Houston Business Journal : Houston restaurant chain to open as many as three locations in Austin

After opening the original Benjy’s restaurant in Rice Village together and subsequently separating, Texas restaurateurs Benjy Levit and Martin Berson have announced plans to bring Houston’s Local Foods concept to Austin.

But while the initial announcement only detailed one Austin location, Levit told the Houston Business Journal that there could be as many as three Local Foods locations in the Austin area eventually.

The Berson and Levit are childhood friends. They went to the University of Texas at Austin together and later reunited to open Benjy’s in Houston. They worked together at Benjy’s for 10 years before Berson married an Austinite, moved there and opened Snap Kitchen.

“The last few years, (Berson) and I have been talking about getting the band back together. I think he’s learned some things and I’ve learned some things, and (we) thought it would be interesting to work together again,” Levit said.

Levit hadn’t thought of opening any Local Foods restaurants outside Houston’s 610 Loop — much less outside the city — until he had the right partner. Berson found the location, and the rest fell into place. There are still no plans to open a Local Foods in the suburbs, though. Levit’s team lives inside the Loop.

There are no plans to open locations in cities such as San Antonio or Dallas, either.

For his purveyors, it makes economic sense to have more than one location in Austin, Levit said.

Initially, Levit is going to spend a lot of time in Austin getting to know local farmers and purveyors, and he’s already begun that process. Some Houston-based purveyors, such as Slow Dough Bread Co., will still be involved in the Austin location. Levit declined to say who else he was considering.

Levit and Berson are partnering with Levit’s partner and culinary director, Dylan Murray, on the expansion.

The first Austin Local Foods, at 454 W. 2nd St. downtown, is set to open in late summer, permits permitting. After that, locations No. 2 and 3 will follow in 2021 and 2022.

Austin-based architect Michael Hsu will design the space, while Aaron Rambo of Houston will serve as interior designer. The two-story restaurant will span 4,500 square feet over two stories plus a patio.

Local Foods currently has five Houston locations in Rice Village, Upper Kirby, Tanglewood, the Heights and downtown.

Originally posted on Houston Business Journal.