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Mesa Grill: Trish's unique dishes

New location, hearty menu additions

Posted: May 2, 2012 - 12:02am
Trish Austin operates The Mesa Grill at its new location on Marine Way on Tuesday. Austin operated at the corner of Seward and Front Street for seven years. She is open from 10 A.M. to 2 P.M. for lunch everyday through the cruise ship season.  Michael Penn / Juneau Empire
Michael Penn / Juneau Empire
Trish Austin operates The Mesa Grill at its new location on Marine Way on Tuesday. Austin operated at the corner of Seward and Front Street for seven years. She is open from 10 A.M. to 2 P.M. for lunch everyday through the cruise ship season.

Mesa Grill, downtown Juneau’s longtime street vendor of choice for steaming sausages and jalapeño pepper buffalo burgers, has relocated to Marine Way.

Trish Ausdin likes to make her food spicy. The Mesa Grill owner and sole cook said she moved to the U.S. from India. She likes to add a touch of this heritage to her southwest fair, she said.

“I make kind of spicy food,” Ausdin said. She often adds chicken curry to her mostly southwestern menu.

Ausdin has owned businesses in Juneau for 20 years. She first owned an espresso stand, she said.

“From there I don’t know how I got into food,” Ausdin said. “So now I don’t do espresso.”

For three years she and her husband owned Corner Teriyaki before it burned down in the August 2004 fire at Seward and Front Street. The building was never rebuilt, but Trish was back within months, serving off a grill under an awning on the rubble of her former business.

Ausdin’s husband passed away the same year as the fire.

“That year was bad,” Ausdin said.

Ausdin said the city was concerned for her safety at the site and requested she obtain a more permanent building.

Ausdin purchased the Mesa Grill building for $10,000.

“The timing was right,” Ausdin said.

At one time the building was a Mailboxes Etc. store and then a jewelry shop, Ausdin said. She’s worked out of the building for eight years. Recently she moved from her spot at the corner of Front and Seward streets on Sealaska Corporation’s property. Sealaska Heritage Institute plans to begin construction on the site in 2013.

Her new location sits off Marine Drive, near the Red Dog Saloon. If you stop by, Ausdin recommends trying a fast, hearty lunch of polish kielbasa.

“My most poplar [burger] is the volcano burger,” Ausdin said. Aptly named, the burger has peppers mixed into the meat with jalapeño peppers on top.

Ausdin continues to grow her business. She is working on plans to start a simple outdoor grill, open Friday and Saturday evenings to attract Juneau’s late night revelers. She said she’d set up near the bars.

“Just put a grill out and an umbrella,” Ausdin said. She said she’ll run both spots alternatively by herself.

“I’ve done it for so many years,” Ausdin said.

Though Ausdin has kept her grill open in winters past, she said she plans to store the building seasonally starting in October.

“Because in the winter time there is no traffic here,” Ausdin said. She said she’ll be back again in April.

“If I do good this year,” Ausdin said.

Ausdin’s lease ended on March 31 at her previous location and she was in her new location by mid April. She said the move went without a hitch.

“My customers know I’m here now,” Trish said. “They come over, say ‘hi’ and then say ‘let me have a cheeseburger.’”

• Contact reporter Russell Stigall at 523-2276 or at russell.stigall@juneauempire.com.

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