Since opening Lamberts a decade ago, McGuire Moorman Hospitality has created a local restaurant empire.
It all started with Lamberts. A decade into their culinary reign, Larry McGuire and Tom Moorman remain dedicated to their vision.
It’s been 10 years since a team of ambitious 24-year-olds, working 80 to 90 hours a week, opened Lamberts in downtown Austin. The upscale-casual barbecue restaurant was a new concept for the city, one that was a big risk—and an even bigger success, one that would lead to a local restaurant empire for Larry McGuire and Tom Moorman. Today—14,856 lobster blinis, 25,696 plates of Singapore noodles and more than 2,439,155 freshly shucked oysters later—McGuire Moorman Hospitality boasts a portfolio of seven Austin restaurants, including Jeffrey’s, Perla’s and Elizabeth Street Café. They also now own and operate the 38-yearold By George boutique—“partly in the interest [of] preserving one of Austin’s iconic brands,” says McGuire—and their first cookbook, Elizabeth Street Cafe, hits shelves in October. Sipping a cappuccino (McGuire) and coffee, black (Moorman) at June’s All Day, their sophisticated neighborhood cafe on South Congress, the duo enjoy reminiscing about the early days as much as imagining a future that looks as bright and shiny as a fresh tin of caviar. Their secret in Austin’s tough market? “We’re not interested in opening restaurants,” says McGuire. “We build restaurants.” They’re also quick to credit their advisors, investors and growing team. “And we’re still constantly tweaking,” says Moorman, noting that something as simple as menu word choice can make or break a dish. Although their jobs have changed significantly since their mid-20s, they’re both still chefs at heart—refreshing in the age of celebrity cooks who are more likely to be holding shine control than a deboning knife. You might spot Moorman in the kitchen at Josephine House, training staff and coming up with fresh recipes. By the time a new MMH concept is ready to launch, McGuire is on to the next project, whether it’s the food and beverage program at Proper Hotel (opening in 2018) or the new Clark’s Oyster Bar in Aspen—their first restaurant outside of Austin. These two, along with their 500-plus employees, have been an integral part of the city’s culinary scene in a decade of unparalleled growth, one they helped catalyze. They’re still young, but just like Austin itself, they’re also all grown up.