Review Published in
“AMERICAN-STATESMAN STAFF “
Thursday, Nov. 17, 2011
National chains bringing new dining options to Austin area
By Gary Dinges
The first Austin location of Another Broken Egg Café is at 3016 Guadalupe St. Co-owner Brent Powell serves up a Southern Crab Stack at the breakfast, brunch and lunch restaurant, one of several chains opening in the area.
Austin is on the menu for a number of national restaurant chains looking to expand.
A flurry of openings in the coming months will give Central Texans an array of new options — everything from breakfast joints to steakhouses.
Chains are drawn to the area because of its appealing demographics, said Darryl Wittle, a member of the Austin Restaurant Association’s board and operating partner at Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse.
“We skew younger, and we’re well-educated,” Wittle said. “Younger people tend to eat out more — sometimes all their meals.”
Austin is already home to 4,500 restaurants, according to figures from the restaurant association. But even with plenty of competition, Wittle said, restaurants keep popping up with no end in sight.
“They see all the revenue out there and want a piece of it,” he said. “The demand is already there. They’ve just got to grab some of it.”
One of those new offerings, Another Broken Egg Café, made its Austin debut this month at 3016 Guadalupe St., near the University of Texas campus.
The menu at the restaurant, which is open from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. daily, includes omelettes, pancakes, burgers and salads.
“Early on, we zeroed in on the breakfast-brunch-lunch idea,” owner Brent Powell said. “We see it as an underdeveloped concept.”
Powell said he and co-owner Cody Day signed a franchise deal with Another Broken Egg because of the Destin, Fla.-based chain’s relatively small size.
“We wanted someone that’s still homegrown and family-centered,” Powell said. “That was very important to us.”
Another breakfast-centric restaurant, The Egg and I, will open its first area location at Northcross Mall, 2525 W. Anderson Lane, in January. At least two more will follow.
“When you expand, you always want to go to dynamic cities,” operations director Tom Allen said. “Austin’s one of those cities.”
The Egg and I serves a variety of egg dishes, sandwiches and salads.
Hours are 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. weekdays and 6 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. weekends.
Founded in Fort Collins, Colo., in 1987, The Egg and I has grown to 50-plus locations nationwide, including several in Houston, San Antonio and North Texas.
“We’re just booming,” Allen said.
A few steps away, the Noodles and Company at Northcross Mall recently opened its doors, along with a location at 2402 Guadalupe St.
A third location at 9761 Great Hills Trail in the Arboretum area is set to welcome diners late next month.
“When it comes to choosing new locations, we hear from folks all over the country clamoring for us to open,” said Mandy Melby, the chain’s communications manager. “We’ve heard quite a bit from Austin.”
The Noodles and Company menu features a mix of Asian-, Mediterranean- and American-inspired noodle dishes, salads and sandwiches.
Austin is the Broomfield, Colo.-based chain’s first — and so far only — Texas presence. It has nearly 300 locations nationwide serving lunch and dinner daily.
Still more restaurant chains are on the way.
LongHorn Steakhouse, a corporate sibling to Olive Garden and Red Lobster, will open its first Central Texas location Dec. 5 at 2702 Parker Road in Round Rock.
The company said two more locations — in Cedar Park and at the Southpark Meadows shopping center in South Austin — are set to open early next year.
Newcomer Dickey’s Barbecue Pit opened its fifth Central Texas restaurant this week at 661 Louis Henna Blvd. in Round Rock.
And the new owners of Bennigan’s are on the prowl, announcing this summer that they’re looking to re-enter the Austin market with as many as five locations.
“Since Austin has experienced a boom in all kinds of businesses starting, relocating or expanding, it’s not a surprise to see an influx of restaurants becoming part of this growth,” said Rebecca Martin, senior vice president for marketing and communications at the Austin Chamber of Commerce.
“Austin is a mecca for cultural and business opportunities, creating a community of active, busy professionals which provide the vital elements that service-oriented businesses need in order to succeed.”