How does the idea of dining at a new restaurant strike you? Not a new-to-you restaurant, but an entirely new restaurant. Did you even think that would still be an option as early as this summer?

Despite the massive hits the hospitality industry has taken over the last three months, not everything has ground to a complete halt. Dining rooms have reopened to 50% capacity, and some business owners are moving ahead with plans that have been in the works for months and even years.

One such operator with an eye to the future is Juniper chef Nic Yanes, who has teamed with Austin investor Richard Singleton to open Verbena, an all-day restaurant located at 612 W. Sixth St. The restaurant, which will be a part of the complex home to Canopy by Hilton Hotel, takes culinary cues from French and Mediterranean influences to create direct and seasonal fare in the vein that helped define California cuisine.

While the restaurant, named after the flowering plant that evokes feelings of freshness, is located at the forthcoming hotel, Yanes isn’t thinking in terms of appealing primarily to the tastes of travelers.

“We’re just focused on making a great restaurant. What we are going to do is not only offer delicious and interesting food but recognizable food that’s not too hard approach,” Yanes said. “We want to, and will hopefully, attract locals.”

Yanes, who reopened the patio and a few inside the dining room at his Hyde Park Italian cafe Uncle Nicky’s today and plans to partially reopen the dining room at fine dining Italian restaurant Juniper in East Austin on Monday, recognizes that it is a challenging and unprecedented time to open a new concept.

“There are definitely people who have fear, and that’s OK. And there are definitely people who are cautious, which is good,” said Yanes, adding that he thinks there is enough runway between now and the restaurant’s slated July opening to adjust to the ever-shifting facts on the ground.

Verbena, which will utilize indoor and outdoor space for its dining room and bar spaces designed by the Austin architects at Lake Flato, will initially open with grab-and-go breakfast items and modified lunch and dinner service as the restaurant navigates the rules and safety standards around the coronavirus and builds its clientele.


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