Apr 26, 2023 - News

Restaurant eyed for Herb Bar property

The exterior of the Herb Bar.

The exterior of the Herb Bar. Photo: Asher Price/Axios

A landmark of South Austin bohemia could become home to a restaurant.

Driving the news: The owner of the property that's currently the site of the Herb Bar, the ivy-covered emporium of echinacea that bills itself as "Austin's oldest apothecary and metaphysical shop" (it's been in operation since 1986), has applied with the city of Austin for a zoning change to allow a restaurant, per documents reviewed by Axios.

What's happening: The Herb Bar, located at 200 W. Mary St., a block west of a bustling stretch of South Congress Avenue, is actually zoned residential, even though the property has operated as a shop or food sales spot since the early 1900s, per the mixed-use zoning change application.

Details: The 0.16-acre property, with current buildings totaling about 2,000 square feet, is "an optimal location for retail and commercial services within walking distance of those in the neighborhood," per the application. Approval "allows continued flexibility for the property to anticipate and provide services to residents."

  • The applicant is River Sharpe, listed as manager of Herb Bar Soco LLC — which has owned the property since August, per the Travis Central Appraisal District. Developer Gary Sharpe of River Sharpe Holdings has redeveloped key nearby properties, including a planned luxury one-suite hotel on South Congress.
  • Also the owner of a string of residential properties on nearby Eva Street, River Sharpe is represented in the zoning application by prominent Austin real estate attorney Nikelle Meade.

What they're saying: Meade tells Axios that Sharpe "wants to preserve Herb Bar and its iconic building but expand to allow for a wider variety of services, restaurant included."

Between the lines: Herb Bar owner Megen Mundy tells Axios the shop itself is "not adding a restaurant," adding that she is "not sure what the eventual plans are" for the property.

  • She said her lease is scheduled to last "at least a few more years."

What's next: The city is hosting a virtual community meeting on the proposed zoning change at 6pm Thursday.

  • The Herb Bar is hosting a garden market from noon to 4pm on Saturday, open to the public, with an aura photography booth, an herbal elixir bar, tarot readers, a sound therapy concert and a frozen banana stand.

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