Teresa Wilson helmed excellent French restaurant Aquarelle downtown at 606 Rio Grande St. from 2000 to 2011. When the restaurant closed, Wilson decided she wanted to go in a more casual direction to fit the demands of the changing neighborhood. Then her partners decided to sell the building, sideling Wilson’s plans.
After three years away from the scene, Wilson and her husband are going to open Sala & Betty this fall at 5201 Airport Blvd. in the old Stallion Grill location. The name comes from the monikers Wilson and her sister used for each other as children.
Wilson will use the old Stallion drive-thru window to serve “slow food fast,” she said, and referenced her experience at the Austin City Limits Festival. That may mean things like shrimp po-boys and steak frites, using quality, local ingredients that Wilson hopes can take some of the guilt out of fast food.
The restaurant’s main dining room will focus “eclectic New American” cuisine, with Wilson serving as the executive chef at opening before eventually ceding control to Charles Mahle, who arrives from a stint as a chef at a boutique hotel in Seattle. Sala & Betty will serve breakfast, lunch and dinner, and will likely reflect some of Wilson’s former French influences.
The building will be designed by A R Construction of Austin and include some pecan wood from the adjacent Hyde Park neighborhood and will incorporate some architectural features from Aquarelle. Wilson hopes to have the restaurant open in November. Sala & Betty will join a burgeoning restaurant row on Airport Boulevard that includes Kome, In-N-Out Burger, Quality Seafood and (soon) the Omeletry. Wilson, who prepared some dishes at Aquarelle that may have been met with puzzled looks ten years ago (see: beef cheek terrine) is excited to join a dining scene that has exploded in recent years.
“I think that it’s great that people are more adventurous and want to try new types of food and new ingredients,” Wilson said.