The Frisco, the last remaining location of Austin’s Night Hawk diner chain, is closing in Brentwood. Its last day of service on 6801 Burnet Road will be on Sunday, July 29.
Frisco’s shutter is because of “changing demographics, increasing competition, and an already tight labor market,” according to a statement by co-owners R. Harry and Julia Akin.
The original Night Hawk was founded by Harry Akin, a former mayor of Austin, in 1931, on Congress Avenue and Riverside Drive, with 15 cent burgers. He opened a second location on Guadalupe in 1933 with Night Hawk #2, and the late-hours, mid-century diner chain expanded with locations in San Antonio and Burnet Road (which became the Frisco shop). He also opened steakhouses within Austin, San Antonio, and Houston.
Under Harry Akin, the diner chain was known being one of the first Austin restaurants to break segregation barriers by welcoming and serving black people. He also empowered women and minorities in the restaurant business (One of those people included Hoover’s Cooking owner and chef Hoover Alexander, whose first job was at Night Hawk.)
Harry Akin died in 1976. His wife Lela Jane Akin took over the companies, and several restaurants shuttered, including #2 in 1980. The original restaurant had to close for over two years in 1985 after a fire destroyed the building, and it had to permanently shutter after that. Former Frisco manager Lawrence Baker and Harry’s nephew R. Harry Akin bought the Burnet restaurant in 1994.