Lunch couldn’t get any better than eating at Fare Ground, one of the trendiest culinary spots in Austin. Not only because of its amazing food choices and a great variety of local brews, but also for its exquisite design and attention to detail in every space.
Fareground is on the subterranean floor located at 111 South Congress Ave. and Second Street. It is curated and managed by ELM Restaurant Group and was designed by Michael Hsu Office of Architecture. The ground level of the One Eleven Building was re-purposed as the first food hall of its kind in Austin, TX, serving the downtown tourist and business areas. The space also functions as the lobby for the business center, accommodates events with a semi-private space, and has a conference room for large private meetings. It is also a place that many freelancers and remote workers conveniently utilize while enjoying the comfortable mid-contemporary soft seating areas.
As we traveled through the entrance from the parking garage that connects to the main building, we started to notice the tasteful design and attention to detail. Wood, white, and hot rolled metal finished walls with narrow LED lights and bronze ornamental reveals, dress up the hallway to the main lobby.
However, if you are coming from the main plaza, the first thing you’ll notice while someone at the bar greets you, is the wooden ceiling detail. The design feature is supported by black metal beams that reveal part of the original geometrical ceiling pattern of the building.
Most walls are covered with glossy thin brick on a vertical bond pattern. The custom light fixtures, contrasting dark blue brick tile and modern black and white wall paper, elegantly embraces the back wall bar seating area. From dark blues, black and white color schemes to wood and brass details prevails throughout the space. The floor applications are carefully intended to create a smooth transitions within spaces. The lobby area opts for patterned tile in addition to wooden floors that continue to the café seating area. On the other side, concrete floors are the option for the highest traffic areas for the bar and food venues. The common area feels very spacious and luminous thanks to the natural lighting and high ceilings.
We all ordered different meal choices from the varied entree options in the food court. We were impressed by the great service, food presentation and cleanliness. There is no doubt to the naked eye the space is focused on customer’s needs. The space provides power outlets, sharing tables, floor service, water station, compostable utensils, beautiful designed restrooms, comfortable seating, events, and family activities.
What is really going on in the kitchen and cooking areas that are not visible to customers? We were able to talk to Joe Ritchie, Fareground General Manager, who explained to us more about operations.
Restaurants share a common kitchen for scratch made products, trash disposal, and scullery. Each venue has front line washing station for their general prep but individual non-compostable cutlery is collected by ELM floor staff and washed by restaurants. It is crucial that restaurants are willing to accommodate shared cooking and prep stations. Restaurants must modify and carefully select the best option within their menus in order to avoid offering the same meal option in another venue. ELM Restaurant Group employees alternate from bar tenders and servers since all of their staff are trained and certified to serve food and beverages.
Fareground is a great example of how Austin businesses are evolving to keep up with customer needs and market changes. We witnessing how important the design role plays on client and staff needs in order to successfully serve communities and keep inviting families to be part of this interaction between consumers and public spaces.