A veteran restaurateur took over The Scarlet Rabbit property in downtown Round Rock after it closed at 3 p.m. today. A Mother’s Day brunch was the last event and meals served at the "Alice in Wonderland"-themed restaurant that opened in July 2014.
Ryan Sabrsula, with 10 years of restaurant and bar experience in Austin, said he will transform the building at 410 W. Main St. with $250,000 in updates. It will become Finley’s, named for Sabrsula’s daughter.
“We’re going to build something fun,” said Sabrsula, who lives in Pflugerville with his wife and two children. “We’re going to make it better. I want to relax it, keep it a more casual hangout.”
The plans, according to Sabrsula and his architect, will open the 1940s bungalow-style building up on the inside, raise ceilings and utilize the sprawling patio space with a 200-year-old oak tree in the middle of it.
Chef Rich Taylor, also with 10 years experience, will stay on to direct and lead the culinary changes the restaurant will make. Many of the serving staff will return when Finley’s opens.
Taylor said the goal for food will be the fewest ingredients with maximum flavor, along with generous and sharable portions of appetizers and entrees.
“We will continue with all housemade, locally sourced food whenever possible,” Taylor said.
Weekend brunches will receive a heightened focus, while the bar will include 10 to 12 beers on tap with a full selection of premium and craft drinks.
“I am very excited to be staying focused on the food part of it,” Taylor said. “With Ryan, I think we will give Round Rock a great environment and great food.”
Sarbsula said pork belly sandwiches and smoked gouda macaroni and cheese with brisket will be part of a changed menu.
“We will have great food, a special happy hour menu and it will be reasonably priced,” Sabrsula said. “We are going to change everything. This will be a fun place after work or on Friday afternoon. It will be a gathering place, not just for special events.”
Taylor, who came out of a brief retirement to open The Scarlet Rabbit, said he fulfilled a dream as a chef to own his own restaurant.
“I’m glad I did it,” Taylor said. “I’ll take the good we learned, and with Ryan’s experience, this will be really exciting.”
Sabrsula said he is working on plans with the state and city and hopes to begin construction soon.
“We’ve got a lot of work to do,” Sabrsula said. “We can’t wait to open as soon as we can. We will have a good team of people and our plan is to be here for 20 years and beyond.”
Updates will be available at The Scarlet Rabbit Facebook page, which will transition to Finley’s.