- Chioco Design
- IE2 Construction
- Laura Harms
Completed in 2020, Paperboy is a two-story, freestanding restaurant with a shaded rooftop deck, abundant greenery, and textural terracotta block cladding. The location was a vacant lot for over 30 years until it was reactivated in 2015 by Paperboy’s original food truck, which evolved into this destination dining spot.
Paperboy occupies a prominent position in the center of bustling East Austin, an established neighborhood that dates to the mid-19th century and is now known for its art scene, creative offices, eclectic dining, and nightlife. One of many new infill developments along East 11th Street, the restaurant is notable for how successfully it merges into the fabric of the existing neighborhood.
Paperboy was born out of the thriving Austin food truck scene, which offers chef entrepreneurs an opportunity to establish themselves with minimal overhead costs. After opening in 2015, Paperboy’s locally sourced breakfast fare food truck was a runaway success. Located on the same site where its owners once served diners seated at wooden picnic tables, the restaurant’s brick-and-mortar iteration was inspired by its spartan al fresco origins. Every space keeps diners connected to the street thanks to the designer’s clever use of glazing, outdoor spaces, and visually permeable materials. By maximizing the building’s street presence, the architects created a structure that engages and encourages pedestrian traffic. The restaurant’s modest scale maintains the essential character of the streetscape, while its striking modern design avoids any faux historicity.
Both inside and out, Paperboy utilizes custom terracotta tile and block—a contextually appropriate choice since the historic neighborhood is almost exclusively masonry (Austin common brick for the oldest buildings and concrete block for the mid-century construction). Sourced from a brick and tile company which has been in business for over a century, the terracotta offers a signature richness in color and texture that gives Paperboy an understated flourish. The screen of terracotta breezeblocks that encloses a ground-floor patio extends up to become the guardrail of the rooftop deck. A thin, cantilevered steel awning protects the entrance and pass-through window—a throwback to Paperboy’s food truck origins.
Inside, diners can view the kitchen across a terrazzo bar parallel to a white oak banquette running the length of the dining room. The slatted wood ceiling terminates at a curved wall of terracotta tile that wraps a large leather booth. Wood-framed windows look out to the underside of the perforated steel stair and planter, offering a layered view to the street beyond. Planters filled with fragrant herbs, vines, and native plants line the entry seating, ground-level courtyard, and rooftop terrace. Over time, the ivy and trees will grow together through and around the breezeblock and stucco walls, creating another layer to the architectural language and making the building feel even more firmly rooted in its site. – Sadi Brewton, AIA
Chase Daniel (1-8)