Adaptive reuse of a midcentury post office yields a new hot spot in Austin, Texas.
Tiny Grocer interior, counter with stools


When it comes to adaptive reuse, old post offices deliver both upsides and downsides. Among the positives are that post offices tend to be built near the centers of the communities they serve, making them ideal for new uses as community hubs. Among the negatives are the presence of loading docks, once required for sending and receiving mail, that can create obstructions in repurposed buildings.

In the Hyde Park neighborhood of Austin, Texas, these elements factored into the triumphant conversion of a long-abandoned, 1967-era property into a beloved small grocery and a bustling French restaurant.

Steph Steele, owner and operator of Austin’s Tiny Grocer, was searching for a second store location and decided to lease space from the building’s new owner, State Street Properties, to occupy a third of the former post office.

She turned to local architectural firm Side Angle Side, which specializes in single-family, high-end custom homes, to envision the transformation. Steele had come to know and respect founders Annie-Laurie Grabiel and Arthur Furman when they designed the renovation of her Austin ranch-style home.

“It’s sad to see these old midcentury buildings fall into disuse. If we can, we would like to keep the buildings and give them new uses.” Arthur Furman, architect, Side Angle Side

Together, the project team took a “less is more” approach, enabling original features, such as the existing ceiling and concrete floors, to shine through. Doors, windows, and other design elements were chosen to complement the building’s midcentury appearance.


The Details

The businesses consume 3,500 square feet combined, with an additional 1,500-square-foot courtyard.

The project was partially funded through community fundraising of $2.4 million that went toward construction, equipment, and preopening labor.

A loading dock was transformed into an indoor dining room.

A driveway became a tree-and-greenery-lined patio and wine garden.

Builders: Archive Properties and Thought Barn Studio (shell)

Engineers: Creative Engineering (structural) and ATS Engineers (MEP)

Landscape architect: Wild Heart Dirt


Local businesses Tiny Grocer and Bureau de Poste, a French bistro helmed by celebrity chef Jo Chan, opened their doors in October in a formerly blighted building in the charming Hyde Park enclave.

Tiny Grocer storefront


Tiny Grocer patio seating


Tiny Grocer interior green shelves


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