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Austin’s Codependent Cocktails + Coffee Has Retro Italian Café Vibes

Urbanspace’s first hospitality concept serves elevated drinks in a stylish setting

Principal designer of Urbanspace Real Estate + Interiors Merrill Alley didn’t think that Urbanspace CEO Kevin Burns would go for the cabernet and emerald green tiles she wanted to use in the bathrooms of their first hospitality concept, Codependent Cocktails + Coffee. The 1970s-inspired tiles were a little bit funky and could be positioned in a pattern to spell out a “C” and an “O.”

“He hates the color purple!” Alley laughs remembering bringing the tiles to Burns. Eventually those tiles, which line the single-occupancy restrooms at the back of the cocktail bar/coffee shop, would motivate the rest of the space’s vibe and color palette and later serve as inspiration for the logo’s typeface.

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“They spoke to this classic Italian vibe, with all of the marbles they use throughout their interiors, and they just set the tone in a really fun way. The color palette influenced and informed the whole space.”

Located at the bottom of The Independent Residences and adjacent to Urbanspace’s retail and design showroom, Codependent is a coffee shop by day and a cocktail bar at night. During the daytime hours, the light and airy space feels like a floating treehouse with the natural elements of Shoal Creek on full display. But, by night, a disco ball drops down from the ceiling, and the sexiness of the dark leather bar stools and seductive paintings — not to mention the establishment’s strict “no screens” rule after 6 p.m. — ushers in a totally different mood.

“We wanted to create a place that would be able to transition with the urban Austinite —from their first cup of cold brew in the morning to an afternoon business meeting, to their essential happy hour go-to — while still feeling like your neighborhood spot where you want to start your night out or have a nightcap,” Burns says.

Codependent opened quietly in September 2020, and while its opening didn’t make a huge splash considering its pandemic timeline, there was a lot of thought and care that went into the design of the space, as well as the food and beverage menus. Nic Yanes of Juniper and Uncle Nicky’s was no stranger to the Italian concept and crafted the breakfast and snack menus, while Bar Manager Isaac Ramon curated the tongue-in-cheek cocktail menu (see “Better with the Lights On” or the “Side Piece”), and General Manager Lindsay Drew fashioned the mostly European wine program.

Urbanspace COO Lara Burns Boyda explains the space was carefully calculated to be completely cohesive and offer a comfortable retro Italian café vibe, from the décor to the cocktails. It’s what they call “drinking by design.”

“The design was the driving force of everything — the branding, the logo, the drink menu. Everything is Italian inspired. We wanted people to know it’s a design-driven bar, but you’re also going to get amazing drinks here. It’s a highly curated space with amazing ambience.”

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Opening during the COVID pandemic did have its upsides. The team balanced the space with pockets of seating that make each spot feel private and unique. There’s a comfy couch in the back corner situated next to a giant Studio 54-esque painting of two scantily clad women. Overlooking the creek is a plush green banquette. And, of course, no food outlet in Austin would be complete without a patio, and Codependent offers several nooks and crannies to hole up in to enjoy a Greater Goods Coffee Roasters cup of joe while answering emails or sipping an aperitivo with friends during happy hour.

“It’s an amenity for the building and the community. We wanted a space where people could go multiple times a week — or even in a day,” Lara Burns Boyda says.

The best byproduct from enjoying a delicious coffee in a beautiful space created by an interior design firm? Pretty much every piece can be ordered next door. From the gorgeous Double Zero Barstools by Moroso lining the sleek bar to the patio Nautica Swing Chairs by Expormim welcoming guests at the front entrance, the pieces that inform Codependent’s aesthetic could also make their way into your home.

“Our intention is that you can live into these pieces. Design doesn’t have to be unapproachable or unattainable. It’s a great way to show off pieces from designers we love and celebrate,” Alley explains.

Up next for the Urbanspace team are the upcoming Bacalar and its taco to-go window at 44 East Ave. Residences on Rainey Street (set to open fall 2022) and the recently announced 55-story Modern Austin Residences located at 610 Davis St., which will house a similar concept to Codependent and likely break ground later next year.