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New coffee shop moves into historic South Austin building

Arianna Auber
Merit Coffee opened its first location outside of San Antonio in Austin's bustling Seaholm District last year and will open its second local cafe on South Lamar. [Contributed]

A rapidly expanding coffee shop and roasting company is taking over the historic building where Stonehouse Coffee & Bar set up shop a couple of years ago on South Lamar Boulevard.

The San Antonio-based Merit Coffee, which opened its first Austin location early last year in the Seaholm District, will open at 1105 S. Lamar Blvd. on Feb. 11 after a brief revamp of the space. The building — a small stone house that was erected in 1900 as the middle-class home of two sisters, Mary and Nannie Dawson — received city and state landmark designation a few decades ago, protecting it from being demolished.

Stonehouse Coffee's purveyors, FBR Management, received approval in 2016 to transform the old building into a cafe, with an interior design by the locally venerated Michael Hsu Office of Architecture. Merit's Seaholm spot similarly relies on wood accents and white walls for its clean, welcoming look, so the Dawson Stone House, as the building is called, might not change much.

But Merit is planning to bring in new equipment and "litter the place with Merit soul," according to a news release.

“South Lamar has become a dining destination, and we’re psyched to open on this stretch of incredible restaurants and bars in the heart of South Central Austin,” Merit founder Robby Grubbs said in the release, noting that the Merit team loves "how neighorhood-y and warm this location is."

Expect the same menu at the South Lamar shop that you'll find at the Seaholm District cafe, including a range of coffee, espresso, tea and hot chocolate options. Plus, there will be baked goods from Bakery Lorraine — also a lauded San Antonio business that made the move into Austin last year — Tacodeli tacos and pressed juices.

Though closing down Stonehouse, FBR Management remains the operators behind many popular local bars, including South Lamar neighbor Gibson Street Bar.

Merit Coffee also recently announced an expansion into Dallas.