Eatery gives Spicewood an Australian twist
Paul Willsher, owner of Down Under Deli, located at 21209 W. Hwy. 71 in Spicewood, has always done a little bit of everything. Since moving to the Austin area after growing up in Sydney, Australia, Willsher has owned a landscaping business, importing and exporting vintage motorcycles, and owns and operates a local sawmill.
"I had a burger and bait shop over in Sydney, so when the land next to my landscaping business became available, I thought it would be a good place for a restaurant," Willsher said. "There aren't a lot of great places to eat way out here, it was all fried food, so I built one."
Willsher did exactly that, using his sawmill to cut lumber and construct the 4,000-square-foot bar and deli with the help of a few friends.
"It took us about 18 months to build, and then, at the end, we had a truss party [where the trusses for the building are hung] with music and food. Everyone had a great time," Willsher said.
Along with building the structure for the bar and deli, Willsher also used one longwood pine tree to build all of the tables at the establishment.
"I ran into a guy who had two big trees on his truck that were knocked down from Hurricane Ike in Houston," Willsher said. "He didn't have any way of using them, so I offered to cut both logs for free in exchange for keeping one log."
The tables aren't the only furniture with a history at Down Under Deli. The custom-made bar was cut from five different trees that wound together, Willsher said.
Down Under Deli is split into distinct sections, with the bar and deli separated by a set of double doors. Willsher said the deli makes pizza dough from scratch along with a variety of meat pies, a dish that is very popular in Australia.
The deli also offers burgers, sandwiches, pizzas and appetizers on top of entrees served after 5 p.m.
"We have been thinking about adding a delivery service, but the details are still in the works," Willsher said.
Along with adding a delivery service, Willsher would also like to add a paved parking lot for both the deli and the surrounding strip mall, which he also owns.
"I would like to pave the area, but that is a lot of land, and it can get pretty expensive," Willsher said. "We will see what happens."
A specialty of the deli is Australian meat pies. Similar to pot pies, these pies are filled with different meats and vegetables and covered in a flaky pastry. The Cottage Pie, a favorite at Down Under Deli according to Willsher, is ground beef in a flaky crust that is topped with mashed potatoes, tomatoes and cheese, and finished with brown gravy. $7.50
Owner Paul Willsher deals in importing and exporting classic motorcycles, but he also collects them. The bar side of the eatery is filled with different antique motorcycles, including a custom-built "Aussie" bike that sits atop the roof of the building.
"If it has a motor in it, I'm interested," Willsher said.
The bar also features old boat engines, models of ships and even an old barber chair. Willsher said he likes to collect antiques and share them with his customers.
Willsher has always had an appreciation for music.
"I have always liked the sound of live music," Willsher said. "My brother is a professional musician in Australia."
His love of music is why the eatery hosts an open mic night every Thursday from 8–10 p.m. along with live music on weekends.
Down Under Deli, 21209 W. Hwy. 71, Spicewood, 512-264-8000, www.downunderdeli.com
- Tue.–Wed. 11 a.m.–8 p.m.,
- Thu.–Sat. 11 a.m.–9 p.m.