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Innovative restaurant concepts: an interview with the owner of Austin Terrier

Owner of the Austin Terrier in Austin Texas, James Durnil, talks about the future of healthier food options in the restaurant business.


James Durnil is the owner of Austin Terrier in Austin, Texas.  This isn’t your typical restaurant.   Austin Terrier serves gourmet sandwiches, fresh salads, specialty pizzas, craft beer and wine as well as desserts.  Everything is prepared using local, fresh ingredients.  It sounds pretty typical so far, but what makes them unique is the experience – Austin Terrier pays homage to man’s best friend – our dogs.

The transition between Mr. Durnil’s previous career and opening his own restaurant was a little bit longer than you might imagine. It took a year and a half away from his previous job to plan and start the restaurant, find a location, etc. He'd been planning the restaurant for several years, but it was not until he quit his job that he was able to focus on finding locations, finding new concepts, and pretty much putting the core infrastructure in place.

“I would think the two biggest skills I had that I was able to glean from my previous jobs were the ability to multi-task across different work streams. So being able to manage the financial part of it, the marketing/advertising activities, the human resources requirements, and then dealing and managing with all my suppliers, being able to manage different work streams at one time was invaluable, and it continues to be today. I think also the ability to have a strong organizational structure of the business. Being able to have everything kind of in a manner by which you can manage effectively and keep it organized, not just for yourself, but also for your staff and all those that contribute to the overall business”, tells Durnil.

Durnil believes strongly that diners choosing healthier options isn’t just a fad; it’s a long-term trend that is here to stay.  Organic food is an important part of the trend.  The challenge of course is pricing.  The use of organic ingredients increases preparation costs significantly which means consumers have to pay high prices.  Will they keep doing that long term?  It really depends on your local market and understanding their preferences.  It’s good to keep an eye on national trends, but dining out is a local experience.

“I think [it’s important to know] the constituencies in your area and within the three quarter mile radius of the location of your restaurant; knowing who they are, who some of your community leaders are, and making them believe in your product, in your concept, and what you're providing to the neighborhood, or to the area of the city [is key]. 

To learn more about innovative restaurant concepts and to network with professionals from the food and beverage industry visit the 16th Annual Americas Food and Beverage Show being held in Miami Beach on September 24th and 25th.  Visit Register in advance for special discounts.

“I think [it’s important to know] the constituencies in your area and within the three quarter mile radius of the location of your restaurant."
Tags: Austin Terrier, Organic Foods, Gourmet Foods