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Former Driskill chef David Bull to open two restaurants at Austonian condo tower

Mike Stutter
The Austonian luxury condo tower downtown is set to open this summer. The ground floor will feature two restaurants and a BerryAustin yogurt shop.

Former Driskill Grill chef David Bull said Friday that he plans to return to the downtown culinary scene in September with two restaurants at the Austonian.

Bull, who shaped the Driskill Grill into one of the city's best restaurants and competed on the Food Network's "Iron Chef America," will oversee an upscale restaurant named Congress and a more casual spot called Second at Congress.

Both will be on the ground floor of the 56-story luxury condominium tower, which is scheduled to open in June at Second Street and Congress Avenue.

Bull will supervise both restaurants as part of La Corsha Restaurant Partners, an outgrowth of the hospitality group that manages the Stoneleigh Hotel and its Bolla restaurant in Dallas and the St. Anthony hotel in San Antonio.

Bull will continue to oversee food service at those hotels, but he'll be cooking in Austin.

"There's a very exciting scene happening downtown, and I can't wait to be a part of it," said Bull, who lives in Manor with his wife, Fawn, and their five children. "It's an accumulation of everything that I've learned over the past 15 years put into something that I can call my own."

La Corsha founder Jeff Trigger, who worked with Bull at the Mansion on Turtle Creek in Dallas and the renovation of the Driskill Hotel, said the Austonian's location is ideal for Bull.

"Downtown Austin can support the types of food we're looking to do. It's a gateway to the Second Street District," he said.

La Corsha is also involved in the planned retail development at the former Seaholm Power Plant, which includes another restaurant project.

David Mahn, vice president of the Austonian's developer, Benchmark Development, said national chains and other restaurant groups were interested in the Austonian, but the company gravitated toward working with a local company.

"With (Trigger and Bull's) stature in the community and their experience — and frankly, all the awards that David Bull has received over the years — it was just a natural for us to hook up with them," Mahn said.

Rumor had it at one point that a restaurant was angling for the top floor of the Austonian, but that never went beyond the discussion stage, Mahn said.

"We really wanted the views, especially at the top of the building, to be preserved for our residents," he said.

The restaurants are being designed by Austin's STG Design, interior designer Amber Lewis of Dallas, and the construction company HHCC Inc. of Austin, which worked on the Driskill renovation.

Joining them on the Austonian's ground floor will be BerryAustin, the second location of a frozen-yogurt shop owned by Kathy Steele of Austin.

Steele said she hopes to open by late summer. The yogurt shop, which will be on Second Street, will incorporate bricks from a former blacksmith shop at the site.

Steele, who is married to La Corsha's Trigger, said jokingly that if nothing else, the new shop will allow her to see her husband more often.; 912-5902