It can all be a bit much, right? Between classes, clubs, jobs, and having $3 despite taking a double shift on Saturday and then what -- we’re expected to drive in this Austin traffic? Being a student in Austin is not always alright, alright, alright. Students need a break, a reprieve, a sanctuary outfitted with some outdoor aesthetics, indie jams and delicious, college budget-friendly eats.
Story by Chandler Gibson
Photos by Caitlin Rounds
Paperboy, one of Austin’s local gems and a popular food truck, occupies two locations, one at 1112 E. 12th St., and a newer spot at 1105 S. Lamar Blvd. In their original 11th St. location sits a fenced-off construction site as the future of their first brick-and-mortar restaurant, slated to open this fall.
This success didn’t happen overnight, owner Ryan Harms says, noting the hard work and planning done to reach their ultimate vision. “We looked at the breakfast scene in Austin and thought there was space for [Paper Boy]. Something that was familiar but also done in a really thoughtful way, in a unique way using local products and seasonal ingredients and things like that.” Harms says.
Harms, a Baylor entrepreneurship alumnus, worked in the restaurant and hospitality management industry in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex before coming to Austin. After working in restaurant management, his goal was always to transition into owning his own restaurant.
“There seem to not be a whole ton of [breakfast] players in the market, and that was part of it, but ultimately we just thought that Austin could use a fun, cool breakfast spot. Some of it will be familiar to people, some of the things will be different,” Harms says. “For example, one of the things behind the messy breakfast sandwich--it’s not that nobody does it--but we thought we could do it at a really high level and have a lot of fun with it.”
A native of San Antonio, Harms incorporated his childhood Tex-Mex and Mexican influences into the menu, with items like the chilaquiles. Other options, like the Texas hash with pork shoulder and a pecan mole or the wagyu steak-and-egg sandwich with mushroom relish and chimichurri, highlight elements from both Mexican and New American cuisine. Not everything on the menu, according to Harms, is a heavy, hyper-indulgent offering.
“When we’re building the menu, we’re looking for a balance so it’s not too rich or over-the-top,” Harms says. “We just think about what we like to eat… and let’s execute those at the highest level possible. We have a BLT on the menu -- it’s got homemade bread, a wonderful sauce, and really high quality bacon.”
This commitment to quality via local sourcing and house-made products is a considerable reason Paperboy is excited about the transition to a brick-and-mortar. Everything can be made in-house, and they will eventually be able to centralize the process in the restaurant.
“In the brick-and-mortar, we’ll make our own sausage. Everything will be made in-house,” Harms says. “... Everything’s done from scratch here, but we’ll take it to the next level. We’ll have a herb garden on the roof, so we’ll grow our own herbs … It’s actually cost-effective to grow and use things and not buy them every time you need them.”
The goal was always to open the restaurant, and while Harms explained that it was more cost-effective to open a smaller version of the ultimate plan, they were always working towards the expansion to a brick-and-mortar. Paperboy the Food Truck was always planned to be the thesis statement to Paperboy the Restaurant’s story.