In 2005, a fire destroyed Beau Theriot's Oasis restaurant on Lake Travis, a place where tourists, couples and escape-minded Austinites applauded the sunset from cascading tiers of wooden decks.
But Theriot rebuilt and reopened the Oasis just a year later, and now it's poised to become the core of a larger restaurant and retail development called Oasis, Texas.
The development will bring in two new restaurants to the site north of RM 620 at 6550 Comanche Trail: Soleil, a concept driven by Houston chef Robert Del Grande, and a second location of Uncle Billy's Brew and Que. It also will include about 30,000 square feet of retail space and about 10,000 feet of office space, said Bob Schultz, a real estate developer and investor who co-owns the new development with Theriot through Comanche Canyon West Commercial Partners LP.
The new restaurants will add 1,200 seats; the original Oasis already seats 2,200.
Construction on Oasis, Texas began in September, Schultz said, and the restaurants are expected to be open by the fall. He said the retail portion of the project is expected to open next spring. He declined to say how much the project would cost.
Theriot was out of the country and could not be reached.
Soleil is being developed by Houston's Schiller Del Grande Restaurant Group, drawing on the culinary reputation of Del Grande, the James Beard Award-winning chef behind Houston's renowned RDG + Bar Annie. Robert Del Grande's specialty is a combination of upscale grill with elements of Texas and the Southwest, such as beef-rib enchiladas, shrimp tacos and Texas oyster cornbread dressing.
Lonnie Schiller, CEO of Schiller Del Grande, said Del Grande won't be cooking at Soleil but is developing the menu, which will incorporate Mediterranean and American influences from burgers to pasta and pizza to a seafood bar, plus cocktails and wine.
"Soleil was a name we liked because of the sun, obviously, and we thought it would be the correct image for the lake," Schiller said.
Soleil fits into what Schiller characterized as a three-tiered dining approach at Oasis, Texas, going from homestyle barbecue and beer at Uncle Billy's to destination views for Tex-Mex and margaritas at the Oasis to elevated — Schiller stopped short of calling it upscale — decor and dining at Soleil.
Austin's Dick Clark Architecture designed the site and the multilevel building that Soleil and Uncle Billy's will occupy. Candice Schiller of Schiller Del Grande is designing Soleil's decor. The group will be part owner of Soleil, but the restaurant will be operated by Austin's Restaurant Freedom group, Lonnie Schiller said.
Restaurant Freedom also will oversee Uncle Billy's at the Oasis site. The group, co-owned by Austin restaurateur Rick Engel and Mark Turner, also operates Little Woodrow's, Austin Java, Texadelphia, Ski Shores Café and the Barton Springs Road location of Uncle Billy's.
Theriot and Schultz will share ownership of the new restaurants through a partnership with Engel called the Lake Travis Restaurant Group.
The Uncle Billy's at Oasis, Texas will have 800 seats on two levels and a 20-barrel in-house brewing facility overseen by brewer Brian Peters, Engel said. The menu will be the same as the restaurant on Barton Springs Road, focusing on barbecue and burgers.
Engel, who said he lives 15 minutes from the Oasis, said he was attracted by the potential to turn the once-or-twice-a-year Oasis experience into a dining-and-shopping experience worth visiting "two or three times a week."
Schultz declined to name the retail tenants but said: "We're really focusing on boutiques and specialty-oriented retailers. We're going to stick with people who are doing something that's unique, and uniquely Austin."
The project was designed by Dick Clark Architecture of Austin, Schultz said, with input from himself and Theriot.
Schultz said the development will have Hill Country and Spanish influences, with a metal roof and varied use of tile, brick and local stone.
"We believe in this property for many, many years to come. We're not investing in it for the short term," he said.
firstname.lastname@example.org, 912-5902; email@example.com, 912-2960