- By Matthew Odam American-Statesman Staff
The Mighty Union, an Austin-based hospitality concept/design/development/branding and management company that includes longtime veterans of the Ace Hotel in Portland, will bring the Carpenter Hotel to the Zilker area later this year.
The group will convert the old Carpenter’s Hall at 400 Josephine St. (just off South Lamar Boulevard behind P. Terry’s) into a boutique hotel. The Carpenter will have 93-rooms, along with a restaurant, bar, pool and cafe. While a representative for the hotel said the food and beverage operations have not been finalized, the hotel’s main restaurant will be called Carpenters Hall. Christina Skogly Knowlton, a New York-based restaurant consultant with 15-plus years management and development experience working with chefs and restaurateurs such as Tom Colicchio and Marcus Samuelsson, has partnered with the Mighty Union to develop the food and beverage program at the Carpenter and other Mighty Union projects. Skogly Knowlton is also married to Bon Appétit restaurant editor and critic Andrew Knowlton, one of the foremost authorities on restaurants in the country.
The Mighty Union, which includes Ace Hotel Portland co-founding partner and native Texan Jack Barron and the stylish, industry-leading hotel’s general manager, Donald Kenney, also operates the Suttle Lodge in Oregon’s Deschutes National Forest, as well as bars Pepe Le Moko and Spirit of 77 in Portland. Austin architect and designer Jen Turner is also a partner in the Mighty Union. While details are few on the Carpenter Hotel, both the Suttle Lodge and Ace Portland have made names for themselves by evoking a genuine sense of place in both design and function.
Built in 1948, the building was used until 2014 as Local 1266’s Union Hall. The building has since been sporadically used for events, such as Will Taylor & Strings Attached’s “Dark Side of the Moon” Halloween Ball in 2014.
The Carpenter will enter a booming Austin hotel market. Liz Lambert’s Bunkhouse is slated to deliver the sure-to-be-red-hot Magdalena boutique hotel at Music Lane and Academy Drive off South Congress Avenue; the Commodore Perry Estate in Hyde Park is being converted into a luxury boutique hotel; Hotel Zaza is under construction in the Warehouse District downtown; the Fairmont will likely open on the east end of downtown early this year; the scheduled Soho House on South Congress may have a hotel component; the Austin Proper will include residences, a hotel and restaurants helmed by Austin’s McGuire Moorman; and Arrive hotel is coming to East Austin.
Fried chicken and waffles: two great tastes that taste great together. The locally owned Wild Chix & Waffles , which specializes in the savory and sweet combos, is now open in Northcross Mall (7718 Burnet Road).
The menu at the all-day restaurant includes chicken and waffles (made with all-natural chicken); a waffle burger; bacon, egg and cheese waffle; sweet waffle with sliced bananas, Nutella and fresh whipped cream; and more. On the “healthier” side of things is a salad with chicken, avocado and goat cheese that comes with waffle cornbread croutons.
Wendy Wu, who is a co-founder and executive chef, says she was inspired to open the eclectic comfort food spot after leisurely visits to cafes in Paris.
Wild Chix & Waffles, which also serves beer and wine, is open 7 a.m. to midnight Sunday-Wednesday and 7 a.m. to 3 a.m. Thursday-Saturday.
Jep Robertson has fled the coop. The “Duck Dynasty” star and his wife, Jessica, have moved to Austin and recently opened a food truck at “Supernatural” star Jensen Ackles’ Family Business Beer Co. in Dripping Springs.
The food trailer, Jep’s Southern Roots , is true to its name, with a menu that includes homemade meat pies, boudin balls, Cajun bruschetta, shrimp etouffee, jambalaya, po-boys and more. The couple originally launched their food truck as a pot pie specialty business in their hometown of Monroe, Louisiana, as documented in episode 11 of the second season of their own A&E reality show, “Jep & Jessica: Growing the Dynasty.”
The food truck is initially open the same hours as the brewery: 3 to 10 p.m. Wednesday-Friday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday.
Downtown denizens looking for quick and healthy meals have a new options. Mad Greens , the Colorado chain that opened its first Austin location at Domain Northside last April, has opened at 419 W. Second St. The shop, which fittingly took the place of the original Leaf, serves salads, wraps, pasta and grain bowls and fruit and vegetable juices.
LeRoy & Lewis is killing two birds with one stone: barbecue and bagels. The food truck in South Austin has teamed with Rosen’s Bagel Co. for a variety of breakfast sandwiches. Sandwiches (pit ham and Gruyere with Dijon mustard; pork breakfast sausage burger with American cheese; and smoked egg salad) can be ordered on toasted plain, everything or rosemary-and-sea-salt bagels for $8. The bagels come from Rosen’s, which set up shop in the Brew & Brew last year after some pop-up events.
Diners can also order bagels with a housemade cream cheese schmear for $5. Flavors include chopped brisket, smoked jalapeno, and herb and garlic, with herbs sourced directly from Cosmic Coffee, the newly opened coffee shop, bar, event space and beer garden located on the property at 121 Pickle Road. LeRoy & Lewis is open for breakfast from 7 to 11 a.m. (or sold out) Wednesday-Sunday and from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. (or sold out) on those days for dinner.