C.K. Chin Swift's Attic, Wu Chow Austin, Hope Outdoor Gallery
Follow C.K. on Instagram
Check out Hope Outdoor Gallery and experience amazing art in Austin.
Experience the unique vibe and food at the popular Swift's Attic
=> Swift's Attic
Try out Wu Chow Austin's authentic, farm-fresh, modern Chinese food.
=> Wu Chow Austin
Like this episode?
Computer Generated Transcript
$ ~ Sys.out.println("computer generated transcripts are never completely accurate")
$ => "computer generated transcripts are never completely accurate"
[00:00:00] I told him I was like, my ultimate goal is to open my own, and then he just hit me and had this kind of moment where we really had this very almost difficult conversation. And I you know, I'm still so thankful for him for that that day, which it was a very difficult situation because I was just kind of nestling into operating this restaurant again, just back into my comfort zone of just operating this restaurant. And he was like, look, do you want to open your own place or not?
[00:00:26] Hey, you're listening to the Friends in Austin podcast. I'm your host, Justin Talent. And every week I bring you the stories of the people of Austin. Thank you for listening. So how long have you been in Austin? 17 years, 17
[00:00:48] years, 17 years now. Yeah, I got here in 2004 ish, if I remember correctly, 2004. Yeah.
[00:00:54] How did you get into the restaurant industry and what sort of static? Your first restaurant.
[00:00:59] Yeah. So I started in college. I mean my my rise to hospitality. I guess it was this very kind of convoluted. I went to Texas A&M to try to be a vet. You know, I kind of grew up in that. Family, which feels like you can be anything you want as long as the doctor, lawyer or, you know, engineer kind of that,
[00:01:21] I just didn't.
[00:01:23] And I was like, oh, you know what it's like, I love animals. Let's do that. I had I held that dream on probably since I was like seven or eight years old or something. And I just kind of ran with it, went all the way to Anum. You know, went to biomedical science as a major and went all the way through the first two years of that and then thought I was probably a good idea to. To go work out of that clinic to see if I even like it, you know, and I did and I kind of hated it, it wasn't what I imagined. I think if I had a a better guidance counselor, they might have probably pointed me more towards zoology or some sort of zookeeper or something like that, because, you know, I think it was it was very, you know, department phrases kind of. It was it was more of a service based kind of the at least a clinic that I was at. It felt like it was a lot of the people that were bringing in their animals. It was like they had these animals were better off if they were in the wild, like, you know what I mean? It was kind of like it wasn't, I don't know, was a little bit more of a it was a just different type of neighborhood. It just wasn't I don't know, it just didn't it didn't vibe with what I was thinking. I think it was it was a lot of, you know, shots and nutrition space, which is obviously kind of bread and butter of a lot of kind of domesticated animals and, you know, whatever. So from there, I was doing a lot of children's summer camps and part of the Big Brothers Big Sisters program and, you know, a lot of mentorship type of things like that, just because that's always been part of my, you know, my drive. I grew up kind of in the hood and from. So kind of a broken family growing up, and so I always had a soft spot for that kind of stuff and, you know, I thought I was like, well, let me, you know, maybe I have a knack for this. And and I kind of like kind of a jack of all trades, master of none type of thing, you know, like to to it. I think people in like we were talking before I was I could play a little guitar, not enough to do it professionally, but to a three to a third grader. It's pretty amazing, you know. And I was like, oh, I pick up the bass, I can play some bass. It's like maybe not to play in a band, but I played in a symphony or whatever it was. But to a third grader, it's like, man, is there anything, you know, like this this guy can do is kind of thing. And so I realized that I think that there's an opportunity for me to really kind of work with these kids and kind of be able to kind of meet them where they are. And so I changed my major to elementary education. I really loved it. And it was great. Got all the way to to the end to my student teaching. And then I think I got kind of caught up in the bureaucracy that is our kind of school system. It just was a little bit
[00:03:52] like dampens creativity a little
[00:03:53] bit. Well, I mean, it was, you know, so tied to it's just like you forget because you think that it's such a noble type of cause. Right. It's just such an honorable thing to say that, you know, you're teaching kids and teaching. And obviously we talk about them as, you know, essential and everything, and they are. But it's a job still. And every job you still have a boss and that boss has a boss. And maybe that maybe that didn't you know, maybe you didn't have a good boss, you know, and stuff like that. And so you kind of forget about that and and how the school system, it's funded and based off of testing and based off of demographics and all this other really. Kind of upsetting red tape that that allows you to kind of do that, I mean, I was I think back to my education system and I got kind of put into a. A program that was a little bit of an off, you know, kind of an advanced type of thing that they did, which is really fluid and kind of an experimental type of, you know, learning system. And it was a night and day difference who the teacher really was. You know, the curriculum was very fluid and allow kids to kind of explore where they wanted to explore. And and I think it made a huge difference in my life as opposed to the more systematic teaching to the test type of thing. And so from there, because I was working the entire time through, you know, to to help with what to pay for college, I, I needed a night job. And, you know, I didn't want to work at an overnight, like a convenience store or, you know, Wal-Mart or something like that. I was like, wow, I'm a big guy, you know, six, five or whatever it is. So I was like, I'll be a bouncer. I saw this place that was hiring bouncers and door guys and then pretty quickly realized I'm a pacifist and that's not, you know, breaking up fights. It's not the right thing to do. I remember it was kind of like a moment where I was, you know, working and, you know, having to just, you know, wipe off whatever off of my shirt after taking out the garbage and et cetera, et cetera. And then I look over and see the bartenders, you know, counting. Hundreds of dollars and I was like, wait, you get to talk with people and hang out and making this kind of weather what it's like, hey, can I do that kind of thing? And then they fell in love with bartending. And then from there it ran to the owner of the club, was doing some garage sale level fliers that I was like, yo, this is this is what I got. You can't you can't put this in a in an ad. And so I was like, what can I can I do this? Can I and I take over the logo and I can I run the can I do my own ads? And, you know, so I just did I was like, I do I just I want to be proud of where I work kind of thing. And so, you know, I got myself Photoshop, started to kind of started a design company and started doing ads for some of the local bars there, did our own ads and changed our logo and started a website and, you know, so and so forth and. I kind of fell in love with the industry that the networking of it was really fascinating because it was this watering hole, it quite literally is the imagery is the dewatering oasis out there in some Sahara Desert that has crocodiles, giraffes, rhinoceros and, you know, hippopotamus and elephants all drinking from it. It was like that from all walks of life. Everyone came in and it was at colorization. There's only one of a number of a lot of bars, but we're the only kind of nightclub that was there. And so for that vibe, for that kind of dance party, that type of stuff is the only one there. And, you know, everyone went there. And so pretty quickly, you kind of got to know everybody. And I just really enjoyed that aspect of it. Realized that people's guards are down when you're taking care of them and having shown them a good time and stuff like that. So then have these groups that maybe have no business being meshed together that all of a sudden are meshed together. And thus I really enjoyed it because it kind of broke me out of my little friend circle. It was like, no. Well, I have a friend here and I have this person here and I connected with this person there. And all of them was because they just
[00:07:45] took care of. Have you always been a really social guy, you know?
[00:07:50] I don't. I feel like I don't think I was I don't think I struggled with it. I still consider myself and anybody who knows me was probably, you know, rolling their eyes a little bit to consider a little bit of a. Like one of the what you would call an extroverted introvert, right
[00:08:08] now, they have a verb in between. Yeah, well, it's
[00:08:10] more of like a you know, I think my understanding of it and then, you know, any, say, psychiatrist out there or, you know, whoever, you know, I don't know which ist person would would probably define this as. I kind of have an understanding of the difference between the two being which kind of energizes you and what what drains you more so than what you're good at, you know? And so while I may be good at the. Working a room, talking, doing something like this. It's when I'm in a crowd, when I'm in a room, having to entertain a lot of people or, you know, in a party setting where you have to get to know a lot of people, it drains me. Doesn't mean I'm bad at it. I'm but I recharge by having a coffee with one person sitting by myself and reading or doing anything of those type of things. The quality time aspect of a one on one interaction is what revitalizes me while. You know, the restaurant business drains me, even though I might be talented at it, you know, I might be good at it, it's just that's kind of where it is. So that's kind of why I've kind of landed over the last 20 years of recognizing. It's like, no, I mean, I enjoy it. But what I really enjoy is, is some one on one interaction like and I treat that even at the restaurants where, you know, for whatever reason you join in on somebody vibration and you're like, oh, this person's real dope and you have a conversation with them about the food or even that one minute interaction and you notice something or or the fact that this person's come in a couple of times and they become kind of a regular and then you can connect with somebody in that way. That to me, is so much more valuable to me than the idea of looking across at this kind of full room buzzing energy like that doesn't mean it's wonderful to see. It's great, obviously, for business. But that doesn't energize me. Like the I remember like one of the more prominent ones was swift that we opened. And I remember they came and had this family came in and had dinner and it was their son's freshman orientation. And then four years later, they came for the graduation dinner, you know, but they've come in throughout the time. And I've kind of watched him develop and grow. And it was like, oh, man, has it been four years already. And it's like they're like, yeah, of course, this is a day kind of close that loop. And it was just so special to me that that I could be a part of that, you know, and I love that aspect. I love looking across the room and kind of. Figuring out like, oh, man, who's on first dates and who's here talking about something that they need to work through and then, you know, or who's here with a long lost friend and they're reconnecting and how how we can help facilitate that experience, that stuff is what, you know, really kind of gets me going as opposed to just like the party, you know. Gotcha. As despite what it feels like. So it seems like
[00:10:52] that's a do you frequent the restaurants that you own? Because, I mean, I feel like a lot of restaurant owners don't or that artists don't know because I wouldn't recognize them if I was a restaurant. Right.
[00:11:03] I have the kind of the model that we started, my business partner and I, is we I start operate and then we develop. We built the next one. I operate and kind of backfill that position. So now I'm working on a project with the Hope Outdoor Gallery. I have a small I have a relatively small consulting that kind of fills in the mortar, that kind of fills in the gaps between the major projects, hoping the major one right now, native being another major, one native hostel.
[00:11:32] Cool. Let's go into those. I want to get more into the backstory of society and how you started. But now that we're on top of the gallery and we've mentioned that we might as well just explain what it is. Can you talk about it?
[00:11:42] Yeah. So, you know, zoom back. A decade ago, my partner, Andy, Andy Skoll, who is a long term friend, literally known for 20 years, you know, she started this. It's over off of Beyler Street, 11th and Beyler over there off of CastleHill area. Yeah. It was the failed the foundation of a failed condo project, you know, so it's just a bunch of walls of a building that never came to be.
[00:12:12] This is Graffiti Park.
[00:12:13] You park at Castle Hills, right. So she used it or wanted it as a as an installation. It was a temporary thing. Got a hold of, you know, the landlord over there. And, you know, she was kind of known for doing these awesome pop up events and really great in the community. And so she put together this this pop up kind of installation, you know, at the time actually didn't even recognize the significance of it. It was just she wasn't she this is what she did. And it just became this thing. It just really gelled and really evolved into this incredible community for artists. And what ended up happening is it grew. And as people fell in love with the project, we were able to you know, the landward with the help of the landlord was really kind of stave off the development of it to keep it going. I mean, it's supposed to be like, I believe, a few months of an installation and it turned into nine years. You know,
[00:13:10] it's sorry to interrupt you, but yeah, it came up on the podcast before I was telling you before. Lucas Gilkey, the owner of Hometown Hero, was inspired by the graffiti Parker Castle Hills and hired some of those artists to do the labeling. And it gives them a percentage of the art on the labels. And it's really cool labels and stuff.
[00:13:24] Yeah, and that's then that's what it is. That's the. What motivated us is to see this community and to recognize that. You know, between me and Andy and you know, the other people, a lot of these artists, I think a lot of people. Don't feel like being an artist is a viable. Job, it's almost like what a risk it is, and in reality, a lot of it is just because it's just not taught that way. And it's not we don't have the infrastructure to kind of do that because it's just never treated that way. And we we kind of aim to change that. We want to disrupt the way that the arts are kind of viewed and funded. And, you know, it is a the park over there was a nonprofit run entity and we kind of thought about it that we believe that particular the arts are able to. Eat what it kills, right? We should be able to to. Have a a platform or venue or something that allows people to come out, support the artist, support the local artists, have an education program to teach an artist who wants to be, you know, who wants to learn how to incorporate themselves, how to start an S corp, how to you know, maybe, you know, how to teach somebody how to do this or to even at the very least, you know, steal sharpened steel to be around a community of artists that they can develop. I mean, not everyone has that inner vandal in them that puts on a hoodie and goes and paints underneath the bridge to practice. You know, not everybody has that in them. While that's a very valuable part of the culture, I think is this kind of, you know, cutting edge, you know, voice of the streets type of thing that we love. There's also some people that can can really need to have some areas to practice. I mean, this is one of the stories that I remember so clearly is there's an artist that used one of the walls out of the park, the one on Capitol Hill, to paint a giant, you know, a big 20 foot mural as an audition piece for somebody. Because if you're an unknown artist, you know somebody who has a large budget that wants to paint a big 20 foot mural, it's not going to take a chance on somebody without kind of seeing what your skills are. But it's kind of a catch 22 like what comes first, right? Are you chicken and the egg? So, oh, I don't know if you can do it. So I can't hire you to do it, but I can't hire you to do it until you know that you can do it. And so being able to have this opportunity for them to practice these large murals and to showcase these art and for someone like Lucas to go out there and find an artist and go, man, I really love this person's work. And you don't know if that person is a world famous has made their living as an artist or somebody who just got out there for the first time and is just practicing, you know, who knows? Maybe they like you like their style and you have the opportunity to kind of discover themselves. You know, it's like a very analog sound cloud, right? It's kind of like, you know, so but yeah. So we knew that we had to move. Ultimately, that area is going to be developed. There's nothing we can do about it. And searching. We searched for the last five years, probably to different places and trying to work with the city, maybe to become part of a public park or not and everything. And finally, we found space out there by the airport, you know, by Carson Creek that, you know, found some land that's perfect. And, you know, through a brilliant design idea from Andy that it was kind of we're over between two flight paths of the airplanes. So from the sky, it spells out the word hope and see what the top of the buildings and the part that's so cool. And, you know, when we have all of us involved me, Andy is Lidington, Antônio, we all have other jobs, you know. And so it's wonderful because we can really put our heart into this in so far as to make sure that it stays true to its root, which is to provide a community center to to push the envelope as far as how charity is handled, you know, to have a venue that charities can go into and know that we are of the same minded, that the profit motive is not always leveraging. You know, what we can do to to help you raise money for your cause and for us to you know, if we can get thousands of people to come out and look at amazing art and then just sell them a bottle of water and a coffee or a cocktail, then we can fund it ourselves. You know, we can fund our own charity. We can fund the summer camps for kids to come and practice. You know, we're you know, we're working with a group called Hip Hop for Hope that's going to be teaching breakdancing lessons. And, you know, these type of hosta Olympic trials for breakdancing, you know, and the possibilities are endless. Arts are full encompassing. Obviously, my first audition was to say that culinary arts, you know, when to put a commissary kitchen out there and to be able to teach, you know, cooking classes to, you know, underprivileged, underserved communities or privileged and serve communities that wants to come out there and let their tuition help pay for somebody else that can, you know, that can who is unable to, but then to explore that aspect and to really learn and to really educate because, you know, so many time summer camps, especially the ones that I went to, particularly for underprivileged youth, it's like daycare rates really there to to trust trying to to watch your kids give their parents a breather kind of thing, you know, but now you're seeing this movement towards these camps that are really trying to provide some life skills and to really kind of teach these kids that they can do that. I mean, I don't it wasn't an option for me to be a chef growing up. That wasn't an idea. There wasn't something. But maybe we can and maybe we can. You know, I had this idea that when my friends were in, you know, some of my chef friends that were in culinary school and they're practicing and they're cooking and they bring home, you know, twenty bagels that they baked that day. And I'm like, well, no one would do with twenty bagels, but it's like, well think about that, you know, summer camp maybe providing food to feed a community of people who need food, you know, and that food can kind of become this life cycle. And we're educating and also taking care of the people who are in need and kind of create this ecosystem. That is just full of love, hope and, you know, positivity, and that really resonated with all of us. And and so that's what we're trying to do. It's audacious, you know, but
[00:19:32] it looks beautiful. I saw the pictures on Instagram. You should check it out. It's an outdoor gallery, I believe. If not, I'll put it in the show notes. But they said, you know, laying it brick by brick. It's beautiful brick walls and the graffiti, the Castle Hills is amazing. So this whole project, super exciting. It really adds to the Austin arts and culture. And if you can, you know, do these fun, these charges, some of them even
[00:19:51] better, you know. Yeah. The you know, we just want to be able to do that and do some good shows out there and obviously have a have some place for families to go to do things. Obviously now being outdoors is super important. So the timing is pretty good with that. And then, you know, largely it is just a good opportunity to to move to treat art as a career, as a as a with the reverence that it deserves, especially particularly, you know, outdoor street art. And it's great that the brick by brick program is amazing because we're using all earth in bricks. And we just found out a couple of weeks ago that we're the largest earthen structure in the history of Texas. I realize we use Austin Dirt and all kind of recycled materials to make these bricks literally compressing this, you know, compressing these bricks into bricks that we can build a wall from using the dirt that was excavated out to build the foundation is really kind of the zero carbon footprint type of thing. And we're doing rainwater collection and we do solar out there to try to make sure this giant facility is relatively carbon negative or at least carbon neutral, you know, kind of thing. And so, you know, I think it's a proof of concept. You know, I'm you know, I have big goals. I think we have big goals. I think that. We hope that this would become something that becomes part of the the culture of Austin to say we're one of the exciting parts for me that we're five minutes from the airport is, you know. Dramatically, maybe, but I'm saying that the fall of Western civilization was not one of the one of the terrible things that happened to us in my lifetime was not being able to say bye to people at the airport. I remember. I'm old enough to remember being at the window and waving at the plane as it flies, you know, with my uncle in it or my, you know, my cousin or my mother or whatever it is. And I remember standing at the end of the jetway and seeing them at the end and having them, you know, grab their bags and run to the rest of the jetway. And what that meant to give that first, you know, that first or last kind of embrace, you know, and and I think the the hostage level kicking out of the car when you're driving through, you know, driving through the security line, I think it damaged us. I think it damaged us more than we'd like to admit, you know. And and so there's a there's a part of me that has this dream that we're going to have a shuttle that kind of goes back and forth in the airport to the thing, a free shuttle or donations based probably at the at the very least to be able to say that maybe part of the new culture will be, hey, you know, just you got a flight at five o'clock. Why don't we meet at Hope at 3:00, grab lunch, go look at some dope art, you know, grab a cocktail, grab a coffee, take a picture in front of an awesome mural, give a proper hug. I go home, you hop on the shuttle and get to your flight. And instead of this driving through and kick you out the car, you know, I just I don't know. I just feel like I feel like there's something cathartic about that and, you know, who knows. But that's that's my hope.
[00:22:49] I think it'll be great. Thanks. So I've I mean, I've been following on Instagram and stuff, and you talk a lot about charity helping the community and stuff like that. Is that always been a big thing for you or is that something that as you got more successful, you saw that you were able to do more help for other people?
[00:23:04] It's always been a thing. I will say that it's evolved. I think there was a part of my head that I always gravitated towards this dream of signing that big novelty check over to a charity, you know, like where you sit there and you hold up at something at some auction that, hey, you know, this organization signed a check for fifty thousand dollars or whatever it was. And I kind of had that vision. But it's evolved and I think it's evolved to the point where. Any anybody can help at any time, at any level. You know, one of the things of talking to somebody the other day came up with an idea that says that, you know, all of our arms are different lengths and different strengths, you know, and so we don't have to give in the same way into the same capacity. But it starts with the heart of it. It starts that you want to help and then figure out where you can go. Somebody asked me, what's the best way to do to make meaningful change, meaningful action? And I was like, well, it's got to mean something to you first. That's what you got to figure out. Because once it does take that meaning, take that belief and then intersect it with what your resources are,
[00:24:08] figure it out. I think that's something to think about. My girlfriend, she's done some volunteering and she's gave me a tip. She said the most rewarding, volunteering for her when she was volunteering at something that she was skilled at, like. Yes, coaching people on personal finance or something. She's like, since I know how to do that, well, it's just like I can actually use the skills that I have to pass on to the people 100 percent.
[00:24:27] I mean, that's why it's like one of those things where it's it's you know, it comes from logistical minded for me, for operating businesses and operating restaurants and the hospitality side. But it's like we can't you know, I never stood in the way of my my, you know, servers or bartenders to say, you need to use this script because this is the way to do it. It's like, no, figure out what the end goal is, figure out what you've got and do it. You might be, you know, a really fast bartender and that's what you're good at. And so put yourself and say I'm a work the speedwell and make sure that I get the servers, their drinks faster. And, you know, you might be the kind of person that can wax poetic with everybody. Well, then you're better bet might be working Monday night because you might be you know, you might be able to take that experience and really turn it into something special. And it's so it's like these the idea of understanding of what your skill set is and finding where that intersects with what you want to do to give back it. Is it. It'll never be. Truly, you know, poignant or powerful to you until it's until it means something? I agree with her 100 percent because you can find something that you're already passionate about because you've spent your you know, your time, your energy developing that skill. And now you can have that opportunity to to do it. I mean, during the snow pocalypse, snow that whatever you want to call it during that time, you know, working with Austin Mutual Aid after, you know, the water initiative. I don't know if you saw that. Yes. And one of the things we needed a lot of bilingual dispatchers, some people that can speak to these families that are in need. And the bilingual aspect was very, very important. And so we found it's like, yeah, so you might not be able to cut a check and help out or you might not be able to make a donation monetarily or you might not even have the time or the car to go and drive and make these deliveries or the ability to do that. But if your skill set is you happen to speak English and Spanish, then you were at one point in time, you were like gold, you were valuable, valuable. Not that you were more valuable than this, but it was a then any other position. It was just that skill set was just very critical. And so, you know, it that would be there was a time when I needed that more than a donation. Right. Because we had some donations. But how could we even get it to people without you, without this person? And so, you know, recognizing that where you can take that and find out where your skill and your gifts can cross over to give back to your community is is paramount now. Before all that, you got to care about the community, I can't tell you how to do that. I can't tell you how to care about the community. That's that's the thing. And again, I'm not virtue signaling or trying to shame people for not doing stuff with me. But but when you wake up in the morning and then you go out there and you go about your business and you look in the community, and if you see something that you said, you know, I would like to help this out or I feel like I have a need or want to do that, then you should answer that call that that uncomfortable somebody needs to do something about this. I, I tend to answer that call more often than not when I feel uncomfortable or I feel like this shouldn't happen or this shouldn't be the way it works instead of just going home and saying and it shouldn't be the way it does, it is, I said, well what can we do about it? You know, and and that's the one minor difference I think is, you know, the name of the the video that we posted was called What Can We Do to Help? Mm hmm. So ask that question. Somebody will answer that question. Someone who tell you they'll talk to the community. They need your help. What can we do to help somebody tell you? Yeah, just watch the store for a second. You know, hold my hold the leash while I tie my shoe. You know, it's literally just asking. And when we're so isolated, I think that we we don't want to, you know, put obligations on people. We don't want to, you know, bother somebody. And there's a lot of pride and dignity involved or asking for help. And but if somebody offers it a lot of times, you know, it's like, you know what? That would be pretty good. You know, somebody struggling with groceries and just looking at them like I'm sure they could probably some help. I'm just gonna walk to my car. But instead of sitting there going, good, can I, you know, can I help you out? And they should be like, yeah, actually, you know, but they're not going to ask a stranger for their help. Not not everyone has that in them. So, you know, I think that we should take it upon ourselves to look for the need and see what we can do.
[00:28:48] I have the good luck of every time I get out of my car, someone's like, hey, can you help us carry this refrigerator into our house? And I'm like, I guess that than another person was. I got another car there, like, hey man. And there was a couch in the back. And I was like, Yeah, I know you're going to be.
[00:29:02] I'm a tall dude. So I got a lot of lightbulbs changed in my life. And one of my aunts and uncles used to always do that, invite me over for dinner and all of a sudden I look on a dining table. It's like six light bulbs. I'm like, I got it.
[00:29:13] Nice. So how do you feel about Austin right now? Is there anything current events or in the future, anything that we need to work on or do better?
[00:29:23] You know, I think we're all growing. I think we have to look at Austin as a as a part of a larger ecosystem. You know, I mean, I think that as Austin grows, obviously, it's growing so rapidly. You're you're we're having growing pains. You know, we have to decide who we are as a as a community. And we have to, you know, kind of dissect each of these communities and figure out I'm not one I'm not in a position to say something is right or wrong. It's really more of do I want to be a part of a community that does this? Do I want to be a part of a community that does that? It's our each individual, you know, preferences in a way we tend to speak. I think the problem is we tend to speak in these large universal truths. And yes, I understand that there's some large universal truths about social justice, but as we've seen, even those can be disagreed on. So at the end, I think what we need to really look at is to recognize that these things. You're OK with it or you're not OK with it, and it's hard to admit because when you push somebody to that kind of binary. Decision either did the line is drawn, you're either OK with this or you're not OK with this, people try to grab people, try to say, well, you know, I feel not really. That's not kind of. And then you're like, no, no, no. Like, we can we can hash it out. But truthfully, you're on this side of you're on this side of the tracks for that kind of discussion on any issue. Obviously, we're very divided on a lot of a lot of issues, particularly being a very progressive city in a very conservative state. Right. And as we see, as the state kind of moves more split right down the middle almost, it's even more so. But I think what we all need to work on as a society, as a city, as a as a country, and this is going to be very bold to say is we need to create space to have that conversation. That's the difficult part right now. I think that what you are doing right here is paramount, meaning while we might agree on a lot of things, people need to have this right here, which is sitting in a conversation in a safe space to say that you can speak your opinion without necessarily. Having to agree with the person that you're sitting across from, I think that while I am I totally understand the idea that not everyone is equipped, willing, suited or even wants to be that teacher, we would ideally want people to to do the work themselves. But there needs to be a space for, I call it, to be a patient, teacher or patient opponent. Right. Because we need the opportunity to take somebody and to recognize that to kind of pinpoint the person who might be opposition because they're unaware of your position. They might be opposition because they've just held it for a long time and nobody's ever presented the opposing view. But, you know, it's one of those things that we're probably more alike than we are different. And we kind of lost sight of that.
[00:32:50] I think I feel like I agree with that. I feel like that's we're moving away from farther away from, I don't know, talking things out and more of just kind of like there's just two sides or whatever
[00:33:00] that is to decide. And it's it's easier that way. It's very you know, people call it an uncomfortable conversation. It's not it's not uncomfortable for me. You should work on it. Anything you do practice, you get better at it. You should practice until it's no longer uncomfortable. It's just one of those things. I remember growing up as a kid, I was that kid that let the people knocking on the door to spread whatever they were trying to spread the Jehovah's Witness or whatever it was they were knocking on the door. I was the guy that brought him in because I'm like, Oh, you got the truth, will. Come on in. You know, I've been going to this building every every Sunday that they said they got the truth. So maybe you got the truth. Let's, you know, let's hear it. And to toot, because I feel like data is important, I feel like information is important and then draw it. It's I have a battle. I think our biggest problem. I keeps using these superlatives, one of our largest problems is confirmation bias, right, as a science minded person, the. To make a conclusion in every other aspect of your life, generally, logically, you should get all the data and draw a conclusion, far from it, right. As much data as you can and draw as educated on the conclusion off of it as you can. What we've done is flipped it backwards and created this confirmation bias where you're creating a conclusion out of your hopes, dreams and wants, and then searching for the data to defend that, to balance that, finding groups of people that like that. You know, it's the if I went out onto the highway and I was looking for blue cars, I'm going to find blue cars. Does that mean that there's more blue cars than there are red cars? No, because all I'm looking for a blue cars. You know, that's not accurate and it's not beneficial. And at the end of the day, you create this echo chamber. You know, I live by that creed. You know, I like I've always said, if I'm the smartest person in the room, I'm in the wrong room. I don't I don't want I don't want to be not challenged in my relationships, in my friendships and everything. It should challenge me because that challenge grows us. You know, we recognize that in health resistance training, working out all that stuff, this conversation is working out for me. This is exercise because I'm being recorded. So I have to be held accountable for what I say. And so this recognition that at the time I have to say to I really believe that I'm OK with saying this out into the world and causes me to think about that. The Internet has created this terrible opportunity that you can say stuff and and not be held accountable for it because you're an anonymous person. You can just throw it out there. You can just throw this grenade into a room and then not realize how many people it's hurt. You know, that causes damage. It really does. And this is an unseen side effect as many wonderful things that the social media and technology and that has created. You don't realize that when you say something offensive to somebody in real life, you have to counteract the possibility that the guy is going to punch you in the face or look hurt and you can see it in their faces. What is it? However, many, 90 percent of communication is nonverbal, right? This idea that when you say something that's just horribly hurtful across just in forty characters, 140 characters and just send it out into the world, you don't see what that does. You don't see how it triggers or traumatizes or whatever it is somebody else. And you don't realize that. But if you said that to that person in real life, I dare you not to feel something. If you see somebody and all of a sudden you could see it, just crush them or hurt them or or or maybe enlighten somebody or whatever it is, look at it on the positive. So all of that are stuff that we need to combat because this is the information age. We have to master this. It's not going anywhere. So we have to learn how to navigate it. And we have to recognize these. We have to figure out how to create a connection now that connections are fast, easy and anonymous. So we need to make sure that we have the ability and an opportunity to have these conversations. I have a a group that gathers, you know, once a month that we started kind of in the beginning of the summer of the social justice, the Black Lives Matter movement. And we kind of talked about how we can be better allies and everything like that. And I one of the things I press in this group is this can't stop here. We're an echo chamber. We all agree. We're all fighting each other, patting each other on our back here. This conversation should be gearing you up and training you and getting you ready to have this conversation with your parents. Or when somebody says something in a group that you are ancillary friends with or whatever it is that you previously would be like, oh, I can't talk to this person and sit there and say. Oh, no. Why do you feel that way? And be curious and be genuine, you have to be genuine, like, why do you feel that way? That I maybe it's a curse or a gift, but I'm genuinely curious when somebody believes something that I'm, you know, diametrically opposed to. I'm like, wait, you really don't like pizza? You know? Like what? Like, I'm curious. I want to know. I don't sit there, go, you're crazy. When the world who doesn't like this this kind of this thought that doesn't cross my mind. My first thought is, man, I'm fat. Tell me more what is going on. And I feel that way about everything. If I, if I find somebody who generally opposes what I or, you know, disagrees with what something I agree very strongly on, my first reaction isn't to convert this person or to push back. My first reaction is like. Well, I mean, maybe this person knows something I don't, and it's very easy to kind of fall into this echo chamber because you're surrounded by people that agree with you and you have to you have to venture out. You've got to make space for that conversation, not for everybody. It's a bell curve. There's some people in the side. They're never going to change their mind and people on this side that might never change their mind. Don't worry about those. Worry about the people who who you care about. And they're legitimately like might be able to grow you and grow them and have that conversation. I think that's what we all need to work
[00:39:06] on for sure. And maybe things like clubhouse and a push towards real time communication online as opposed to, you know, the asynchronous communication or whatever. Yeah, we'll be more of like, you know, you immediately if you said something or responded to maybe as tech gets better, the Internet gets better. There's more of that and less of like, you know, post something and just want to show it for sure.
[00:39:24] I think that that's what, you know, we're all trying to the irony of the whole thing is that we're trying to. Recreate what we've been missing with the novelty of it. The. Convenience of it is intoxicating, right? Like, I don't know how we ever made plans without text messaging. You know, I remember as a kid
[00:39:50] that was when people kept their plans because.
[00:39:52] Exactly. Exactly. And then what's funny about that, that that's what I mean is that that's where the side effect that we we weren't aware of this instantaneous communication of wherever you were seems very convenient, very beneficial. But the truth is, it allows you to cancel up to the last second and it allows you to be flaky to that last level where you used to be. You know, if you and I had lunch plans and I left my house, there's no way you can get a hold of me on the road. You had to call the restaurant or I'd be at the restaurant going. Did he get in an accident or something happened. And legitimately, people planned around that, knowing that there's no way that we can cancel. And you were way more, you know, apt to be kept your word in that way. But now we know we could literally cancel the moment before, you know, these maybe start to become very strong because you can make that decision up until the last possible minute. And we're trying to combat that. We're all trying to figure that out. Is the same thing with communications, with email, also stuff. So now as people are realizing and then feeling that lack and without even necessarily understanding it, we're creating this. RECONNECTION by having face to face communication is one of those things that happened in the beginning of the pandemic of being in quarantine. I'm a first adopter. I'm a tech nerd, ran a pirate board in middle school and high school with, you know, with my best friends and stuff like that. And we did all that. So, you know, we dreamed about the Dick Tracy video watch, video conferencing, all that stuff, the technology and how amazing it would be. And then I never used it. It just became so inconvenient because it's so much easier to drop a text and, you know, to call somebody, you know, or whatever it is. And then all of a sudden during quarantine, you you felt starved for seeing your friends and connecting with them. So guess what? House party started. You know, face time started. I started having face time lunch meetings where we would just sit across from each other, look at each other's computer screen, this phone screen, and eat lunch together, me my sandwich in their bowl of soup or whatever it is. And it surprisingly felt like I was having lunch with the person, you know, and there's a created this unusual connection because guess what? When you laugh, you saw them smile when you said something, you know, intense, they were looking at you and making eye contact through a screen, but it was still eye contact. And you felt this thing where you're like, whoa, like, this is amazing. And during that time is when it was I have, you know, my sister and my nephews and, you know, her, her husband live out in San Jose. You know, we text and we'd call my sister is one of the most important people in my entire life. And I was like, why don't I FaceTime them more often? I can watch my nephew and talk to him and watch him grow and just hang out with him where I would call and FaceTime when they're doing your thing or what are you doing? We're just having dinner. And he waved the phone around the room and I say, I don't like what took me so long. You know, it's just inconvenience because guess what, when your face time in, you got to sit still for a second. You can't do something else. You can't be playing a you know, watching TV while that's happening. You can't, you know, do 10 other things that we get caught up in doing. You have to connect with the person. That's what's happening, you know, and and I love it. I think that's wonderful. And, you know, next thing you know, we're going to be back to having coffee with each other again. Oh, my God. Was that going to be like, you know, stuff like that?
[00:43:20] You know, we're getting there soon and we're towards end of time. But so I want to get more into sports, I think, if you don't mind, because that was was that your first restaurant?
[00:43:29] Technically, yeah. I mean, we can skip over the real I had a I had a kind of a bad business deal where I was naive and signed on and help develop a concept that that never amounted to for me to get anything out of it. I, I skip through it. Everybody, we all have one of those under our belts. It was just a I signed on the wrong that line.
[00:43:48] But you started off, you transitioned to be a bartender and that was you fell in love with the restaurant industry and the community aspect of it, seeing people come in and then you got the ambition to want to start your own.
[00:43:59] Well, I started there. I moved to Austin. My sister's going to, but I started at a corporate bar and grill called Foxhound. It used to be over here in Fourth Street. You know, ran that for a couple of years and then ran and ran Kanichi, which was my first kind of foray into finer dining, you know, high end dining. And I loved it that, you know, we became one of the things that really happened from a networking. The social aspect that really served me really well is like the Statesman wrote something about us being one of the four hardest restaurants to get into. It's all of a sudden it was like a hot ticket, like people were, you know, calling me, begging for a table or we start all of a sudden became this kind of, you know, this gatekeeping type of situation. And it was great because it really network because a lot of people who loved what we were doing all of a sudden wanted to get to know us and become regulars and and we started developing friends and stuff like that. So that was my first instinct. Ran that for about three years and then went on to this other project that that did pretty well and then went from there to a consulting type of many things to help out my current business partner with a business venture that he had a restaurant that he had kind of took over, helped him out for help over there, worked there for about two years. And then he was like I told him I was like, my ultimate goal was to open my own. And then he just hit me and had this kind of moment where we really had this very almost difficult conversation. And I you know, I'm still so thankful for him for that that day, which it was a very difficult situation because I was just kind of nestling into operating this restaurant again, just back into my comfort zone of just operating this restaurant. And he was like, look, are you do you want to open your own place or not? Because you haven't done anything to to develop this new concept that we need. It's like I can find somebody else to do this if they want to. But you why are you doing this? You're not replacing yourself. You're not backfilling. You're not delegating. You're not doing any of these things that somebody needs to do to scale. You know, I'm ready to do this. Restaurant with you, but you got to do it. What are you doing over here still? Why are you still working Monday night here instead of finding a manager to replace you? Because I need you to come knock on my door and say, look, I'm ready. Let's go look at locations. Let's go talk about business plans. Let's talk about fundraising. Let's talk about all that. And it was just really kind of like I was like, man, I don't know what to do. And I said, What do you mean you don't know what to do? You've done it. You know, we're doing it right now. If you don't know what we talk about it, you know? And it was just very. Poignant moment is tipping point, that was very good, and then he went and then boom, next thing we know, we kind of came up with this concept of so exotic that evolved and found this location and it just kind of became there. And again, we lump together. Somebody wrote about us, called this to Justice League because it was my executive chef from, you know, Chieko and Whispy or Ouchy and Respire. There wasn't an ego then. Ooten was BuYeo and then pastry chef from, you know, Parkside and you know, the sous chef from winking. I mean it just like all these kind of big players in the Austin restaurant scene. We all came together to kind of put together this crazy restaurant and that got a lot of kind of buzz because of it. And then, you know, again, the idea was this kind of. For us by US FUBU of restaurants, which is like, you know, kind of disrupt this idea of how fine dining should be. I was one of those people that I'm like, yeah, I shouldn't be stuffy. I want good food, but I don't want it to be quite.
[00:47:28] The hip hop came from the
[00:47:30] hip hop thing came from we were there. So the first day, grand opening weekend, we're just playing basic ambient music. It wasn't anything, you know, some like the kind of. You know, whatever that station was that had that kind of basic, you know, kind of vibe type of music, and it was a day that MCE from the Beastie Boys passed away. And obviously being a hip hop head, I was like, oh, that's, you know, devastating to me. It was just it was a tough day and it was like, all right, I'll tell you what. One of the things we did over there was to rebel against us. We wanted to embrace the craft beer movement. But at the same time, I didn't want to be boogie, so I didn't want people to feel like, oh, if they wanted to drink, you know, Miller Lite, like, we don't serve that here. Kind of like I hated that vibe. All right. So we're going to carry all these craft beers, but we're going to carry Mickey's hand grenades. We're going to carry these like, you know, bootleg, you know, malt liquor that you buy from the corner store, you know, whatever. And so we carried Mickey's hand grenades. And one of the things we're like, all right, so what are we going to do is pull out if we're going to sell these Micki's hand grenades for like three bucks, I'm going to pour little out, pour some orange juice in them. So brass monkeys, and we're going to donate all of the proceeds to the military back to the, you know, their their foundation, the Beastie Boys Foundation. And so that night packed house grant, you know, kind of grand opening weekend, Friday night, you know, nine o'clock comes around, we're jam and we're still on like a two hour wait. You know, everyone's they're having a great time. And I was like, all right. So moment of silence just turned off all the music till people kind of noticed it was about a minute and everyone was kind of like looking around the music. But then I just cranked brass monkey,
[00:49:14] you know,
[00:49:15] and I mean, people stood up and clapped and people were like, you know, just really feeling it. I was like, oh, OK. I didn't know that Austin was like that. So I just played the rest of, you know, played a whole playlist. I was had, you know, a bunch of the license to Ill and then played Paul's Boutique. And and then it was like just and then I ran out of Beastie Boy tracks and then started playing, you know, Big Tribe and, you know, Wu Tang and all this other stuff and all my favorite, you know, 90s hip hop. And people were coming up to me afterward, like, yo, I've never experienced them like this. We're eating quail. And, you know, this amazing, you know, really kind of chef driven, eccentric, small plates and listening to Tupac and listening to, you know, to the tribe and our side and all this other stuff, you know, the roots. And I just like, wow, I didn't realize that. So it just became a thing. And, you know, I played my music probably two notches higher than the average restaurant because it's part of the experience. You know, I want you to laugh loudly. I don't want you to be at a dinner table. Somebody said something funny like, oh, I'm sorry to interrupt you. It's like, oh, man. It's like when you're here with your friend, you should be loud. You should be enjoying should enjoy yourself. If you're not if that's not the vibe you want, there are restaurants that you can be quiet, go to them. I'm not trying to be that I'm I try to be everything to everybody, but I want that when I'm with my friends, I want to have a good time, share food, enjoy ourselves, laugh when somebody says something funny, you know, cry when somebody says something sad, like that's just the way it should be. That's the way I in my vision, the food experience is that we are facilitating this connection. The music is part of that experience, and it's all I never understood the reason of why the music that you listen to driving up to the restaurant couldn't be played at the restaurant, which didn't make any sense. It's like why? It's like why, you know, why would you and turn off the radio and go up there, listen to some elevator music like why? What does this become? This thing. It's like now and it's like, just listen to it. It's like this. My one of my biggest joys is looking at the room and seeing people, you know, Bob, in their head eating their food and or singing along or whatever it is. And that to me, like you're you're hitting all the senses right there. You know, you're tasting you're looking around and seeing what's going on, the vibe. You're hopefully with somebody that you know, that you that you vibe with in your you know, you're smelling the delicious food and you're listening to amazing music. And, you know, it's all of that together. It's like that's what I'm trying to do, is to provide this experience because, you know, let's hope that that's what you're doing outside of my restaurant, you know?
[00:51:40] MAN So when did you start?
[00:51:42] Rucho Two and a half years, you know, and we always kind of developing the thing. I'm. I you know, being Chinese American, I've always wanted to share this part of my culture, I mean, food is so important to me. And one of the things I said before is a lot of times the first time that somebody gets to experience in other cultures through their food, you know, like somebody who's never been to Mexico before, have might have tried Mexican food being and being in Texas, somebody who's never flown to Shanghai that has a soup dumpling at Chow can sit there and go, oh, I remember I had this before. And then hopefully one day they'll make it over there. And this is familiar, you know, and or at least to represent the kind of beauty in it. And so it it was just one thing that always kind of weighed in my mind to say that we needed more of that culture represented. There's a few places in town that have done it, but never kind of like this and not in that downtown hitting that kind of demographic that I was hitting and I really wanted to provide. You know, organic and farm to table and adding in the aspect of the music and the service and this whole vibe, that's that's going because I came from sushi bars, right. Running that that really kind of took a cuisine and kept it elevated. And so for me, I was like, why can't Chinese food be this way? Also, there's no reason why you can't have this experience eating your eating fried rice and eating a soup dumpling that that you can have having it a mommy and and a and a role or something. You know, so much MUJAO, my grandmother and my mother, I was raised by my grandmother, my mother. And, you know, like I said, I grew up kind of in a in a single parent household. And she fed me and she encouraged me my whole life. And they were super, super devastated that I got into the food and beverage industry because I was so nervous and, you know, and I wanted to honor her. And so my grandmother's last name is Wu. And so Wu Chow Chinese colloquially was its hall, which is like cook, and so will Chow and then Chow, obviously in English also I so there's a lot of kind of depth. Yeah. Whatever. And then naming it Wu after my grandmother because I wanted her to get the credit. It was like one of the things my last name is Chin, but I was saying that if this became anything I wanted everyone to know that it was her. There's the she she deserves all the credit for the whole family that, that, that raised me and fed me and and took care of me this whole time is what what did it show? The logo is even her handwriting. You know, I went there and pulled out the old feather pen and she wrote her name 100 times until she found one that she liked. And we used her signature as as our logo. It's just just really as an homage to her and to give again to share this aspect of my culture that I so love to a city that has given me so much, has welcomed me and built like that. So that's that's kind of the impetus for show.
[00:54:45] That's a really cool back story, man. Thanks, man. So obviously, this was the hardest year for the restaurant industry around the world. Were you nervous? Were you ever close to having to shutting down any of your restaurants or anything like that?
[00:54:58] Oh, it was terrifying. I mean, luckily, again, my business partner is extremely good at at Operations, you know that.
[00:55:07] Oh, that's you. OK, OK. I never know what is going on inside of your business partners is extremely good at operations. Well yeah.
[00:55:12] He, he knows how to he knows how to how, how to, to, to manage cash flow very, very well. There's never a doubt about that. And he, you know, he's a he's a businessman through and through and he, he knows, you know, he like it. That's not my strength. It really is. And I'm an operations person on the ground level. But I don't know how to properly apply for people and deal with landlord leases and negotiations with that kind of stuff. That was never my forte, you know. And so he, you know, handled it very, very well. And and so from an operation perspective, we have amazing operators in town. Luckily, others are in place. We luckily I. Prior to this, had, you know, already kind of positioned myself to be working on Open Native and we negotiated because my GM overall child, Rebecca in and her GM Sam over there are incredible. They've been with us since day zero. You know, Rebecca was the one that put up the mahjongg wall that's in there that literally, you know, glued it all to the wall herself, you know, so she it's as if I was there. She she was there for a minute, one expressing those views. And then, you know, Casey and the team and Curtis and Jeff were with us at suiciding, you know, since the minute Curtis and Jeff have taken the food program over there. I mean, I go there and it blows my mind that we got all these rare marks of of whiskey and everything like that because of the relationship, because we got these de beers that are very difficult to get, because it's a relationship that they develop. So. We have a very strong operational team, so that wasn't anything that I was concerned of, the main concern really was public sentiment. You know, can we weather this storm and for how long? And, you know, it is it's been handled clumsily and it's been handled in a very bumpy kind of way. But I think that. But good operator knows how to pivot and hopefully, you know, we we don't have to keep doing that anymore. I'd be happy if I never have to hear the word pivot again. A very popular word. Oh, my God, it's so terrible. But it's true. It's to be able to sit here and say, all right, how can we. How can we change this without fundamentally changing who we are and what we are about, or maybe we do and we just find a new way to exist? I think any operator or business person worth worth their salt recognizes that. You know, the example I gave was 15 years ago, I guess in the beginning of like Atkins and all this and all this carb, low carb priede gluten free. It was this low carb fascination, right? I mean, imagine opening up like an Italian restaurant at that time that gave away free bread and even pasta. Like all of a sudden the entire civilization I was on agreed that, hey, we're just going to stop eating bread. And Boston, you're like, oh, my God. So what do we do? Like anybody who recognizes this or saw the writing on the wall and realized that should have started making moves towards figuring out how to cater to these people that are wanting something different. MUJAO open day one, recognizing we're going to need vegan options not as an apology, but to have dishes there because a lot of people want to practice a plant based diet. We went complete gluten free using tomatoes instead of a soy. And I told my chef and I we worked on a recipe to say this We need to use gluten free soy, which does fundamentally taste different. Adjust your recipe to where it works with this soy so that we can say that 80 percent of our menu is gluten free. Just knowing that that's the writing on the wall we need to accommodate. This is what our. Demographic, our clientele, our people, our community wants. So let's let's let's give them what they want, you know. And so, you know,
[00:58:52] people always say that the restaurant industry is one of the toughest industries. And you see restaurants going in and out of business all the time. Can you. Is that true? And why what makes it so hard?
[00:59:02] I think entrepreneurship is very difficult because. What motivates people to do business tends to be. You know, I come from different angles, and I think the restaurant business, the difficult part about it is hospitality and creativity don't necessarily run in this live in the same brain as business savvy and efficiency. And, you know, in those type of those type of thought processes. I mean, part of the reason why I have a consulting business at all is for that reason, a chef that understands and knows how to pitch flavors together might not recognize how to do a proper food cost and be properly profitable, you know, being busy and profitable or two different things. It's one of those things that it's like a lot of these major restaurants, even very busy restaurants. Can still be run almost like a lemonade stand, the equivalent of at the end of the month, they just see how much money they have left after they spent what they needed to spend, rather than looking at a way to replicate and to to kind of break it down into some metrics, into some measurable growth, into some measurable, you know, KPI key performance indicators type things. And so I think that's what makes it difficult. I mean, I remember a chef we're trying at one of the restaurants I was consulting at before and one of the first ones at the party house and he'd bring out this dish is this lobster carpaccio. And I looked at it right away. I was like, it was beautiful claws, this whole disheveled lobster. And I was like, Chef, this is an entire lobster. You know, and I'm like this, this is going to be eighty nine dollars, but can we sell this for eighty nine dollars? Something to buy this rating? I know it's going to be crazy. Is going to be like I get it is probably tasty, but there's a reason why, you know, lobster dishes only have four or five ounces of lobster in it. This is an expensive dish. I mean, I'm sure it's beautiful and delicious, but if we sold this, we would lose money on everyone that we sold out or every one of these that had to throw away because it went bad. We would cancel out every every bit of the profit that we made from the other ones. And so that that brain doesn't necessarily exist in a in a creative in a chef world. I mean, just to bring it all the way back full circle to the artist is the same thing. Not every artist that knows how to paint knows how to sell their paintings. No, not every artist that understands how to, you know, color theory and understands these mediums of how to create these amazing works of art, understands how to incorporate themselves and pay proper taxes and to do that kind of stuff. These, matter of fact, not only not everyone, most of them, those things don't exist. It's it's kind of a right brain left brain thing, even though, you know, whatever you want to believe, if that's a myth or not, it's the understanding that you have spent a lot of your life honing this aspect of your life and you didn't spend any of it talking about that. You know,
[01:01:52] and that's what a good partnership can help. Right. So how did you find your partner
[01:01:56] when he found me? Really, you know, he he saw and he appreciated the way that I ran the restaurant that we were at. We became friends and he recognized this type of thing and said that, hey, I think that you have the opportunity, you have the you have the wherewithal, the skill set that I don't have, which is from the operation side where I have this side and recognize that, again, a good partnership, I think is more supplementary and complementary rather than duplicating. You know, it's great. It's awesome to hang out with somebody that is very much like yourself because you have great things to talk about. We can always talk about these things, but ultimately, you know, we have to find somebody that fills in the difficulties, the challenges that you have, the struggles that you have. I said that on my way out the door to, you know, work on Rucho, my manager that was taking over my general manager role. I said, hey, look, it's going to be very, you know, enticing for you to hire someone like you. I said, but you have to realize you have to hire someone like me because I'm the one that's leaving. I hired you because you like the things that I hate. So now you need to hire somebody that likes things that you hate and get that person here rather than someone that you resonate with that you like, you know? And I'm like, you should like them a little. But at the end of the day, it's like does you no good to hire a duplicate of yourself because then both of y'all are just going to fall on your face when you when you guys don't realize when in the world you need.
[01:03:18] Hey, everyone, this is your host, Justin. I just wanted to thank everyone for listening and give those that are new to the podcast a reminder to please subscribe to the podcast on your favorite podcast player. If you're on YouTube, please like the video share with the friend that helps us out. Thank you. For sure. So what's the story with native hostile, native
[01:03:36] hostile, I became connected with them through just being in the community. It was from a consulting side and. My business partner, Antonio with Hope is one of the three original partners for Native and brought me in on an operational side to just give them an audit to see how they're doing and their bar.
[01:03:59] I was at the time, it was a full Austal. It was had rooms and everything, you know, and so on a bar and an event space. I mean, they were multifaceted. Is this Mecca for for creativity in a very meshed very well with my idea would love to place it's beautifully designed and and but the three partners out of the three of them, two of them are developers, you know, they both GCC and then one is a real estate person. You know, Michael Dixon and Antonio are both incredible builders. They've built some of the best places in Austin, beautiful design places. And then Will who's, you know, wonderful real estate person that understands that game very, very well. But they didn't have any operators under their their team. So, you know, I told them, I'm like, look, it doesn't you know, it doesn't have to be me. I said, but realistically, you can't have no coach that's played the game. You know, that's not a successful team. You sit there and coach a coach, a basketball team, and then you have nobody that's ever played the game. Everyone just kind of knows about it in theory. And so we were they were already looking to expand, talking about building out into native Denver and stuff like that. And so, you know, we we hashed out our. Kind of conversation and decided that we should partner up together because we need some we need that fourth leg to kind of balance out the balance, out the equation, to have an operation side, a development side and finance and real estate side. And so it's again, the same thing is to let's not try to find everybody who we all kind of get along. And I get along with that. We all are the exact same person. We should find people that fill in all the necessary gaps in our skill set so that we can build a team that can properly execute a business. So. You know, that one actually got hit very hard because I don't know if you've ever stayed in a hostel, it's a. Typically, the difference between a hostel and hotels, a hostel is by the bed, hotels by the room. Historically speaking, everywhere else in the world, hostile was a financial decision, it was a cheaper way because you're not renting anteroom, it's a shared space, communal bathrooms, that kind of stuff. So you can go and backpack through Europe and stay in a hostel for 15 dollars a bed. We saw they saw a rise of wanting to capture the culture of that type of. Person that likes that communal entertainment, maybe you're traveling alone and you don't know anybody in the city, but guess what? Now you have some roommates that you can meet. And if you're that type of person, that you enjoy that. Take a hostile fire nozzle, then all of a sudden you wake up and you have a roommate, you're like, hey, where are you going for lunch? They all know we're all traveling different. Will you come with us? To the river. You want to come, you know, so and so forth. So we created this very this community and but still gave it all the creature comforts that a hotel has, you know, private bathrooms instead of communal a bar, a nice bar that has parties and DJs and so on and so forth, that you can go and enjoy yourself and have, you know, a coffee shop and an event space that created, you know, hadn't had dope concerts or whatever it is, you know, in our community where all the art is showcased and people can kind of become a part of this creative. So then when covid hit, it was like all of a sudden the idea of sleeping in the same room with strangers completely went by the not only by the wayside, it was became illegal and very, very bad idea. And so we've since kind of pivoted into a commercial workspace. So now each of these rooms have now become individual businesses, which has been a very cool, very cool difference. You know, we have a chiropractor and we have a chocolatier and we have a, you know, a photo studio and, you know, these small businesses that are using us as a kind of a workspace that then can use the amenities of the hotel almost like as a main office, you know, to go grab coffee and have meetings there or, you know, so and so forth. You know, when we're, what, Austin offices out of there. And it's just a central location for them. And it's great because when they have meetings, they just go out and grab a table at the coffee shop and have a meeting and then go right back to their office. It's a very cool idea. And I think that we're going to probably take that with us, hopefully when we when we develop then versus say, well, we're going to still add in the rooms and everything that aspect once people start to travel again and do that. But I think this idea of a multifamily multiuse. Business kind of retail floor has been really, really fun to watch develop, you know, like we're looking for a barber or a salon or a hairstylist or a nail esthetician or a, you know, a nail salon that wants to move into one of these rooms. So that again, so it's a one stop shop. Go get you a tattoo over there and somebody can go get adjusted by the chiropractor, go somebody go shopping for a chocolate. And and a group of kids can, with a group of people, can be getting their nails done and then everyone can come out and grab a drink afterwards. It's like this kind of awesome little bazaar, this kind of community.
[01:08:47] Nice. Yeah. So we're almost out of time. I got a few more questions for you. Sure. I hope you're still going on time, but where can people maybe catch you around town? What kind of things you'd like to do in Austin? I mean, obviously, they might see you associated with child, etc.. But anything else,
[01:09:00] man, I at this moment, I'm really big on supporting are the people that are trying to do their best. You know, I think that. I love trying out new restaurants. You know, I. Watching what this community did during the last couple. You know, the last couple disasters, as it were, is simultaneously very, very inspiring and wonderful, while also, you know, I would consider kind of monumentally stupid that we had to do that. And so I think that the other end of that equation is to kind of pay it back to them because, you know, places I look at Auro Commodore view and, you know, these you know, these restaurants that have. You know, so and so's delivery and so, you know, these guys, are they they so selflessly gave back to the community so quick and so, you know, automatically that now it's our turn to to go back and support. I mean, I just saw in an ad that posted that look at Auro and Özlem, you know, Michael over there are reopening finally. I mean, and I was like I posted it and told my friends, I'm like, look, man, if they're not booked up every weekend from now until 2023, like, I will be very disappointed in Austin because while they were closed, while they were trying to figure out ways to kind of keep their business alive, they gave. So now it's our chance to go support them. And unfortunately, people have short memories. Remember this. We need to remember that, you know, I with the mutual aid, with hopefully with, you know, with good work, Austin and a couple other people, I'm kind of creating this. I've, you know, affectionately named it kind of disaster, disaster, Boston disaster coalition, this kind of idea of a kind of decentralized. You know, coalition of business groups that can try to prepare for this to not happen again. We all now I've been here long enough to have seen this happen five or six times already with hurricanes, fires or, you know, any different reasons that we do it. But we all seem to start from ground zero every single time we start from zero again, just reset and then somebody has to step up. Good work. Austin is the first group that I've seen that has maintained this kind of throughout. And so when it happened again, that's how they were able to respond so quickly because they had just kind of done this whole group and this organization, the the march the day before, you know, the year before because of covid. So they maintained this this group. And so the idea of us kind of all sitting at this round table of being able to put the right people to flip this bad signal on and tell everybody to kind of mobilize, I think has been very weighing very heavily on my heart to try to work on on top of hope. I'll be there once hope opens. I'll be there a lot. So I'm sure you know, come see me there. But this has been something that's very, very important to me because I don't want to do this again. You know, I don't want to have to do that again. I don't want to have to find a way. It's like I don't mind. I don't I like helping. And I think we all need to help. And I know that this isn't the last disaster. And I know that we can't prepare for everything. But it shouldn't be we shouldn't have to go uphill and backwards to do it like we should at least just to to kind of put the rails down and let it let it go. You know, I mean, perfect examples like the breweries that that recognize and I can't you know, I wish I need to do some research because people ask me this a couple of times. But one of the breweries. One of the first ones that emptied out their tanks to boil water to allow people to come by and get bottled water. Well, yeah, what a brilliant idea. I didn't even think about that. I didn't realize that. But guess what? Now, when we don't need it, we should sign agreements with these breweries and say, look, I'm going to put some funding aside. I'm going to fundraise now to have this kind of sitting there waiting for a rainy day that when this happens, all I have to do is call you and you know that your business is going to be taken care of because this funding is going to take care of you. You can empty out your your your beer tanks, start bottling water instead of beer, and then you're going to be made whole from from our from our funding to make sure that you can do this without necessarily sacrificing yourself. Just boom that's expected of you. You know that that's going to happen. So let's get ready for it.
[01:13:39] I think it's a great idea. I mean, you can we might as well rely on ourselves and not just totally on the government. Right? I mean, there's there's so many businesses and people in towns like having that extra layer of security. And also we can respond faster.
[01:13:50] We respond faster to truth be told, this is just going to be faster. I'm not you know, this is a totally different podcast for me to go rant and rave about, you know, rant about, you know, what what the government can or can't do at this point. Again, it's one of those things where we have the tendency to say. Surely somebody is going to do this and the answer is no, it's it's it was us. It is us, it's still us. So just do it. It's just, you know, like it again. It was somebody that I had hoped that somebody would take up the mantle and do it. And some of some people have. But we're all these little individual islands. And I think that there's an opportunity for us to put that together in a way. I mean, the water initiative that we did was this miraculous. This coming together of resources because of that, these are all people that I knew and we connected everybody, you know, it was a buddy of mine, EMT, who said that, look, I saw that you were doing something. I don't know exactly how I can help, but I have some funds that I can dedicate to helping you out. I had a water distribution, a water company that was, you know, Richard Rainwater with Taylor and and Katie that reached out to me and says, hey, you're the guy. What can we do? What can we do to help? And and they were like, well, we have this water. Can we figure out how we can get it to you? And then I was like, well, I need to find somebody who has a distribution network. And let me call my my boys, Julian and Chong over at Minamo. And they have a warehouse, as can we borrow your warehouse and your forklifts and and there they jumped at it and said, BOEM no problem, and then reached out to our community to get delivery drivers and, you know, easy. Tiger answered the call and got us a whole fleet of trucks of their trucks to go deliver water to people. And so, you know, within within 24 hours of happening, my business partner and one of my best friends, Paul, with 12 Rivers real estate guy, and I'm a restaurant guy, we got our first round with music water, like 11000 bottles that got through, you know, because, you know, Paul just took it upon our book, took it upon himself to shoulder that burden, got those first eleven thousand bottles out in the middle of cold. This was literally the day after the boil notice. And then within the next 24 hours, with all with connecting with Minamata and with these other with Richards and these people, we were able to get 150000 bottles of water in in 48 hours, you know, and into the hospitals, you know, days before FEMA got to them, you know. And so. Why don't we just put these people in place and say that, hey, when this happens again, be ready for us and then I can make sure that we're properly funded. We can make sure that everyone knows the kind of operating procedure that has happened. This is how it's going to go. This is going to go to Austin Mutual Aid because they know how to distribute. This is going to go to Austin needs water because they know how to get water to people. This is going to go to these people because the food bank needs knows how to give food to people or whatever it works, or these are the restaurants that are going to be serving food. So World Central Kitchen and good work. Austin can make sure that we these restaurants are going to get paid for the, you know, to take care of these meals for these people that are going hungry. All of this stuff can be planned because it's coming again. We're going to get another hurricane any time soon. I mean, shit, what does say, like the plague of locusts is probably going to be coming. I mean, it's the year of the 100 year cicada or whatever, like that's coming, right? I mean, it's not a joke. It's really going to happen. Who knows? You know, who knows what's going to happen. So why don't we prepare for it and. And again, as much as I had assumed or hoped that I think I think I there's probably a dozen or 100 people in the city that all shared my same sentiment going. Surely somebody is going to do it and then, well, maybe not so, you know, get at me. You want to be you know, if you want to help and you want to be a part of it. And let's let's let's just do it ourselves. Let's just go from there.
[01:17:40] So it's that kitchen on Instagram. Yeah. Everyone. But it's I'll put it on the show, Nancy.
[01:17:45] That's what I like when we talk about first adopter. As far as technology goes, I started with a two letter. Username was not allowed, so I just spelt out Cayston
[01:17:59] like, you're a little too early, too early.
[01:18:01] It was I was bummed out my first email address there. Like you cannot use you have to use at least three letters. And I was like, what? So, you know, but
[01:18:08] had thank you so much for coming in. I know.
[01:18:11] I mean, I really I really thank you for again, you know, for those of you don't know that I mean, just to reach out via Instagram kind of right in the middle when we were still doing relief efforts. And so, I mean, I appreciate the patience and come in and still wanting to talk about this, you know, after everything is kind of calmed down. So it's good. And, you know, I'm honored to talk about it anytime.
[01:18:33] Thank you.