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.
- Kevin and Rosie Truong, formerly of Fil N' Viet food trailer at Camp East, say they'll draw on their own family histories and culinary techniques derived from Asian cultures.
- Fil N' Viet closed its Camp East trailer in September.
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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