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Redbud Ice House Offers Wagyu Burgers and a Welcoming Gathering Place for the Community

Michael Fojtasek and Ben Fordham share the inspirations behind their authentically Austin restaurant

Great burgers and more at Redbud Ice House (photo courtesy of MaieB Hospitality)

When we heard about Redbud Ice House, the fifth and latest concept from MaieB Hospitality, we couldn’t help but take notice. Previously occupied by BBQ Ramen Tatsu-Ya, and longtime staple Contigo before that, the spacious property at 2027 Anchor Lane was to once again welcome a dining destination befitting of the vibrant neighborhood it inhabits. 

The restaurant opened its doors on March 19, created by celebrated chef Michael Fojtasek and MaieB Hospitality CEO Ben Fordham. Each of the group’s eateries — including Olamaie, Little Ola’s, Gimme Burger and Maie Day — feature intentionally crafted, community-focused experiences that leave room for serendipitous encounters and the formation of new traditions. Despite the short notice and fast paced timeline, this endeavor is no different.

“A Place for Buds”

Redbud is a heartfelt tribute to Austin’s inherently nostalgic culture, made possible by the established relationships and shared vision of its partners. This includes Contigo Group’s Andrew Wiseheart and Ben Edgerton, who gave insight on the history of the space and needs of the surrounding community, and next door neighbors and founders of Batch Craft Beer & Kolaches, Noah and Laura Lit, who owned the property before bringing in the MaieB team.

“That kind of history and story building of Austin, I’m excited to be a part of,” says Fordham as he settles into one of the restaurant’s crimson leather booths. “Contigo operated here for 10 years. It was hugely loved. It’s an opportunity to learn from what they did and then take it forward to the next generation — hopefully for decades that we can be here and be a part of that fabric.” 

Ben Fordham & Michael Fojtasek (photo courtesy of MaieB Hospitality)

Known for effortlessly blending down-to-earth experiences with upscale fare, it was immensely important to Fojtasek and Fordham to make Redbud a gathering place for every type of Austinite — families with young kids like them, residents of nearby Mueller, and buds looking for a regular weekly hangout. “This for us has been an active effort to give this community not only some of what they had, but something new and different,” adds Fojtasek. 

This mindset is also rooted in the approachable menu, which stars a thoughtfully composed Wagyu beef cheeseburger.

Casual Southern Food That’s Full of Surprises

While Gimme Burger at Butler Pitch & Putt represents Fojtasek’s quintessential hamburger, unabashedly mustard-forward and indulgent with double-patties, Redbud’s creation is his gift to everyone, perfectly balanced with the goal to please a range of palettes.

The meticulous detail is apparent in each bite, from the hand-selected ingredients to the local businesses from which they’re sourced. The savory Texas French Bread buns actually hold their structure against the combination of fresh ingredients inside, while the prized Wagyu beef is purchased just 15 minutes away from Josh Eilers’ Ranger Cattle.

“What we’re able to do through our relationships is really bring in extremely high quality products, but make them simple. Our burger is priced at $12, but in that we’ve still got some of the best beef in Texas,” explains Fordham. “By having this Wagyu beef that’s locally raised, and because of the relationship we hold there, you can still have this level of culinary ability and thoughtfulness in the menu, and make it an accessible price point.”

“And it’s really fun,” chimes in Fojtasek, who spent much of his career working in high pressure fine dining establishments. “It really helps that the gentleman running this kitchen I trained for years at Olamaie, so he understands how to execute quality. I think that’s why I’m sitting here smiling so much.”

The menu at Redbud Ice House is pleasantly versatile, featuring a collection of casual southern fare with signature surprises that transcend diner’s expectations. Other must-try favorites include the popcorn shrimp sandwich with cocktail sauce and the seriously tender fried pork chop sandwich. Somehow, stacked between two layers of collard slaw and okra mayo, the battered pork stays crispy and craveable. Paying homage to its predecessors, you’ll even find Contigo’s beloved fried green bean recipe on the menu — plus some classic soft serve ice cream.

Meanwhile, the drinking is just as easy with frozen cocktails and ice cold beer. The team has been working across the fence with Batch to create a unique house brew that exemplifies the restaurant’s laid back feel. “We’re coining the term ‘Hill Country Kolsch,’” Fordham shares, detailing the collaborative process. “We wanted to have a beer that really spoke to being in this space, being outside. It’s not overly complicated and feels light and fresh.” 

burger time at Redbud Ice House (photo courtesy of MaieB Hospitality)

Old Austin Designed for a Modern Audience

The story of Texas can also be found throughout the warm and wooden interiors. When looking for a partner that could design the space in a way that transports guests to another time and place, the decision was obvious. 

“I had been trying to work with Ann Edgerton for a long time on projects that actually never got off the ground, so I jumped at the opportunity to have her do the work here,” says Fojtasek. “The pieces fell together really quickly, but all with synergy and a lot of the contributors already having worked together in some form or fashion.” Ann happens to be married to Ben Edgerton, one of many connections built into Redbud’s identity. 

The layout is inspired by the open culture of 70s-era Austin and the togetherness that echoed through iconic former mainstays like Soap Creek Saloon, Dry Creek Cafe and Armadillo Headquarters. Eventually, playable musical instruments will line the walls alongside its retro concert posters and western memorabilia. The outdoor playground, constructed from reclaimed Contigo wood, has been kiddo-approved while the expansive patio offers ample seating and connective community tables. Herbs and vegetables will soon fill the planters sitting in the front lot, supplying the organization’s multiple kitchens and creating another level of sustainability.

Come One, Come All

After assembling a small crew of trusted employees and tirelessly working to bring the project to fruition, the restaurant celebrated its launch with a rollicking party during South by Southwest, welcoming around 600 visitors with free live music from Spaceflight Records. The event offered a glimpse into the multipurpose ways the space will be utilized moving forward, and for Fordham and Fojtasek, there’s no slowing down.

Guests can look forward to game day watch parties, cool brand collaborations, and a soon-to-be-announced crawfish boil. There will also be many more opportunities for live music — a personal passion for the restaurateurs. 

“I think music is intertwined in this place,” says Fojtasek, calling attention to the songs that have been humming over the speakers, a seamless soundtrack to our conversation and another finely-tuned element of the Redbud experience. “Currently this playlist is all full albums of artists we identified, both new and old, that we feel represent what we’re up to here. I mean, it goes from Townes to Selena to Orville Peck to Blaze Foley.”

The curated playlist is a component of the upcoming Redbud Radio. The platform will provide yet another chance for the team to engage with locals through a shared love of music, with hopes to ultimately expand to a variety of topics, from fun happenings to important community issues.

Through its deep consideration and endearing character, Redbud Ice House is excited to make new memories with its East Austin neighbors and guests. “We’ll provide the music, come enjoy the space and show us how it best gets used,” invites Fordham. 

Stay in the loop with announcements at and on Instagram @redbudicehouse. You can also get into the Texas spirit anytime with Redbud’s Jukebox, now streaming on Spotify and found below.