Man, what a wonderful life this really is. The great experiences and boatloads of fun just keep on comin’…
This past Friday night, I was invited to attend the VIP Opening Party at an extremely fascinating and unique new addition to the Austin bar and restaurant scene, Freedmen’s Craft Cocktails and Fine Foods, located at 2402 San Gabriel Street, on the back side of the uber-popular sports bar, Cuatro’s Austin.
The official description found on Freedmen’s Facebook page pretty much nails it…”a laid back lounge, beer garden, and smokehouse in a historic building with retro-inspired cocktails.” Housed in a priceless Civil War-era building constructed in 1869, I was very impressed by the look and feel of Freedmen’s, the killer fixtures and well thought out design, outstanding and creative cocktail offerings, the outdoor beer garden area, as well as the hip, fun and knowledgeable bartenders and staff.
Due to time constraints with my evening, I was, unfortunately not able to take in any of the Freedmen’s food offerings, but I will say the aromas and sights of the food being served makes me want to rush back to try. The menu includes a selection of charcuterie, heaping helpings of barbecue (brisket, pork spare ribs, sausage and turkey), various varieties of pickles and an array of sides including German potatoes and grilled cabbage stew.
Above all else, though, I was most impressed by “The Story of Freedmen’s,” which I share with you here…
An Austin historic landmark, also known as the Franzetti Store, was built in 1869 by a former slave named George Franklin. Constructed in the vernacular architecture of Central Texas, the building became the heart of Wheatville, one of Austin’s freedmen’s settlements. These communities were established throughout Texas after the Civil War by freed slaves who, despite hardship, aspired to land ownership, self-reliance and a better way of life for their families.
One of the building’s residents, Reverend Jacob Fontaine (1808-1898), was a prominent community leader of Wheatville. Reverend Fontaine helped to establish some of Austin’s black churches, including the Sweet Home Baptist Church and the New Hope Missionary Baptist Church. He also published The Gold Dollar, one of the first newspapers for Austin’s black community. The Gold Dollar not only kept the community informed about important events, but also helped newly freed slaves learn to read and assisted them in locating lost relatives after the Civil War. In his writing, Reverend Fontaine advised the community to work hard and save for the future. His words and deeds represent the spirit of the once-vibrant community of Wheatville.
Over the years, the beloved building that now houses Freedmen’s Craft Cocktails and Fine Foods has served as a residence, a church, a publishing house and a grocery store. Freedmen’s is named in honor of those who established a tradition of community and commerce here many years ago.
Freedmen’s Craft Cocktails and Fine Foods is currently open for limited hours, but will be extending their hours in January 2013. Until then, I highly recommend you head to Freedmen’s for dinner, enjoy the spacious outdoor beer garden and stay to sample their stable of fantastic signature cocktails.
Freedmen’s Craft Cocktails and Fine Foods
2402 San Gabriel Street
Austin, TX 78705