Austin is the kind of town where the concept of “laid back” is ingrained into the daily fabric of life. The sartorial casualness that kind of flows from the campuses, tech firms and home offices resonates outward and has created a minimalist style of dining attire here – even at the fine dining establishments – that occasionally shocks visitors from other cities who are more used to dressing up.
The history of successful Austin restaurants that have required male customers to wear jackets is a very short one. Well, actually, there is no list. It’s been tried several times, no doubt with the best of intentions. And each attempt has been an abject failure, the most recent being Parind Vora’s exquisite reinvention of Jezebel on W 6th. Ironically, the restaurant shuttered [now reopened in Lockhart] while it was up for consideration on Bravo’s Best New Restaurant in the U.S.
Parind felt that Austin deserved a restaurant where a guy could put on a jacket for a special dinner. I agreed with him and still do. I like putting on a jacket or suit occasionally for a nice dinner. I’m just about certain, however, that it should not be a mandate; at least not in Austin. And given the fierce level of competition among fine dining places for a relatively small potential audience do you really want to turn away business because the guy lacks a jacket?
I would rather see some regulation on the other side of the fine dining continuum. For example, no tee-shirts, torn jeans, flip flops, cut-offs, tank tops, etc. I’ve seen more than I care to of this kind of attire at places where you would think the patrons would know better. This is not brain surgery. I think most guys know how to do business casual without having to wear a jacket or a suit.
I’ve got a call into Parind to see what his policy on this is in Lockhart. But rest assured it’s fairly certain we won’t see another rule like this in Austin fine dining anytime soon.
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