Austin Restaurants Become Grocery Stores During Coronavirus Pandemic

As the novel coronavirus pandemic has forced Austin restaurants to shut down their dining rooms and led grocery stores to run out of supplies, some local dining establishments have taken it upon themselves to provide for the city.

Even before March 24, when Texas Gov. Greg Abbott temporarily authorized restaurants to sell bulk groceries (including “packaged meat, fruit, and vegetables, and dry goods”), most restaurants had already added their own markets as a way to make additional revenue while also using up unused surplus products.

One of them was the East Austin butcher shop and restaurant Salt & Time, which upped its grocery offerings since closing its dining room on March 19. “It’s part of a broader decision-making process,” explains co-owner Ben Runkle, who noticed an influx of customers coming in to stock up on goods.

“We are doing everything we can to support folks who aren’t as fortunate as we are,” Runkle says. And as a small business, he adds, “we can be much more nimble and move quickly” in response to the fluid situation.

The steps he’s taken include opening earlier and dedicating the first hour of business (9 to 10 a.m.) to the elderly and people with compromised immune systems. It’s when the store is the cleanest, thus making it safer for those high-risk shoppers. The Salt team is also upholding CDC guidelines and social distancing measures, like creating six-foot zones throughout the store and offering plenty of hand sanitizer and gloves for shoppers.

To show the store’s support of fellow restaurants and businesses, Salt’s shelves includes finishing salts and hot sauces from Lenoir, coffee from Figure 8, fresh pasta from L’Oca d’Oro, pizza dough and sauce from Bufalina, and pickles and barbecue sauces from LeRoy & Lewis, among others.

In addition, Salt is selling its usual array of raw meats, produce, dairy and cheese, wine and beer, and limited amounts of toilet paper and paper towels. It’s working on adding these items to its online store, though the meats are already available.

In the North Loop, the nose-to-tail restaurant Foreign & Domestic has added bulk staples to its new online ordering system for curbside pickups. The array features fresh pastas, breads (available by the loaf or slice), quarts of milks, bags of flour, blocks of cheddar, and eggs by the dozen.

“There’s not a supply issue,” says co-owner Sarah Heard. “It’s simply an access issue. We have access and want to share the love.” Many items were chosen based on what the team usually has in the kitchen and what’s been in low to no supply at stores. She hopes that by providing some of these necessities through the restaurant, people won’t have to brave the “mess and risk” at bigger supermarkets.

The South Austin bakery Confituras Little Kitchen has also increased its offerings to cater to the growing demand for goods. Known for its house-made jams, the shop is now selling a mix of pantry staples, along with its biscuits, cheeses, coffee, and chocolates. Even better, it added a hot new commodity: sourdough starters, plus breads from expert baker Abby Jane.

Out in Dripping Springs, the Jester King brewery has launched a country shop on its grounds, selling excess goods from the kitchen and its suppliers. This means anchovy tins, truffle oil, vegetables like cremini mushrooms and avocados, sugar, coconut milk, yeast, and more.

Jester King’s Country Store

Jester King/Facebook

Orders over $50 even come with two complimentary rolls of toilet paper. The brewery had “a fair amount of toilet paper” because of its weekly weekend beer festivals, notes co-founder Jeffrey Stuffings, because of its weekly weekend beer festivals. “It’s sad but funny,” he observes of the fact that the brewery once had limits on how many bottled beer people could buy, but now there are limits on toilet paper.

Here’s a list of other restaurants adding pop-up markets to their lineups so that people can skip the long lines and empty shelves at major grocery chains while also supporting the community by shopping local.

  • Alamo Drafthouse: The Slaughter Lane and Lakeline theaters added a bunch of market items to its pickup menu, including eggs, bread, bleach, produce, meats, and even cauliflower pizza crusts. (5701 West Slaughter Lane, South Austin; 14028 North 183, Lakeline)
  • Aviary Wine & Kitchen: The South Lamar wine restaurant introduced Bird Boxes, packages full of fresh, local produce and pantry staples. They’re available for online preorders, along with eggs, flour, sugar, and white rice. (2110 South Lamar Boulevard, Zilker)
  • Banger’s: The Rainey Street bar reopened as a general store dubbed OG Banger’s & Son’s General Store, with meats, pickles, household items such as toilet paper and dryer balls, at-home cooking kits, and more, through web or call-ahead orders for curbside pickups. (79 Rainey Street, Downtown)
  • Bennu Coffee: Both locations of the coffee shop is offering grocery items such as vegetables, fruits, eggs, meats, and hummus, for walk-in orders.
  • Blue Corn Harvest Bar & Grill: The restaurant with locations in Cedar Park and Georgetown offers daily bulk packages of supplies like meat, produce, desserts, and yes, even toilet paper. (700 East Whitestone Boulevard, Cedar Park; 212 West Seventh Street, Georgetown)
  • Brentwood Social House: Along with its pastries and baked goods, the cafe is selling grocery items like eggs, cream cheese, and hummus for curbside pickups through call-ahead or curbside pickup ordering. (1601 West Koenig Lane, Brentwood)
  • The Brewtorium: The pantry section of the brewpub includes flour, yeast, eggs, and butter. (6015 Dillard Circle, North Austin)
  • Citizen Eatery: You can order this vegan restaurant’s Citizen Family Pack, which comes with staples such as lentils, sweet potatoes, rice, and even citrus, for pickup or delivery through call-ahead or online ordering. (5011 Burnet Road, Brentwood)
  • Clever Baking Co.: The wholesale bakery is providing take-and-freeze items for customers at the South Austin bar Radio Coffee and the East Austin cafe Greater Goods Coffee. Expect house-made country bread, strawberry banana bread, and gluten-free lemon poppyseed loaves. Radio is also selling milk, eggs, vegetables, and fruit from its drive-through.
  • Colleen’s Kitchen: The Southern restaurant’s selling toilet paper, milk and buttermilk, butter, eggs, and loaves of whole-grain bread. (1911 Aldrich Street, Mueller)
  • Contigo: The relaunched drive-thru has a whole bunch of grocery items from produce to eggs to dry goods to condiments available for online ordering. (2027 Anchor Lane, MLK)
  • Crema Bakery & Cafe: The bakery added a whole grocery section to its web store, including coffee beans, dairy, meat, produce, breads, and more. (9001 Brodie Lane, South Austin)
  • Crepe Crazy: The Dripping Springs and South Lamar locations of the creperie added grocery components for takeout, curbside pickups, and deliveries, including vegetables, fruits, meats, dairy, breads, condiments, and other dry goods.
  • Cruzteca Mexican Kitchen: The Mexican restaurant is now operating as a bodega, selling an assortment of fruits, vegetables, and bacon, plus tacos, enchiladas, tortas, and more via its website. (5207 Brodie Lane, Sunset Valley)
  • Cuvée Coffee Bar: The East Sixth Street cafe has turned into a mini-market featuring coffee and tea (of course), cans of its nitro cold brew, beer growlers, breads from Easy Tiger, milk, and more. Call ahead to place an order for curbside pickup. (2000 East Sixth Street, Holly)
  • Dai Due: The East Austin butcher shop is selling locally grown produce bundles, meats, Texas wine and beer, dried pinto beans, and even biscuit kits through its newly installed walk-up window. The selection changes daily through its web store. (2406 Manor Road, Cherrywood)
  • Daily Juice: The juice bar is offering grocery bag delivery subscriptions, which come with lots of fruits and vegetables twice a week.
  • District Kitchen + Cocktails: Both locations of the New American restaurant are now offering curbside pickup groceries through its online store, including eggs by the dozen, gallons of whole milk, unsalted butter, and bulk salad and vegetable packs.
  • Dream Bakery: The Wells Branch bakery is selling pastry essentials and household cleaning supplies for curbside pickups ordered through its web store.
  • Easy Tiger: The Linc drive-thru is selling yeast, flour, milks, and cheese for pickups and deliveries. (6406 North Interstate 35 Frontage Road, Linc)
  • Eden East: The farm-to-table restaurant is, appropriately, offering CSA produce bags with items like pickled vegetables, jams and bone broth twice a week through online ordering. (755 Springdale Road, East Austin)
  • Emmer & Rye: The Rainey Street restaurant now has bread, pasta, condiments, and more available for delivery or pickup with online ordering. (51 Rainey Street, Rainey)
  • Flightpath Coffee: The coffee shop opened up a pop-up market called Angie’s Bodega, with produce, dry goods, household supplies and cleaners, and more. It’s also selling items at-cost and/or discounted to people who have lost their jobs. It’s open for pickups and deliveries.
  • Foreign & Domestic: The North Loop gem has an online ordering system for curbside pickup of fresh pastas, breads (available by the loaf or slice), yeast, quarts of milks, bags of flour, blocks of cheddar, and eggs by-the-dozen. (306 East 53rd Street, North Loop)
  • Halycon: Both locations of the coffee shop and bar are selling grocery items for in-person pickups.
  • The Hive: The coworking space with a coffee shop component is now a full-on market and cafe, offering coffee, food, produce, eggs, bread, dairy, meat, tofu, and more. (10542 Menchaca Road, South Austin)
  • Jester King: The Dripping Springs brewery has a country shop of anchovy tins, truffle oil, vegetables like cremini mushrooms and avocados, sugar, coconut milk, yeast, and more.
  • Joe’s Bakery: The East Austin Mexican restaurant is now operating as a drive-through, selling food from its menu plus toilet paper, paper towels, and bleach at cost. (2305 East Seventh Street, East Austin)
  • Juniper: The Italian restaurant added a market component to its online store for pickups. This includes pasta, sauces, produce, cheese, and more. (2400 East Cesar Chavez Street, East Austin)
  • Kome: The sushi spot has Asian pantry staples like ponzu, wasabi, panko, potato starch, and more available for online ordering. (5301 Airport Boulevard, North Loop)
  • Lenoir: The South First restaurant is selling a whole bunch of pantry and grocery items, from condiments to breads to eggs.
  • The Meteor: The South Austin cafe is selling breads (including the hokkaido), spreads, and dairy.
  • Rosewood: The South Texas restaurant is allowing customers to purchase produce and eggs from the East Austin urban farm Hausbar as part of its to-go meals. (1209 Rosewood Avenue, Central East Austin)
  • Russian House: The downtown Russian restaurant is selling eastern European specialties like smoked meats, homemade cheese, dumplings, pasta, rice, and even toilet paper. (307 East 5th Street, Downtown)
  • Sala & Betty: The casual New American restaurant drive-thru is selling pickup baskets full of produce, meats, milk, eggs, and grains for $100. (5201 Airport Boulevard, North Loop)
  • Salt & Time: The east Austin butcher shop and restaurant has raw meat, produce, dairy and cheese, wine and beer, and limited amounts of toilet paper and paper towels, which are also available through its online store. (1912 East 7th Street, East Seventh)
  • Sawyer & Co.: This East Side New Orleans-ish diner has opened its own web store, selling its food alongside basics like tweezers, nail files, diapers, cold medicine, candies, and more. (4827 East Cesar Chavez Street, Govalle)
  • Scholz Garten: The historic beer garden and restaurant is also offering groceries such as deli meats, dairy, bread, dry goods, vegetables, and fruits via curbside pickups. (1607 San Jacinto Boulevard, Downtown)
  • Skull & Cakebones: The vegan bakery is offering breads, cream cheese, flour, nut milks, and more through shipping. (3991 East Highway 290, Dripping Springs)
  • Sour Duck Market: The East Austin restaurant has transformed into a farmers market with an ever-changing selection of fresh local produce and dairy. Delivery and curbside pickup are available. (1814 East Martin Luther King Junior Boulevard, near Central East Austin)
  • Spread & Co: The West Austin cafe is offering must-haves, like bulk hummus, pimento cheese, cheese boards, and fresh bread, plus “quarantine survival bags” that include bread, cheese, cookie dough, coffee, and wine. It’s all available through online ordering for delivery or curbside pickups. (1601 West 38th Street, Rosedale)
  • The Steeping Room: The tea cafe added an array of proteins (lox, tofu, bacon), cheese, nuts, frozen items, and more for curbside pickup orders placed online. (4400 North Lamar Boulevard, Rosedale)
  • Texas French Bread: The bakery and restaurant is selling breads and baked goods alongside eggs, coffee, flour, milk, chicken, and cheese. (2900 Rio Grande Street, West Campus)
  • Thai Fresh: Along with its food and drink menu, the South Austin Thai restaurant is offering groceries including gluten-free pasta, tempeh, vegan burger patties, meat, and dairy products, for curbside pickups through its online store. (909 West Mary Street, Bouldin Creek)
  • Vaquero Taquero: The taco restaurant partnered with next-door convenience store Speedway Market to offer non-alcoholic drinks, snacks, and toilet paper for pickups and deliveries. (104 East 31st Street, North Campus)
  • Vista Brewing: The brewery is selling produce baskets, eggs, ground wagyu beef, and straight-up potato plants, among other offerings for walk-up and curbside orders. (13551 Ranch to Market Road 150, Driftwood)
  • Waterloo Icehouse: All four locations are selling produce and pantry staples via curbside pickup; expect items like vegetables, burger patties, cheese, milk, bread, and chicken.
  • Wholly Cow Burgers: The burger joint added its own market shop, featuring ground beef, fruits, vegetables, and other grocery and household staples, available for pickups via online ordering. (3010 South Lamar Boulevard, Barton Hills)

Know of other restaurants adding markets? Let Eater know via email at [email protected] or through the tipline.

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