Another long-running Austin restaurant has chosen to shutter its doors in the face of rising property taxes and rents.
Blue Star Kitchen + Bar, which opened in 2006 at 4800 Burnet Road before that stretch of town underwent a major transformation, served its final meal this week. Owner Eddie Bernal, a longtime fixture in the Austin restaurant world who also owns upmarket 34th Street Cafe, says he chose to close the restaurant due to a combination of factors that include rising rent and labor shortages, both of which have affected restaurants across the city.
Original named Blue Star Cafeteria, the restaurant was a go-to for people looking to please a group with diverse tastes on a manageable budget. When it opened in 2006, Blue Star, with sleek, modern design, served as an update for what Austinites had come to expect from a diner.
Bernal says that shopping center owner Wilder Properties wanted to raise his rent more than 20 percent, which does not take into account the rise in property taxes, tripling since the restaurant opened, that Blue Star has had to absorb.
“This makes it challenging to work together to keep our restaurant open, and the other tenants are facing the same issues,” Bernal said. “Local restaurateurs are not only juggling rent and taxes, but also labor shortages, added city policies, chain restaurant competition, and higher food costs.”
Bernal, who has lived in the neighborhood for most of his 34 years in Austin, says he will look for a prospective new location for Blue Star but in the meantime will serve food through an off-site catering operation.
Bernal’s Whole Enchilada Restaurant Group also operates Santa Rita Tex Mex Cantina & Santa Rita Fiesta Catering and Gusto Italian Restaurant + Wine Bar.
Correction: A previous version of this post incorrectly identified the landlord of Blue Star. It is Wilder Properties.