Beavers coming out of the woodwork (literally), subdued mason jar lighting hanging from the rafters, a huge outdoor yard, BBQ from one of the most famous pits in history, fruit-infused liquor, all-you-can-eat flapjack breakfast for $5, free Wi-Fi, full bar, coffee, open 24/7…should I go on?
Anyone who keeps up with the Austin scene has already heard the clamoring about this new joint on East Riverside. But the chatter shouldn’t surprise anyone. When the owner of Bootleg Coffee gets together with the manager of Emo’s and the marketing director at Antone’s for a project, you know something special is on tap.
And they’re just getting started.
Since the grand opening of The Buzz Mill on January 19, 2013, we’ve had numerous Austinot readers ask us to pay them a visit. And so we did.
Stepping Into The Buzz Mill
A short flight of steps opens into an enclosed area which is on the smaller side, but still alive with character. Natural cut logs make up the base of the bar, complete with a taxidermic beaver that pokes his head out to greet visitors. Various woodsy-themed photos line the walls, and the specials are written on an old school chalkboard.
“We wanted it to be like an illusion of stepping into a different city. Sure you are still in Austin, but when you step into The Buzz Mill we wanted it to be a little escape that transports you to another place.” -Ross Bennett, Marketing Director
Ross wasn’t kidding. He met us at The Buzz Mill sporting a full beard and wearing a traditional black and red plaid lumberjack shirt. This wasn’t an act. It was just part of the illusion made real by this new local hangout. At first glance, The Buzz Mill reminded me of what I would expect to find in the logging woods along the coast of Oregon or Washington.
As far as drink options go, The Buzz Mill has plenty. Choices range from whiskey infused with apple and cinnamon, to Hamm’s Beer in a can, to a range of normal coffee choices, and some off the wall concoctions for good measure. Coffee-soda, anyone?
Before heading outside, we ran into local comedian Chris Cubas. I asked him for his thoughts on The Buzz Mill. “It’s a good spot. I always feel like I’m welcome here. The other bars in this neighborhood are clumpachanga and I don’t feel welcome. The coffee here is really good too. It’s a perfect little coffee shop. I’m a regular for sure.”
I thanked Chris and, as we were walking outside, he added, “And on Sunday they have a good, big breakfast. You should check it out.”
It’s true. On Sunday from 10 AM to 2 PM, The Buzz Mill offers all-you-can-eat flapjacks for $5. Diners sit around the outdoor yard, and are served off of a communal plate as each batch comes out hot. The Buzz Mill also offers hearty, house-made bacon for a small additional charge. Definitely adding this event to my personal bucket list. Build-your-own Bloody Mary’s and Mimosas for $4 each
The sound of live music greeted us as we stepped outside to a large fenced yard. The yard was pleasant, featuring a cinder block fire pit, bench seating and a smattering of tables with chairs.
Adding to the ambiance of the yard was the aroma of good ole’ fashioned Texas BBQ – Blue Ox BBQ, to be specific. Interestingly enough, Blue Ox was cooking meat out of Franklin BBQ’s original pit, which they purchased. Nice touch, Buzz Mill.
Editor’s Note: As of September 2015, BBQ is no longer offered at Buzz Mill. Instead, food trailer Bark and Briar will be opening soon with “green and vegan options.”
Ross invited us to sample some of Blue Ox’s BBQ. Without too much arm-twisting, we tried a small sampling which included brisket, coffee-roasted pork tenderloin and pork ribs, and featured a maple bacon BBQ sauce.
The ribs were the standout, and the maple bacon BBQ sauce complimented all of the meats nicely.
The Skinny on The Buzz Mill’s Future Plans
Ross gave us the down-low on interesting upcoming plans for The Buzz Mill:
- Hopefully by April 2013, The Buzz Mill plans to offer delivery of their coffee and Blue Ox BBQ via bike and motorcycle.
- Mid-to-late summer 2013, The Buzz Mill plans to start a loyalty program. Patrons will earn patches by doing different tasks, like trying various coffee drinks and coming to special events. Once you earn a certain number of patches, you’ll be awarded a Buzz Mill cup that’ll be kept at The Buzz Mill. Your cup will net you discounts plus street cred every time you use it.
- Also on the slate is “Cuckoo Minutes.” This is a fun bar game that The Buzz Mill plans to start up in the not too distant future. It works like this: there is a cuckoo clock on the wall. On the hour at 4, 5 and 6 PM when the cuckoo sounds off, Hamm’s Beer (at the bar only) will be 50 cents for five minutes. You can imagine a crowd of fun at the bar every hour on the hour. The Buzz Mill will be the only place in town to offer Hamm’s on tap.
Closing Thoughts on The Buzz Mill Austin
The Buzz Mill will not ever be your typical Austin hang out. They’ve found a great location and they have the right connections in town, excellent coffee, mouth-watering food and creative drink selections.
More than all that, they have imagination and they’re willing to take risks.
For The Buzz Mill, it’s about making East Riverside a destination – rather than a stopover – on the way to or from downtown. With Austin innovators coming up with places like The Buzz Mill, this might actually happen.
Austinot @EricHighland Asks:
Have you been to The Buzz Mill? What are your thoughts? Comment below and let us know.