Back to the Future with the Frisco Shop
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By the most conservative estimate, my dear departed father ate at the Nighthawk, near the UT campus 18,237 times in his eighty years on this earth. That’s lunch every working day for 35 years (he was a journalism prof), followed by a snack in the middle of the afternoon. The waitresses would spot him coming a half-block away and have his apple pie and coffee waiting (he always sat at the counter). The Sharpes were a Nighthawk family, and I was semi-delirious when I moved to within three blocks of the Frisco Shop on Burnet Road in 1992 (the Frisco was the last gasp of the once-extensive Austin restaurant dynasty). Just like Daddy, I had Frisco burgers and “steakettes” there a lot–not every day, but a couple of times a month, along with all the other hoary regulars and the few computer nerds and impecunious tattooed types who thought the Shop’s tatty wallpaper and eccentric servers were cool. So when the Frisco closed down a couple of months ago, in preparation to moving to a new site up the street, all of us curmudgeonly Austinites grumbled, “It ain’t going to be the same.” How wrong I was. The Frisco is open again and it’s just like it was, only better. On opening night, you couldn’t even see the front door, the queue was so long. Inside, the line crept along (kind of like most of the customers, quite a few on walkers, cupping their hands behind their ears, shouting “What!!!???” to each other). Most of the former waitresses are still there, including the one with the starched blond bangs. The food is really just like it was–I had a steakette, and they overcooked it, just like always, and I had to send it back, just like always. (It was fine the second time around). This morning I went in for biscuits and gravy, which were great — just be sure you request a fresh biscuit, because they tried to pawn off an overdone one thinking I wouldn’t notice that it was half as hard as a rock underneath the gravy. Ha. The place is bigger, thank goodness, quite slick, actually, with dark paneling and a kind of vaulted ceiling and pendant lights that remind me of the old Nighthawk on South Congress. But it doesn’t feel too “done.” In fact, it feels like going home, and that’s a good thing.