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Austin Restaurateur and Co-Founder of Tex-Mex Chain Chuy’s Mike Young Dies at 74

The hardworking Texan died of pancreatic cancer on Friday

A restaurant sign outside of a building with the words Chuy’s Fine Tex Mex.
Chuy’s originated in Austin.
Moment Editorial/Getty Images
Erin Russell is associate editor of Eater Austin, a native Austinite, and a big fan of carbs.

Austin restaurateur Mike Young, who co-founded Tex-Mex chain Chuy’s, now-closed restaurant Shady Grove, and other Austin dining establishments, died on Friday, August 11 at the age of 74.

Young spent his childhood working at his parents’ motor hotel in Harlingen, Texas. He opened his first Austin restaurant, Mike and Charlie’s, when he was 24 years old. After opening more restaurants, he partnered with John Zapp and opened Chuy’s in 1982, taking over an abandoned barbecue restaurant in Austin’s Zilker neighborhood. The pair also worked together on Southwestern restaurant Shady Grove, which opened in 1992 and closed in 2020, on the same Barton Springs road. They partnered with Duffy Oyster to open Hawaiian/Tex-Mex restaurant Hula Hut in 1993 and sold their portion of the business in 2009.

Young and Zapp sold the majority of Chuy’s to a private equity firm in 2006, the restaurant expanded outside of Texas in 2009, and the company went public in 2012. Young retired from the board in 2017 (Zapp stepped down in 2018 following an assault family violence charge).

Young was a bachelor until the age of 53 when he married Diana Zantedeschi. He is survived by Zantedeschi and their two daughters, Emily Maria Young and Grace Marie Young.

Per the Statesman obituary, donations in Mike Young’s name can be made to Give Kids the World Village, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, and MD Anderson Cancer Center.


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