Clay Pit celebrates 20 years downtown this December



Image description
Image description
Image description
Image description
Between the grounds of the Texas state Capitol and The University of Texas at Austin campus, there is a building almost as old as the city itself.

Built in the 1850s the Bertram Building has housed contemporary Indian restaurant Clay Pit for 20 years.

“[The building] has been a part of such a great history of American culture, especially the transitioning from the old world to the new world,” owner Balinder Singh said.

Fusing old and new is core to the restaurant’s ethos.

“We wanted to take Indian food out of that strip-mall, mom and pop kind of concept ... present our food to mainstream Americans,” Singh said.

To counteract misconceptions some people have about Indian food, Singh said the restaurant focuses on modernizing traditional dishes, such as a vegetarian take on curry; prioritizing savory flavors over spice; and offering unique beverage pairings, from an extensive wine list to house-infused vodkas.

“For us it’s pretty critical that people are exploring,” Singh said, not “hung up on chicken tikka masala.”

Singh studied hotel management in Switzerland before moving to the U.S. to work as a chef. He joined Clay Pit in 1999, shortly after it opened.

Since then the number of Indian restaurants in Central Austin has grown from a handful to dozens.

“They’re opting to dine with us. It is our moral obligation to pamper them and to make them feel good,” he said of Clay Pit’s customers.

As the restaurant has expanded the palate of some of its customers, so, too, has the local community affected the restaurant’s growth.

A switch to compostable straws has been well-received, Singh said, and he is always working to improve packaging options and wait times for customers who may only know Clay Pit from food-delivery services, which have grown to be a larger part of the restaurant’s business in recent years.

“There’s no better line of work I would choose than this one, where your community is there to help you out,” he said. “I love it.”
By Emma Freer

Emma Freer began covering Central Austin for Community Impact Newspaper in 2017. Her beat includes the Travis County Commissioners Court and local business news. She graduated from Columbia Journalism School in 2017.


A Capital Metro employee who worked as a bus mechanic has died after testing positive for the coronavirus. (Jack Flagler/Community Impact Newspaper)
Capital Metro employee who tested positive for coronavirus dies

The individual worked as a bus mechanic. Capital Metro announced April 2 he and three other employees tested positive for the virus.

The Central Texas Food Bank served 1,515 households free food at an event April 4 at Nelson Field in northeast Austin. (Courtesy Central Texas Food Bank)
Central Texas Food Bank serves free food to 1,515 households April 4

Each household received two boxes with about 24 pounds of food each.

(Brian Perdue/Community Impact Newspaper)
Thousands of construction workers this week returned to work in Austin. What are developers doing to ensure safe work sites?

After most residential construction briefly shut down across the city of Austin, home building crews now have the opportunity to return the work.

(Graphic illustration courtesy Jay Jones/Community Impact Newspaper)
‘We’ve got this’: Central Texas librarians step up to help their communities amid coronavirus pandemic

The example in Bee Cave appears to be just one of many stories relating how, amid the COVID-19 crisis, librarians are helping their communities throughout the Greater Austin area.

Local restaurant Emmer & Rye is offering groceries at its Rainey Street location. (Courtesy Emmer & Rye)
Local business efforts to help the community: restaurants open grocery markets; Service Dogs, Inc. donates 18,000 pounds of dog food

Malibu Poke is donating meals to the Central Texas Food Bank, and Santa Rita Cantina is offering customers a chance to purchase meals for employees at Seton Medical Center.

Economic relief options for small business owners include the Small Business Administration's Economic Injury Disaster Loan. (Community Impact Newspaper Staff)
Has your Austin-area small business been affected by the coronavirus? Here are resources you can access.

The U.S. Small Business Administration is offering a short-term loan program intended to help cover payroll and a separate, long-term loan program intended to help business owners stay afloat.

A recent string of incidents where Zoom meetings have been “hacked” has put the future viability of teleconferencing security in doubt. (Courtesy Pixabay)
String of racist attacks via videoconferencing software leads to heightened security concerns

A recent string of incidents where Zoom meetings have been “hacked” has put the future viability of teleconferencing security in doubt.

Austin and Travis County's orders went into place March 25 and require residents to stay home for everything but essential travel. (Christopher Neely/Community Impact Newspaper)
5 recent coronavirus stories from the Austin area readers should know

Read local updates on the coronavirus pandemic.

Austin FC and Upper Ninety on March 30 released a guide of resources for local families. (Iain Oldman/Community Impact Newspaper)
Austin FC, Upper Ninety compile bilingual resource guide for Austin families

Austin FC and Upper Ninety on March 30 released a guide of resources for local families.

Friday's digital telethon will help Austin metro residents through nonprofits during the coronavirus pandemic.
Donations to All Together ATX will help local residents through grants to nonprofits

Friday's digital telethon seeks donations to help the community

Power lines
DATA: Austin’s residential electricity usage up more than 30% since beginning of March

The total residential electricity usage has increased by more than 31.88% across Austin Energy’s service area since the last week of February, the new numbers show.