El Patio reopening late September


El Patio co-owner Sled Allen works to reopen the Tex-Mex restaurant on Guadalupe Street after closing in July. Allen is a cousin of the original owners of the restaurant.

Photo Credit: Kirsten Hahn | Daily Texan Staff

Local restaurant El Patio will reopen its doors in late September, two months after the owners announced its closure in late July.

Kristyn Ciani, the granddaughter of El Patio’s original owners, said she, her cousins and restaurant industry contacts joined together to reopen the Guadalupe Street restaurant by the end of this month.

“We’re going to be the same restaurant,” Ciani said. “Don’t come in and expect to see a bunch of changes. We’re trying to preserve the history and the tradition of it.”

Ciani said memories of working in the restaurant as a child came to the front of her mind when she heard the restaurant was closing. She said hearing the news from her extended family, who had owned and operated El Patio for 65 years, was “devastating.”

“It was something that (my father) poured his heart and soul into for so long that I understood him wanting to take a step back and shift gears,” Ciani said. “I thought, ‘You know, maybe it is time.’”

Ciani said seeing the lines of people visiting El Patio in the days before it closed reaffirmed the group’s decision to reopen the restaurant.

“Here are all these men and women of all ages coming in,” Ciani said. “I thought, ‘Wow, this place is really something special.’ It was a place to go to feel like you were around family.”

Restaurant critic Rob Balon said the atmosphere and quality of the restaurant make it a staple of the Austin
food scene.

“The family-friendly atmosphere is certainly one thing,” Balon said. “You go there, and you almost never get a bad meal. It’s a short, simple menu, and it’s enough to keep people coming back.”

Ciani said the menu will remain almost exactly the same, with only an expanded drink menu, when El Patio reopens.

“It’s really important to preserve the traditions … and introduce a new generation to it,” Ciani said. “If you’re from Austin, you (already) know, but we want to get more in with UT students and our neighbors.”

Joe Vilches, a computer science and mathematics senior, said he has visited El Patio multiple times. He said having El Patio back means having another place students can get together outside of classes.

“The people there were always really nice,” Vilches said. “It just felt like a good place to be, like you were welcome, and you could just chill and have a good time.”

Balon said El Patio’s return showed the success of their business practices, from their simple menu to their welcoming atmosphere in their time as a long-standing Austin restaurant.

“The word ‘iconic’ gets thrown around a lot,” Balon said. “They understand what a lot of chain restaurants don’t. Lots of these places have been dropping like flies. They’ve got a good enough thing going to keep it up when they come back.”

Ciani said when the restaurant does reopen, she’s looking forward to carrying on a family tradition for years to come. 

“It takes on my granddad’s legacy,” Ciani said. “He would call everybody a cousin because everybody was to him. It’s a special situation for me now. I could probably think of a better word than special, but that’s what comes to mind. I don’t even know how to put it into words.”