Is it the vinyl crackling over the stereo? The cozy candle-lit tables? The perfectly unexpected location? Whatever it is, Justine’s Brasserie has an electric — magnetic even, vibe that draws an undeniably magical crowd night after night. To your left, maybe a wild mix of musicians and artists. To your right, perhaps Zooey Deschanel and a friend in hushed conversation. You take it all in with quiet contentment but can’t be distracted for long — the food, wine, and conversation in front of you are simply too good to be ignored. The bartender drops another record on the stereo — YES. It’s Exile on Mainstreet. You top off your glass of rosé and get comfortable. We’re going to be here a while.
Woven throughout the night are the staff at Justine’s, decidedly more stylish and mysterious than the patrons. You can’t help but notice them, and want to know them, as they laugh quietly together near the hostess stand. We finally worked up the nerve to talk to Alexandra Achieng Ligawa and Hannah-Rose Freedner about their friendship and what it’s really like to work at our favorite East Austin hideaway. Like all the employees there, Alex and Hannah each posses striking features and a strong individualistic sense of style. But these two lovely ladies share a special connection that goes beyond just work. We found that on their days off, they often spend time enjoying gallery openings, performances, and a glass or two of wine together at (where else?) Justine’s.
photographed by jessica attie