Nov 16, 2023 - Business

Aspiring chefs to make debut at Playground ATX

Playground ATX, a restaurant launchpad that will rotate culinary talent every six months, opened this week at 5001 Airport Blvd.

Why it matters: In a city facing endless restaurant closures of longtime favorites, hospitality veterans Sue Kim-Drohomyrecky and Katie Kim say the new concept will help aspiring restaurateurs test and refine their ideas before attempting to open their own brick-and-mortar spaces.

The big picture: The sisters launched Tykhe Group, the hospitality group behind Playground ATX, to provide operations management and branding while the tenant earns 20% of profits and a market-rate salary for the duration of the pop-up.

  • Chefs can use Playground ATX to learn the ins and outs of menu presentation, marketing, decor and finances.

What they're saying: "It's overwhelming on where to begin in this industry," Kim-Drohomyrecky said. "Austin's filled with bright culinary talent, which is why we want to streamline the process and provide a stable environment where food, community and innovation come together."

Details: East Meets Wings will be the first tenant in the 75-seat space, bringing bites inspired by Indonesian, Indian, Thai, Sichuan and Japanese cuisine.

Reality check: In a city like Austin, costs range from $1 million to $10 million to open a restaurant, and food costs are 25% higher than pre-pandemic levels, according to Kelsey Erickson Streufert, spokesperson for the Texas Restaurant Association.

  • "While Texas is the best state to operate a restaurant, there's no doubt it's a tough industry in good times and our current economic environment is far from ideal," Erickson Streufert told Axios.
  • Across the country, the National Restaurant Association estimates a 30% failure rate in the industry.

Of note: If Tykhe Group believes a tenant can be launched as a standalone concept, the hospitality group will enter into a joint venture and secure locations and funding for the restaurant.

What's next: You can try East Meets Wings through April 2024 before a new tenant takes over the space.

If you go: Playground ATX's hours are 11am-9pm Sunday, Wednesday and Thursday and 11am-10pm Friday and Saturday.


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