The counter-service restaurant will serve a daytime menu that will include Japanese dishes such as okonomiyaki and egg sandwiches (thick slices of white bread with egg salad filling). Behind Tiny Diner is chef Domonic Candy.
Tiny Diner will operate in Native’s cafe, sharing a space with coffee shop Idlewild, which opened in April. The coffee company manager Jared Amburned asked Candy if he was interested in operating the kitchen space. “I knew I could do whatever I wanted,” Candy writes to Eater, “but also still wanted to highlight what was important to me through what I’ve learned being in this ever-changing city.”
“I love Japanese food and its appreciation for craftsmanship,” Candy explains. “I hope my food shows that appreciation.” The Indiana-born chef worked in a bunch of lauded Austin restaurants, including Odd Duck, Daruma Ramen, Micklethwait Craft Meats, Dee Dee, and Otoko. Most recently, he had been the sous chef at Olamaie.
During the daytime, Tiny Diner will serve its Japanese comfort food menu. And then, during the evenings, Candy wants to give over the space to local chefs for pop-ups. Of the latter, he writes to Eater: “I always wanted to have a spot where I could cook with my friends and family.” To that avail, he wants to host “up-and-coming chefs and cooks in town,” as he describes.
The Native originally opened as a hostel with a restaurant and bar space in 2017. Due to the pandemic, it shifted to an only-business model, turning its rooms into various shops and restaurants. This includes omakase spot Toshokan, which opened in March.
Update, September 6, 4:15 p.m.: This article, originally published on August 23, has been updated to reflect Tiny Diner’s new opening date.