If Texans don’t know Georgia Chef Mashama Bailey, they’ll be right away. The award-winning restaurateur confirmed that she is bringing two of her renowned Savannah, Georgia restaurants to Austin, Texas this year.
Bailey has become an integral part of the Savannah culinary scene after opening her popular restaurant, The Gray. Since opening in 2014, she and her business partner John O. Morisano have added two spin-off experiences to the project – The Diner Bar at The Gray and The Gray Market – which are now being replicated in ATX. This summer, new locations for the diner bar and market will open at the nearly completed Thompson Austin Hotel.
In 2019, Bailey was named the best cook in the Southeast by the James Beard Foundation. Before moving to Georgia, she was a self-described “New York Girl”, born in the Bronx, raised in Queens, and professionally educated in Manhattan. She cooked in NYC for a dozen years. Now, having captured the Northeast and Southeast, it will expand its reach to include South Central United States.
The news of The Gray’s expansion into Texas was first revealed in January when Bailey discussed her and Morisano’s plans on Cherry Bomb’s podcast. She describes the Austin Diner Bar as a “bigger version” of the Savannah original with cocktails and snacks. Austin’s Gray Market concept is referred to as a “bodega-meets-lunch counter”.
According to Eater, Bailey and Morisano were approached several times to bring The Gray into a new community. They loved the idea of Austin, especially because of its diversity, energy and youthfulness.
“In a few months we’ll do the same thing, we’ll go to another town and start over,” Bailey said on the podcast. “Austin looks great … I’m excited to see what we can do there.”
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