Waterloo Ice House Bringing its Austin Restaurants Back to Core Leadership Team

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After experimenting for a few years with “non-company owned” satellite locations, Waterloo Ice House is bringing their brand back to its core team with the closing of two Waterloo-named restaurant / bar locations in Avery Ranch & The Galleria at Bee Caves. This is the start of several plans for Waterloo’s future.

Waterloo Ice House Southpark Location

Waterloo Ice House Southpark, one of five Austin locations.

We have learned a lot from our work with stores that were not operated by our team. It is nearly impossible to keep the vision of a brand on track when you have split leadership between the core team and an outside owner.

Waterloo Ice House opened its first location in 1976 on Congress Avenue in downtown Austin, Texas. In the 37 years since opening its doors, Waterloo has grown from a hamburger & music joint to an iconic and long-standing Austin establishment. Now the owners and managers who have put their lives into the Waterloo brand for the last 30+ years have some big plans to bring the bar & restaurant chain back to its roots.

The biggest of recent changes made by President Ted Karam and his team was the decision to pull back the licensing to non-company owned or operated stores, including Waterloo Ice Houses in Avery Ranch and “The Galleria” area off of Bee Caves in West Austin, which have each been run––up until now––under different owner-operators.

While closing locations may seem like trouble for other brands, Karam is confident that the way forward for Waterloo lies in “company-owned” expansion.

“We have learned a lot from our work with stores that were not operated by our team,” Karam said. “It is nearly impossible to keep the vision of a brand on track when you have split leadership between the core team and an outside owner.”

And with a core team of six managers who have dedicated a comprised 85 years of service to the Waterloo brand, what more could you need? One manager, JoAnn Hudson, has worked with Waterloo for over 20 years. Their VP of Operations, Vince Ashwill, has been with Waterloo for 17 years.

“We are fortunate to have people who have been with us for so long and who share our same vision. Our simple mission statement is that we view our customers as souls, NOT dollars," Karam said.

In 1992, Karam sold his nine restaurants in the Houston area, called Cliff’s Hamburgers, to bring his family to Austin where he purchased a substantial stake in Waterloo. Since then, the brand has evolved into a Family Entertainment concept that pulls away from the traditional Ice House atmosphere. Some of the efforts made in a drive towards that goal include the addition of outdoor Playscapes, game rooms, multiple flatscreens buzzing on game days, and large outdoor table areas to sit and spend a day in the Texas sun. Future updates are in the works on a new menu layout with additional items, and a new website.

“Waterloo is a combination of several different concepts I've been involved with in the last 35 years, bringing together the best pieces from all of them,” Karam said. “I want fresh, made-to-order food with locally sourced ingredients whenever possible, served in an atmosphere of entertainment for the whole family.”

For residents in the Avery Ranch & Bee Caves areas of Austin who frequented those Waterloo Ice House locations, the Waterloo team invites you to try some of their other five locations: 9600 Escarpment Blvd, 6203 N Capital of Texas Hwy, 8600 Burnet Road, 38th and Medical Parkway, and Southpark Meadows.

Visit Waterloo Ice House on FACEBOOK & TWITTER.


ABOUT WATERLOO ICE HOUSE: The first Waterloo Ice House opened its doors on Congress Avenue in 1976. A casual neighborhood gathering spot serving hot, handmade meals and ice cold beer for an eclectic mix of Austin business people, students, artists and musicians, Waterloo embodies the Hill Country spirit of gathering with friends and family for eating, drinking, laughing and talking. With 5 Austin locations and over 30 years of serving great food, Waterloo Ice House is the place for family entertainment in Central Texas. Notable musicians such as Lyle Lovett credit their start to playing live shows at Waterloo.

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Jena Umstattd

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