Austin Bakery Word of Mouth Closes in Downtown Austin
Austin food company Word of Mouth closed its only remaining bakery in early March. The bakery’s last day at 917 West 12th Street in downtown’s West End neighborhood was March 3.
Owner Leslie Moore announced the closing in an Instagram post, where he notes that for the foreseeable future, takeout and dine-in orders will still be fulfilled in the bakery’s kitchen and production office at 5002 Burleson Road. Last September, he closed the bakery’s South First location in Bouldin Creek because, at the time, “it was difficult to manage two bakeries with all the understaffing,” he said. Now, Moore tells Eater that he’s selling the catering business and that the unnamed buyers (soon to be announced) “didn’t want this little gem,” referring to the bakery.
A new, self-described Middle Eastern restaurant is coming to the West 12th Street space, San Marcos Halal Project. The menu includes halal meats such as gyros, shawarma and kebabs on rice and wraps; as well as sides and baklava.
In the meantime, Moore says he will continue to operate a wedding venue in Kyle, The Winfield Inn, but these moves are ultimately a step toward retirement.
Moore’s service industry history is long, dating back to the late 1960s. According to a profile published by the Statesman in 2020, his first hospitality job was at a country club in his hometown of Corpus Christi. Christi, when the separation was legally enforced. While studying engineering at the University of Texas at Austin in the early 1970s, he worked at the private club and event space Headliners Club. Eventually, he would land a job at the Tarry House, a private club in West Austin that often hosted events at the LBJ Library and the Governor’s Mansion. This was also when he and Victoria Hentrich (who managed Tarry House) would travel across the United States, studying party culture in places like South Beach and Los Angeles. The man from a small town steeped in Jim Crow laws opened his eyes to how the rich partied, and he brought that knowledge home with him to Texas. This proved fruitful when new money began pouring into Austin in the 1980s, however, when the savings and loan crash of 1987 hit and pockets tightened, Hentrich and Moore’s working relationship ended.
Moore started his own catering company called Parties Parties, where he catered primarily to lawyers, a group that seemed impervious to the economic downturn. That’s when he met another Austin caterer, Rebecca Wallace Ford, who had been churning out Word of Mouth out of her home since the 1980s. The two hit it off so well that they merged their companies. By 2001, the two sold Word of Mouth, but Moore bought it in 2008 and expanded with a public-facing bakery in 2015.
Moore also briefly operated the small Rainey Street patio restaurant L’Estelle House for seven months before restaurants began closing due to COVID-19. He left voluntarily as the First South space presented a better opportunity at the time. South Congress Japanese restaurant Lucky Robot is opening a new wood-and-raw bar, NomAde, at the address sometime this year.
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