Yesterday, Paul Qui spoke for the first time about his plans for upcoming restaurants in Austin as he prepared to serve a week's worth of pop-up dinners at CityGrit in New York City, but nobody seemed totally clear on exactly what restaurant went where, because Qui's got a lot of projects in the air right now—there's East Side King going brick-and-mortar, his official Paul Qui flagship, a revamped formerly-at-the-Grackle food truck and possibly
some kind of something at the iconic Hole In The Wall on the Drag. (Update! Eater Austin talked to Qui's girlfriend and media wrangler, Deana Saukam, who gives us the dish on the HITW gig, after the jump.)
· His South Lamar restaurant is an East Side King, and there's another in the works: "I'm opening a location on South Lamar and I'm also opening a location close to campus, the UT campus." More on this in a minute.
· His east side flagship restaurant will have two dining areas, a 50-seat room and a 12-seat room. Eater Austin guesses it's the old Italo's Pizza joint, especially since, as 512Foodie has cannily sleuthed out, building permits for the location are under an "ESK" project name. Says Qui: "I'm opening a restaurant on the east side of town that's going to be my flagship, I guess, restaurant, where I'm going to try to, I'm going to get to do whatever I want, hopefully, with the food. Or just to play more with the food. East Side King's also about playing with food and having a good time. This restaurant's going to be a little bit of a combination of both."
· The menu at the east side flagship is Asianish, maybe: "I'm still working on defining what it is I'm going to do at that spot. I definitely, I know what I don't want it to be. I don't want it to be, like, I don't want it to be, I don't necessarily want it to be a Japanese restaurant. Like, I don't want to say it's a kaiseki or a tapas place, or a tasting small plates restaurant. I have no idea how I'm going to try to define that yet."
· The east side flagship may be open by December, and of course, locavore something something. Says Qui: "Hopefully we'll get it open by December. The 50 seat menu is pretty close to finished. It's a lot of things from Texas or the surrounding Austin neighborhood, whether you say it's a Japanese restaurant, izakaya, I don't know, I don't have the right verbage for it. I haven't said anything about it. That's part of the reason I haven't said anything, because I don't know how to define it. It's going to be food sourced from around our area and I don't know, I'll let you guys define it."
· He's redoing or revamping the East Side King trailer at the Grackle: "Our Grackle trailer is going to reopen soon, that's under heavy construction, because actually I want to shake up the trailer scene a little bit and give Austin something even a little bit more different than the current East Side King."
· The next location of the East Side King will have something to do with Hole In The Wall, the iconic Guadalupe Street bar, restaurant and music venue by the University of Texas. It's not clear whether he'll be taking over the HITW kitchen or parking an East Side King trailer there: "And the other surprise I forgot to mention that I guess I might reveal is we might be going into Hole In The Wall. For me Hole In The Wall is an Austin institution. If you went to school at UT in the last, I don't know, 40 years, there's a there's a chance that you probably stumbled into that bar at some point." He goes on: "It's an Austin institution and I think I'd like to be a part of that, and I'd like East Side King to be an Austin institution as well."
Update! Deana Saukam, Qui's girlfriend and media wrangler, confirms that the Hole In The Wall gig is East Side King "taking over the kitchen, brick and mortar style."