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Small business week: New Sammie's Italian Restaurant carries on a family legacy

Sammie's Italian Restaurant is already so popular almost the whole month is reserved during dinner time. (Sammie's/Instagram)

You know what they say, the best things come in pairs. So, taking over the former West 6th home of 80-year burger joint Hut's Hamburgers and Favorite Liquor Shop is Sammie's Italian Restaurant and Favorite Pizza.

With the promise of preserving the history and art-deco character of the buildings, McGuire Moorman Hospitality, the group behind multiple Austin establishments like Lamberts Downtown Barbecue and Perla's Seafood and Oyster Bar, opened Sammie's last week as a comfy and nostalgic Italian-American classic.

Larry McGuire and Tom Moorman, both Austin-based chefs, paired with the design expertise of South Congress visionary Liz Lambert to honor the great "red sauce institution," reminiscent of legendary New York City Italian restaurants.

The building has a family history: Mildred Joseph, the matriarch of the family, started Sammie's Drive-In in the same building in 1939 until it was leased by Hut's. Philip Joseph, the son of Sammie Joseph Sr., has known McGuire for years and said when he heard the news of Hut's closure, he immediately got in touch with the hospitality group. Now, the restaurant will return to its namesake and serve as "A Little Taste of Old Italy."

"We've always dreamed of opening a classic red sauce and pizza spot in Austin where friends can gather to celebrate special occasions and downtown business folk can enjoy long martini-filled lunches," McGuire said. "We could never find the right place until the Joseph family approached us about taking over their historic buildings. It's an honor to carry on the tradition first started by the Joseph family to the city we love."

And it's already a hit. A table for two at 7 p.m. is booked for the rest of the month, so you'll need to book way in advance for date night.

The menu features the classics: mozzarella sticks, spaghetti and meatballs and ravioli bolognese, while also upping the ante with new twists like linguine vongole and veal marsala, as well as a full cocktail menu.

Since no Italian restaurant is complete without pizza, Favorite Pizza will sit just next door, offering whole pies, pizza by the slice, salads and plenty of beer on tap. This will also be the place to grab a frosty cocktail or a cup of gelato.

Sammie's, 807 West 6th Street, will be open from 5-11 p.m. Sunday-Wednesday and 5 p.m.-12 a.m. Thursday-Saturday, though they have plans to open for lunch soon. Favorite Pizza, 801 West 6th Street, will open this month.


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