, which will be released in the fall.
The chefs and owners will regroup in coming weeks to decide on next steps, including the possibility of opening a more centralized location. Timrerk will likely assist his sister Titaya in the re-opening of her remodeled and expanded restaurant, Titaya’s on North Lamar Boulevard, in the next couple of months.
“We are saddened to announce the closing of a restaurant which we have all invested so much of ourselves in, but the reality is, we have very limited resources to continue making costly and unexpected repairs in order to keep our doors open,” co-owner and operating partner Alphonso Dryer said. “We deeply appreciate all of the patrons and friends that have visited us and brought so much to our lives over the past year and a half. We hope to see you all again one day soon.”
JuiceLand has opened its fifth location in Austin at 6705 U.S. 290 near the intersection of William Canon Drive. It is the first JuiceLand location with a drive-through. The store will offer the same menu of organic juices, restorative shots and fruit and vegetable smoothies that it offers at its other locations. The south JuiceLand is open from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday-Saturday and from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday. (JuiceLandAustin.com)
Canadian food truck Potato-A is selling Canadian fare, specializing in poutine, at 1901 S. Lamar Blvd. next to the Corner Bar. The trailer is open from 6 p.m. to midnight Tuesday through Thursday and from 6 p.m. to 2 a.m. Friday and Saturday, with hours subject to weather and availability. (Facebook.com/potato.a.foodtrailer)
Vietnamese food trailer Saigon Le Vendeur has opened near the train tracks at 2404 E. Seventh St. and is selling banh mi sandwiches, vermicelli bowls, spring rolls and egg rolls. Saigon Le Vendeur is open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday.
The popular East Side King trailer at Shangri-La has shuttered. Chefs Paul Qui and Motoyasu Utsunomiya’s Asian-fusion project may end up at a new home, according to their Facebook page. In the meantime, build-out has begun at the brick-and-mortar location of East Side King at 2310 S. Lamar Blvd. East Side King still operates trailers at the Liberty and Grackle bars in East Austin and out of the Hole in the Wall on The Drag.
Daniel Curtis suffered an accident on Memorial Day 2011 that left him a quadriplegic. The former Carillon employee has since gone on to spearhead Pay It Forward, an event that raises money for the Lone Star Paralysis Foundation. The night of music (Rotel and the Hot Tomatoes), cocktails (Tipsy Texan) and food (the Carillon, Bin 555, Congress, Foreign & Domestic, Franklin Barbecue, Jack Allen’s Kitchen, La Condesa, Olive & June, Parkside, Ramen Tatsu-Ya, Salty Sow, Sway, Kenichi, Swift’s Attic, Noble Sandwiches, Tre Trattoria, Uchi, and Uchiko) takes place Aug. 8 at the AT&T Executive Education and Conference Center (1900 University Ave.) Tickets for the event are $75 for general admission and $125 for VIP tickets, which includes entrance an hour early. (PayItForwardWithDaniel.com)
After pleasing fans with their barbecue events, Saint Arnold Brewery is expanding its reach and hosting its first vegetarian beer dinner at the Swoop House (3012 Gonzales St.) on Aug. 7. Each of the five courses in the meal, including a hearts of palm and melon ceviche salad and adobo eggplant enchiladas, will be paired with a different Saint Arnold Beer, such as Fancy Lawnmower and Amber Ale. Hors d’oeuvres will be served at 7 p.m., and the first course will be served at 7:45 p.m. The event costs $65 a person and includes tax and gratuity. (SwoopEvents.com)
The music fest with attitude will add an extra bit of edge this year. Fun Fun Fun Fest has brought on legendary (and legendarily ornery) barbecue cook John Mueller of John Mueller Meat Co. to serve as the festival’s food curator. What’s this mean for those looking to serve as food vendors at the fest? Likely the same blend of affection and hostility Mueller shows his customers.
“Good luck with your application. I’ll try not to laugh at it,” Mueller said. (Watch video of Mueller from Thursday’s Fun Fun Fun Fest press conference announcing his new gig at Austin360.com.)
Those wanting to apply can send an email to Sawyer Stolz at vendors@FunFunFunFest.com or call 432-661-1782. Fun Fun Fun Fest will be Nov. 8-10 at Auditorium Shores, with musical acts such as MGMT, Slayer and Snoop Dogg.
Franklin Barbecue (900 E 11th St.) has taken initial steps to expand their operation on East 11th Street. The titans of smoked meat have applied for a change in zoning that would allow them to build a structure that could serve as food commissary, smokehouse and office space. The size of the dining room would not increase but co-owner Stacy Franklin says the new space would allow for greater food production and a to-go window.
What does that mean for barbecue lovers? Likely shorter lines, as people would have the choice of whether to stand in the dine-in or to-go line. Franklin needs three amendments (a zoning change, an amendment to the neighborhood conservation combining district and an amendment to the Urban Renewal Plan) before going forward. All those steps would require a signing-off by the neighborhood association. Linda Johnston, an architect working with Stacy and Aaron Franklin, says that it is hard to predict a timeline on the changes, but that the best-case scenario could mean that Franklin might be able to start construction in November at the earliest. (FranklinBarbecue.com)