While many new restaurants begin with a chef’s vision for their food, a different pathway was forged for Aaron Franklin’s new restaurant, Uptown Sports Club. The building itself was the inspiration that married Aaron’s passion for preserving old Austin with his family’s roots in Louisiana.
it started off about six years ago with a couple buddies and myself. we organically fell into this really cool building that had been vacant for 30 plus years. It was built in the mid to late 1800s, and just had dirt for a floor, no plumbing, barely a roof, four walls, an it was covered in graffiti. It was just this really cool building. Austin moves so quick, they’re so fast to tear stuff down and build something new and shiny, and it’s usually some developer from out of town that just wants another mixed-use building. so, we pulled together to save this neat old building. I really feel pretty passionate about saving old Austin and trying to preserve the old buildings. we just don’t need another big box, weird looking store.Aaron Franklin
The look and feel of the restaurant is what inspired the menu. It features traditional favorites like po’boys, gumbo, and a killer raw bar. They also have a kids menu, which as a father of two little ones is essential so I can cut back the number of times I say “just one more bite” while enjoying my food.
They also have a wide range of drinks, both alcoholic and non. If you’re looking to stay awake, they have a variety of caffeinated options. Aaron has spent many years staying awake cooking brisket, so I’d trust him to pull a good espresso shot more than experienced barista.
the menu was dictated by what I felt the building wanted. it feels real New Orleans and French brasserie, so we started thinking about Texas brasserie. The menu formed just by being the restaurant that I always want to eat at, it’s cold seafood, I love gumbo, I grew up eating that stuff with my grandparents. my grandfather’s from Louisiana and he taught me how to cook in a lot of ways.Aaron Franklin
A barbecue restaurant, like Franklin Barbecue, operates differently than most traditional restaurants. All the food is cooked slowly, so that means cooking all night long for lunch service the next day.
The barbecue is cut and served at the counter until there isn’t any food left. It’s different than a restaurant where everything is made when it’s ordered, and there are set hours of operation.
The change in format was a new opportunity for Aaron when developing the restaurant. He built an experienced team to complement his knowledge and ensure that the new venture would be successful.
It was a learning process and it still is. that factored a lot into the team that I built for that place, like the general manager, and the CDC. I picked them because they’re kind, honest, hard-working people, they’re friends, but also their skill sets offset my lack of skill. we all played a role really well together while we were figuring it out. there’s a lot of stuff I never really had to figure out how to do with Franklin because we are so lucky that we sell everything that we cook, and that’s amazing.Aaron Franklin
Uptown Sports Club is located at 900 E 11th Street in Austin, TX, so it’s just blocks away from Franklin Barbecue. The close proximity is helpful for people that want to check out both places, but also for Aaron to manage the two distinctly different restaurants.
I think it works out pretty good because Franklin Barbecue is busy when normal restaurants are lighter seasonally, so I think it might actually yin and Yang itself naturally. I’m in and out of both places constantly and that seems to be working out pretty good.Aaron Franklin
Carried over from barbecue culture and Aaron’s personality, Uptown Sports Club is a laid-back establishment where people can relax and be comfortable. There are no reservations, and seating is done on a first come, first serve basis. They also allow dogs on the patio.
Go check them for the great food, and to see a time capsule of old Austin. They’re open from 8 AM to 2 AM on Thursday through Saturday, and 8 AM to midnight on every other day except Tuesday when they’re closed.