Longtime Austin restaurants depart the city, land at Austin-Bergstrom

With rent in Austin climbing higher each year, several local restaurants have shut their doors for good. 

“I mean we poured our souls into that place. We worked really hard on it,” said John Bates, co-owner of Noble Sandwich Co. 

After nine years on Burnet Road, Noble Sandwich Co. has gone dark.

“We've just kind of, essentially, been priced out of the neighborhood,” Bates said. 

Since opening the restaurant, Burnet has changed from an underserved corridor to a bustling area. As new developments went up, taxes and demand for retail took off. 

“As it grows and people want to be here, it definitely makes it more difficult for small places to operate with the increased costs,” said Bates.  

Customers' expectations changed over the past decade too. 

“In 2010, when we first opened up, there wasn't a whole lot of delivery options,” Bates said.  

Even with delivery growing ever more popular in the Capital City, Noble Sandwich was hesitant to get on board. Bates said even at his other restaurant, Interstellar BBQ, they have avoided entering an agreement with a third-party delivery service. 

“Although you're purchasing it through a delivery service, a lot of times your smaller restaurants and mom and pop shops aren't really seeing the revenue from that,” said Bates. 

Bates said 20-30 percent of the sales through those services go to the delivery company and he feels the food suffers when it isn't eaten right away. 

“If you want to support local, it's really better to go directly to the source,” Bates said. 

One place Bates won't have to worry about that is Austin-Bergstrom International Airport. 

“If you can get into the space, you have a captive audience. I mean, the Austin airport is growing every year, getting busier and busier and busier,” said Bates.  

Noble Sandwich Co. is set to open at the airport in a few months. 

A couple gates away is Hut's Hamburgers, another longtime Austin favorite closing its downtown location and landing at Austin-Bergstrom. 

“So one of the things we really pride ourselves on here at Austin-Bergstrom is reflecting the local culture of Austin,” Austin-Bergstrom public information and marketing manager Mandy McClendon said.

“Locals that are traveling and need a bite to eat are going to find the food they would hope to find in Austin,” Bates said.  

Although, soon, some of that food won't be found anywhere else in Austin anymore.

Owners of Noble Sandwich Co. are also working on a food truck, but they're still searching for a location to park it. They said they may consider delivering their food themselves to that immediate area.