Courtesy ThunderCloud Subs
Businesses look to open new locations in downtown area
For more than 12 years, Mike Haggerty wanted to open one of his Austin-based sub sandwich shops in Georgetown, but the right location was never available.
In May, he won the bid to purchase the former fire station bay building at 816 S. Main St. from the City of Georgetown, and a ThunderCloud Subs is expected to open there sometime in October, he said.
“We’ve got a store in Round Rock that does fairly well, and since we opened that store in 1993, people have been saying, ‘When are you going to open a location in Georgetown?’” Haggerty said.
Haggerty is one of several Austin business owners interested in expanding to the Georgetown market, specifically in downtown, said Shelly Hargrove, manager of the Georgetown Main Street Program.
“We love the community of Georgetown,” Haggerty said. “It seemed like a great location to us, and when this [building] became available to us, it just seemed like where we wanted to be.”
A good fit
Haggerty said his business fits nicely into Georgetown’s landscape and seemed like a natural fit for the restaurant.
“I think now you are going to see more ingenious, self-motivated and entrepreneurial people coming out to the outer ’burbs because of the hassle of living in Austin,” he said. “I think those people are coming out to places like Georgetown, Dripping Springs and Marble Falls because they still have [character].”
Located just off the Square, the new location will be paired with a separate concept that has yet to be decided, but could feature the same fresh and healthy concept as ThunderCloud Subs and beer and wine, Haggerty said.
“This gives us an opportunity to take our business management/restaurant expertise and try something else that will be fun for us,” he said. “Our idea is to have a complementary business that helps us fill out the other parts [of the day] that ThunderCloud is not as strong on. Generally, 60 percent of our business is between 11 [a.m.] and 2 [p.m.] and we would like to have something that fills in the mornings and the evenings.”
Haggerty said the concept could be a breakfast or dinner option or an Amy’s Ice Creams, although Haggerty said the sandwich chain could decide just to serve Amy’s Ice Creams as a part of its menu.
“They’re really much more urban than we are,” he said. “Our client base is more three to four times a week—the people that come to ThunderCloud, we are their lunch place, and they eat lunch every day. Whereas Amy’s is a treat, and people tend to get that much less often.”
The restaurant is expected to close on the building in late June, Deputy City Manager Laurie Brewer said.
Future plans could also include putting in a rooftop deck for live music and other gatherings, Haggerty said.
Another burger restaurant
In addition to ThunderCloud Subs, Austin-based Hat Creek Burger Co. has plans to build the company’s third location, which will be at 405 S. Austin Ave. The restaurant got a special-use permit from City Council for its drive-thru May 22. Hat Creek owner Drew Gressett said he is now working through the design and development process with the city.
[We think] the Georgetown Square is a fantastic place,” Gressett said. “That property does a lot for providing for families to come to Georgetown and enjoy the Square.”
Gressett said he plans to open an approximately 3,000-square-foot restaurant with indoor and outdoor seating and a children’s play area.
“We want to have a Hat Creek in Georgetown, and we’re excited about the possibility of getting that done,” Gressett said.
City Manager Paul Brandenburg said the city has been working aggressively to recruit new businesses to Georgetown.
An IF Marketing & Advertising report issued in July 2011 recommended the city re-evaluate the use of city-owned properties on the Square.
Since the report was issued, the city sold the buildings at 101 W. Seventh St. and 614 S. Main St. to Fredericksburg-based Grape Creek Vineyards and sold the former fire truck bay building to ThunderCloud Subs.
“The city had to take a leadership role,” Brandenburg said about implementing the IF Marketing & Advertising report.
The IF Marketing & Advertising report also suggested adding festivals and signature events to the city’s calendar as a way to draw interest to the downtown area. In May, the city hosted the inaugural Subaru of Georgetown Grand, the state criterium cycling championships, in downtown Georgetown.
“The Grand has been a catalyst,” she said. “A lot of these owners are somehow linked to [the cycling] industry, and that’s who we want—active lifestyle-type businesses and professional entrepreneurs.”
Hargrove said other Austin businesses already in Georgetown has also brought restaurant owners and retailers to the downtown.
“It doesn’t hurt that ThunderCloud Subs has already made a commitment to come here,” she said. “It makes it less of a risk, and [those business owners] are going to be our best spokespeople to other businesses.”