Tavern on Main

Eatery adapts menu to suit customer base

If Reno Lanzillotti and Julie Renfro, co-owners of Tavern on Main in Buda, needed a lesson in business, their newest restaurant has provided them with plenty of learning opportunities.

Tavern on Main celebrated its first anniversary June 15 and has become a popular late-night spot in Buda, normally serving food and drinks until 11 p.m. or midnight, Renfro said.

Things haven't always gone so smoothly for the restaurateur duo.

Customers flocked to Tavern on Main's grand opening in 2012 and were allowed to order anything they wanted off the menu free of charge.

"They ordered everything on the menu, but two weeks following that, they didn't order anything off the menu," Lanzillotti said.

The duo decided their menu was in need of a makeover. Things such as the shrimp cocktail with glass noodles and the avocado-and-orange salad were struck from the menu entirely. The bacon-wrapped bratwurst, an item that never seemed to tempt diners, lost its original "fancy" name and was rechristened the Pig on a Stick, Lanzillotti said. It has become one of their signature dishes.

Lanzillotti and Renfro's other Buda restaurant, Nonna Gina's, opened in 2008.

Lanzillotti, whose culinary credentials include stints running his own pasta shop, acting as sous chef at Austin's Mezzaluna Italian restaurant and launching the kitchen at the Hyatt Lost Pines in Cedar Creek, said he wanted Tavern on Main to stick out from the day it opened.

"I didn't want to be another burger joint," Lanzillotti said. "You can get a burger anywhere. I thought the customer base would be tired of it and they would need something refreshing, but they wanted burgers. They wanted cheeseburgers."

Lanzillotti's answer to his customers' desire for the classic dish goes beyond the traditional beef patty on a bun. Customers can order their burger with a range of customizable options such as bacon, four kinds of cheese and a variety of sauces. When Lanzillotti makes himself a burger, he prepares it with the restaurant's hormone-free beef, a bun courtesy of Kyle-based The New World Bakery and a slice of porchetta—pork belly stuffed with tenderloin and cooked crispy—to top it off.

Lanzillotti and Renfro have been able to watch the city's burgeoning nightlife from their two restaurants on Main Street.

"Our vision was to give people an adult setting to come and eat dinner," Renfro said. "Everyone has very quickly said, 'Yes, that's exactly what we needed, thank you very much, and I'll bring my friends.'"

The pair recently added live music and a beer garden to the restaurant's offerings. Lanzillotti said they are not content to stop there.

"This is basically a dream come true, having your own place, cooking whatever I've always wanted to cook," Lanzillotti said. "That's what this came out to be. This is not where we want to stop. We want more."

Tavern on Main, 116 Main St., Buda, 512-295-1021, Hours of operation: Tue.–Sat. 11 a.m.–midnight, Sun. 4–10 p.m. Closed Mon.