Mel Johnson Professional Employer Consultant and Contributor on the Price of Business on Business Talk 1110 AM KTEK recently interviewed Co-Owner C.K. Chin of Swift’s Attic. C.K. opened Swift’s Attic in downtown Austin above the iconic Elephant Room in 2012.
What’s been one of your hurdles to your first year of business?
One of our major hurdles has been trying to effectively use our space. We’re a small restaurant and in the beginning as we were learning about how our restaurant operates, the learning curve towards effectively seating and using the space took a little while. Our first year I was only comfortable taking about 100 reservations an evening just to make sure we were able to properly provide service to them, while now I routinely take 200+
Being located downtown, what does that mean for you?
We are at the mercy of the hundreds of events that want to use the ever popular Congress Ave. This includes but is not limited to: parades, races of all types from vehicles to foot, protests or demonstrations, block parties, etc. Each of these has varying effects on us depending on the demographic the event itself draws. Some are a great benefit that brings a lot of diners, while others limit pedestrian access and deter those not living downtown from coming down to deal with the hassle. The other major difference is that we are still very weekend driven. On any given week, we do 50% of our sales on Fri/Sat.
What items have become the most popular on your menu?
The interesting part of a rotating menu is that once a dish gets popular, it tends to get rotated out due to seasonality. The three that have been with us since the beginning are the Pop Rock Edamame (Wok charred edamame with chili oil and a sea salt blend with poprocks) our Braised Pork Cheeks (Pork cheeks braised in white wine and raisins until ridiculously tender, served with housemade fig preserve and Dijon mustard with grilled sourdough) and our Popcorn and a Movie Dessert (housemade candy bars with dulce de leche sauce, rootbeer gel, salted buttered popcorn gelato and caramel corn)
So, what’s next for you?
We are currently working on our new concept called: WU CHOW which is an authentic Chinese restaurant located only a few blocks away downtown. We felt that there is room in the downtown market for a little higher end and traditional Chinese faire (I’m Chinese) so we start construction on that next month hoping to open by the end of 2014. There are talks about bringing Swift’s to other markets (i.e. Houston or Dallas)
What do you want your guests to feel like when they come into Swift’s Attic?
In a word: WELCOME. I want them to feel special like they belong there regardless of their background and demographic. The best description a guest told me once was: “I felt like I was an amazing dinner party put on my one of my friends at their swanky loft.” I want guests to feel at home.
Visit Swift’s Attic on 315 Congress (@ 3rd Street) Ste 200 Austin TX 78701
Or visit them online at www.swiftsattic.com