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.

Austin Way - - CONTENTS DEPARTMENTS - By Stir­ling Kelso

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.

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