Sawyer & Co.: New Orleans Inspired Fare In A Sleek Mid-Century Setting
New Orleans-inspired fare in a sleek mid-century setting.
Sawyer & Co., the latest addition to the emerging dining strip of East Cesar Chavez, brings a New Orleans–inspired diner to Austin’s eclectic scene. The first restaurant from Lauren and Stephen Shallcross, owners of 2 Dine 4 Fine Catering and Swoop Events, Sawyer & Co. sprouted after their beloved fifties-era restaurant, Arkie’s Grill, closed its doors a few years ago. Soon after, the husband-and-wife team purchased the property, and the rest is history.
History, in fact, played a significant role in the inspiration for the project. The Shallcross team wanted to preserve Arkie’s soul, so they turned to designer Mickie Spencer, whose impressive résumé includes the East Side Show Room, the Garage Cocktail Bar, Hillside Farmacy, Swan Dive, and other local favorites. When it came to the interior design, the team decided to honor the restaurant’s history with a mid-century style.
“I always loved Arkie’s and I wanted to be respectful of the space—it was unique because it was almost unchanged from the fifties and that doesn’t exist in Austin,” Shallcross said. “I wanted to take a step back and preserve that without being kitschy and fake.”
As a result, the space feels authentically weathered, but balanced with a contemporary flair. Spencer’s design features relics from Arkie’s past, including the booths that are now used as patio seating, as well as new additions such as light fixtures that are themselves a work of art.
The only thing that might distract from the design is the aroma wafting from the kitchen. The menu from culinary team Happy Abdelbaki and Chris Chism includes all-day breakfasts, and Cajun-influenced comfort food for lunch and dinner, like crawfish etouffee and smothered pork chops with gravy. Other staples include authentic po’boys, with options like fried shrimp, fried oysters, or Creole catfish. The menu also boasts an impressive dessert selection, and if you happen upon a photo of the Chocolate Bourbon Pecan Pie on Sawyer & Co.’s Instagram feed, you won’t be able to turn down pastry chef Claudia Vidal’s creation.
Since opening in September, Sawyer & Co. has been slowly enhancing the experience with developments such as a full bar with signature cocktails on tap—a feature that Arkie’s never saw. Though it’s clear that the restaurant pays tribute to its predecessor, it’s even more apparent that Sawyer & Co. is well on its way to making a history of its own.
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