How these Austin architects transformed a 1960s post office into a French restaurant

We spoke with Arthur Furman and Annie-Laurie Grabiel from Side Angle Side about their approach to transforming the Hyde Park space.

The Tiny Grocer building, with trees behind it. The building reads "Tiny Grocer" in red lettering on off-white walls, and has a large porch cover with slats of warm wood flaring out to the side. To the right, you can see a patio with garden beds and shade coverings.

Bureau de Poste lies within the second location of Tiny Grocer, a local food market run by Austin entrepreneur Steph Steele.

Photo via Likeness Studio

The architects at Austin-based Side Angle Side faced a challenge: take a former, 1960s-era Hyde Park post office and turn it into a restaurant space worthy of a “Top Chef” contestant.

Arthur Furman and Annie-Laurie Grabiel, founding partners of Austin-based firm Side Angle Side, transformed the mid-century building into Bureau de Poste, a French comfort food restaurant led by chef Jo Chan inside Tiny Grocer’s second location.

Although the building had its quirks, “for us, it was a slam dunk,” Furman said.

The interior of Tiny Grocer. Facing the store, in the foreground you see a bar area with black-and-wood stools arranged in front of a bar lined with warm, orange tile. In the background, you see rows of shelves with food on them, and a person making coffee at a coffee maker. To the left side is a deli station with cheeses and meats.

Tiny Grocer’s second location in Hyde Park opened last fall.

Photo via Likeness Studio

The interior of the post office had a minimalism to it that was easy “to breathe new life into,” Grabiel said. The team decided to keep several of the structure’s original elements, including exposed roof joints and the original floor slab.

“We just decided that would be part of the story and the history of the building,” Grabiel said.

Grabiel and Furman did add some new elements, of course. Visitors will notice new fixtures, like a corner banquette and warm, terracotta tiles. One of the most prominent changes, however, is outside the building itself, in the loading dock-turned patio.

Making the former loading dock — which prominently faced the street on the old post office’s corner lot — was one of the duo’s biggest challenges. To transform the “unsightly facade,” the two built out shade structures, a bathroom, and garden-like beds.

The Bureau de Poste patio, featuring white tables and white chairs, greenery-filled garden beds, trees, and a wooden shade structure.

Side Angle Side transformed this post office’s loading dock into a patio space.

Photo via Mackenzie Smith Kelly

“We wanted that to be a new hub for the community. to make sure that that was something that was transformed from a parking lot into a beautiful space,” Grabiel said.

Overall, the fact that the building used to be a post office may have been a huge asset, the team believes — after all, post offices are typically in the center of a neighborhood, designed to be easily accessed by the community. The structure’s simple style also helped.

“It’s a good reminder,” Furman said, “to make architecture that can have a new life in the future.”

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