Construction Underway for Italic
ELM Restaurant Group’s Italian Project Takes Shape
The historic Starr Building in downtown Austin at 6th and Colorado has attracted attention for decades. It held the city’s first escalator and drive-up bank, features a renowned mural by distinguished American artist Seymour Fogel (lovingly preserved in advertising agency McGarrah Jessee’s upstairs office suite) and the interior was designed by none other than mid-century marvel Florence Knoll. And now, ELM Restaurant Group, the parent company of three successful Austin restaurant concepts: 24 Diner, Easy Tiger Bake Shop & Beer Garden and Arro, is causing a stir by taking up residence in the large downstairs space originally occupied by American National Bank. Building residents and downtown denizens eagerly await the arrival of Italic, the group’s Italian concept slated to open in early 2015.
“The challenge in creating Italic,” says designer Veronica Koltuniack of VeroKolt, “is paying homage to the building’s iconic mid-century modern design roots without replicating or rehashing it. Chef Andrew Curren’s Italian menu will be simple and straightforward, and we want the atmosphere to reflect that vibe.” Interesting design elements will include a steel-and-glass wine mezzanine, homasote and Douglas fir wood paneling, custom concrete walls, repurposed industrial utility lights and unusual 1950s Italian desks and credenzas. Warm neutrals will be punctuated by subtle pops of sunny yellow and emerald green.
Entering the space will feel as if you stepped into a Tuscan kitchen to have dinner with newfound friends, where the only common language is food and an unlabeled bottle of wine topped with a soda cap. Chef Drew first fell in love with Italian culture and cuisine during a college semester abroad, and this passion led him to the Culinary Institute of America (Hyde Park) and then to chef Jonathan Waxman’s Italian restaurant Barbuto in New York City. Drew has long dreamed of creating his own interpretation of those experiences and is thrilled to execute a rustic, approachable model for lunch, happy hour and dinner here in Austin.
A top-of-the-line American-built pizza oven offering 8 feet of stone hearth will yield an array of classic and rustic pizzas, as well as a handful of entrées such as roasted half chicken and Florence-style T-bone steak. Antipasti selections ranging from cured meats, Italian cheeses, olives and house-marinated produce to house-baked focaccia will start a meal or end a hard day’s work during happy hour. Seasonally rotating pastas, featuring both fresh and dried varieties, will allow ELM to hold true to its farm-to-table ideals as well as satisfy the craving for a bowl of pasta and a glass of wine.
ELM’s Beverage Director, Master Sommelier Craig Collins, will create an easy-to-navigate, 100-percent Italian wine list. The keg wine program will feature a house red and white, and the full bar will include Italian-influenced cocktails, select local & internationally renowned craft beers and an extensive list of classic Italian apéritifs and digestifs.
The creative team behind the expansion includes the architectural and design team at Furman + Keil Architects, the branding team at McGarrah Jessee and Franklin-Alan commercial builders.