Actor-turned-restaurateur Joe Reynolds leaves Hollywood for Texas

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Actor-turned-restaurateur Joe Reynolds has opened M Two, a restaurant, bar and lounge in the space formerly known as Saba Blue Water Cafe.

Reynolds is a native Texan and studied acting at UT. He then attended the Yale School of Drama, and was a touring actor for nearly 15 years. He also lived in Los Angeles for many years, acting and working in restaurants. Reynolds is best known for his appearances on the television shows “Frasier” and “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.”

After years in Los Angeles and on the road, Reynolds made the quick decision to buy a restaurant in an old strip mall in Los Angeles that he then turned into the M Bar. Reynolds calls the M Bar a supper club because it serves food but is known for its shows — cabaret acts, spoken-word plays and comedy acts. He envisioned the same kind of setup for his aptly named restaurant, bar and lounge in Austin, M Two.

Reynolds moved to Austin two years ago after his father, who lives in Katy, was diagnosed with cancer. He wanted to be closer to him and has always loved Austin, and that’s when Reynolds decided to buy the Saba Blue Water Cafe space.

“I heard this place was for sale and I love the location — right across the street from Oilcan Harry’s and Rain — so I knew that it was the right crowd that I wanted to attract,” Reynolds said.

Since there was not a lounge restaurant focused on Austin’s gay community, Reynolds found the spot perfect for his vision. His original idea to create the same kind of place in Austin as the M Bar in Los Angeles couldn’t be realized because of the outdoor music next door coming from the Cedar Street Courtyard, which hosts live music seven days a week.

“I knew it wasn’t exactly right because of the noise problem downstairs,” Reynolds said. “I had to have a different concept for M Two in Austin. It can’t be as much about the shows as the original M Bar. On Sundays or Mondays we’ll come up with some fun shows early for people to see. Hopefully that’ll attract some people.”

Although Reynolds plans to have shows at his restaurant in the future, right now, he and chefs Mat Clouser and Mark Strouhal are focusing on the food. Prior to joining the M Two team, Strouhal was the executive chef at Kenichi and Clouser was a chef at Uchi, both highly regarded Asian restaurants in Austin.

“There’s a lot of Texas stuff on the menu,” Reynolds said. “They really decided to break away from what they were doing before to do seasonal stuff and local stuff as much as possible, and that’s what attracted them to this opportunity.”

Reynolds recommends the Akaushi burger, which is made from heart-healthy Akaushi beef that comes straight from a farm in Yoakum. The menu includes other local fare, such as grilled Texas peaches, as well as many unique, gamey dishes, such as the Nilgai antelope kabob. As for drinks, Reynolds suggests trying a drink called “The Fizz,” which he describes to be kind of like a mojito, but with tequila and not as sweet. His other favorite drink on the menu is “Tru Death in the Afternoon,” made of sparkling wine and Tru organic gin.

Reynolds continues to act throughout his restaurant endeavors. He still owns the M Bar in Los Angeles, and plans to continue putting his efforts into M Two to create something unique to Austin.