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Shawn Cirkiel Talks His New Restaurant, Chavez

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Photo: Michael Hsu Office of Architecture

The Statesman reports that Shawn Cirkiel's new restaurant in the Radisson has a name: Chavez. Architect Michael Hsu's renderings have also been released, and the restaurant now has a website. Per the press release, the space will feature "oversized windows with views of Lady Bird Lake" and design elements inspired by "Mesoamerican textiles."

Eater recently spoke with Cirkiel about the project, which he says is not a hotel restaurant but "one of our restaurants in a hotel." He interprets the southwestern concept as featuring food that captures "what it means to be from Austin and Texas." He chose to work with the Radisson because the former TGI Friday's restaurant was a "cool space," and his success with parkside in the unlikely location of Dirty Sixth means that he "looks at things a little differently." The full interview is below.

chavez2.jpg[Photo: Michael Hsu Office of Architecture]

How did this project first come together?
After SXSW in 2012, [The Radisson] reached out everybody in town who had restaurants. I worked in hotels a long time ago, and it was a different opportunity in a different space. When we opened parkside, nobody was downtown. There was no Second Bar + Kitchen, it was right around when La Condesa was opening, and otherwise it was Lambert's. It was an odd thing, especially where we are on 6th Street. We were the only beacon on that end.

We looked at things differently than our friends and peers. This was an opportunity to do another restaurant in a cool space right on the lake downtown, in city that I'm from and that I love. We're not doing a hotel restaurant, but one of our restaurants in a hotel.

What are the challenges of working within the larger ecosystem of a hotel?
Ironically, it hasn't been as difficult as I thought. We were given a lot of flexibility to always be ourselves. For us, it's been about what are we going to build, and that's how the hotel has approached it too. They wanted one of our restaurants versus hiring a chef to cook.

How do you see your restaurant fitting into the larger hotel dining scene in Austin?
We want to be a very inclusive restaurant. It's fun to dress up and spend money, and it's also fun to go out and have good food and oysters. The hotel has great value for their rooms, and it's a beautiful spot. We don't need to do $50 entrees. We can play with what we want and keep the price point reasonable for downtown.

What's the origin of the southwestern concept?
Growing up in Texas, it's culturally who I am. As a kid, I drove across northern Mexico in station wagon with parents. If you were traveling through Texas, you'd have a plate of biscuits and plate of tortillas. That's culturally what it means to be from here. If you come to my house, there's salsa, simple grilled meats and fish, little snacks and bites. I love tequila, and for kids we do agua frescas. I'm doing what it means to be from Austin and Texas.

How do you see yourself using local sourcing within the context of a hotel?
We've been at forefront of of using local farms and ranches and using it in quantities that make sense. We'll make a commitment to whatever a farmer can grow. It's fun to utilize things for specials, but we've been focused on buying in quantity. We don't ever pretend everything will come from Austin, but we do make a commitment of using it as much as we can.
· Shawn Cirkiel's Restaurant at the Radisson Announces Name, Releases Rendering [Statesman]
· chavez [Official]
· All Shawn Cirkiel Coverage [EATX]

Chavez

111 E Cesar Chavez St Austin, TX 78701

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