Wright Bros. Brew & Brew, Style in Austin
STYLE PICK: WRIGHT BROS. BREW & BREW
For this minimal east Austin bar, there are only two necessities – coffee and beer.
The Wright Bros. Brew & Brew story goes like this: Brothers Grady and Matt Wright were regulars at the Frank coffee bar, where Matt Bolick worked behind the bar. While shooting the breeze one day, the topic arose: Wouldn’t it be great to someday open a craft beer bar and coffee shop? Thus the B&B was (unofficially) born, with Bolick in the meantime leaving Frank to co-open his own roastery and coffee hub, Flat Track, in the back of a shared retail space on Cesar E. Chavez. Eventually, after a brutal location hunt for the Wright-Bolick collaboration, an unexpected opportunity presented itself: Progress Coffee, one of the first businesses to redirect Austin’s attention eastward, was up for sale. And, as Bolick says, “A month and a half later, we were the proud new owners. Insane.”
The Brew & Brew, which opened in late September, remains true to its original vision: Dark lettering on the wall spells out: “Good Beans & Good Beers,” an accurate jingle for the space’s modest objective. Their online manifesto reads: “We believe that there is no reason to separate a great coffee shop from a familiar bar. At the highest level of quality, these products make the perfect pairing.” The menu is limited—coffee, espresso drinks, and craft beer—in a way that feels less like high coffee snobbery and more like, ‘there’s no need to get fancy.’ There’s also a small menu of hot sandwiches and bar snacks from Dishalicious, and plans are in the works to incorporate a selective wine and cocktail list.
The interiors are simple, transformed from the pastel and lighthearted Progress days into, well, something more serious: This is grown-up coffee and beer. (A friend commented, “Everyone in here looks…employed,” which in any city other than Austin wouldn’t be worth observing.) Ultimately, the B&B’s aesthetic is an exercise in intention, considering how many different creative Austin hands were involved in sheparding the project from idea to execution. The long bar, designed by Erik Culver of Old Boy Co., is the true focal point of the space, housing the espresso machine, taps, and a row of bar seats. The industrial-meets-schoolhouse interior, with painted brick walls, subtle color pops, and dim lighting, was done by Grace Design, who collaborated on furniture pieces with South Lamar boutique Mockingbird Domestics. Additional woodworking—bench seating, shelving, and cabinetry—was done by Josh Holstein, and the clean graphic design is from Justin Cox and Cody Haltom of Public School.
What’s most interesting about the Brew & Brew is the sort of transitional space it represents, especially for East Austin. It is simultaneously both a coffee shop and a bar, and also entirely neither of these things; it’s a place that is equally appropriate to unfold a laptop but also kick back at the bar for a couple drinks. Mostly, the Brew & Brew is just a quiet, well-designed place to hang out, a seemingly simple qualification that’s surprisingly hard to come by in this city. Perhaps, at least in the Brew & Brew’s case, less is truly more.
(512) 493 0963