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Texas French Bread reopens in new patio space next door to former home

The patio area is next door to its original address in the Heritage neighborhood on Rio Grande Street.

AUSTIN, Texas — After Texas French Bread was destroyed in a fire in January, the bakery and restaurant reopened with a new outdoor garden space this week in Austin. The patio area is next door to its original address in the Heritage neighborhood on Rio Grande Street.

Owner of Texas French Bread, Murph Wilcott, recalled the night of the fire that sustained over $1.1 million in damages.

“I lived, at the time, a block from here,” Wilcott said. “I got a call at 11 on a Sunday night. I stepped out on the balcony of my second-floor bedroom and I could see the flames above the trees. I think I knew in that moment, moving forward, things were going to look a lot different for a little while.”

The outdoor space includes an airstream trailer serving up the ability to cook and serve coffees and teas – but preparation of certain menu items, like its famous baked goods, are prepped in a separate commercial kitchen in North Austin and brought to the new trailer to serve.

By 1:30 p.m. Thursday, Texas French Bread was sold out.

“I was here for 2 to 3 hours this morning during our peak time and just seeing a lot of our old friends of the business was really, really heartwarming,” Wilcott said. “It felt really great. Lots of hugs from people I haven’t seen in a year.”

Wilcott says, despite practicing law in New York and other work ventures, he has spent much of his working life with Texas French Bread. His mother started the bakery in 1981. His father was also involved in the business. Through his time at the University of Texas at Austin, WiIlcott worked for his family. In 2007, Wilcott took over.

Wilcott called it a shock to not only see the fire but to see and feel the community’s overwhelming support afterward.

“Our good friend started a GoFundMe and raised $200,000 for us,” Wilcott shared. “It was incredible.”

But the support didn’t stop there. Wilcott said the owners of Franklin’s Barbecue, who once experienced a fire at their restaurant themselves, offered Texas French Bakery its trailer to run its company “food truck-style.”

“I would be remiss if I did not thank them. I mean, I am forever indebted to them,” Wilcott said. “And, yes, the trailer is great – but what, how they really got us back up and moving was their enthusiasm and support.”

Wilcott said they didn't make too big of an announcement of their new opening but plan to more outwardly spread the word after a few days of working out any kinks they may come across in their first few days.

He said Texas French Bread has a lot of life yet to be lived.

"Carissa, my wife, and I talked about it and we weren’t ready to let go of it [after the fire]. There’s too many people who love it," Wilcott said.

And, at the same time, Wilcott and his wife, Carissa, have put out requests for development proposals for the Rio Grande space. The two are looking for a multi-story development that would incorporate Texas French Bread as a ground-floor tenant.

"We’ve saved as much of the old building as we can. We’re hoping it’s going to be a part of whatever we do moving forward, but those details are still being worked out at this point," Wilcott said.

The outdoor Texas French Bread’s hours are from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., Tuesday through Sunday.

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