Chef Shawn Cirkiel chose a site rich with family history for his next restaurant. His new tapas project Bullfight will occupy the same property where his grandfather once owned a service station. Eater previously reported that permits had been filed for the restaurant; the chef confirms the move in a lengthy profile by The Statesman.
Eater spoke with Cirkiel about Bullfight, which he says will be inspired by the food and culture of southern Spain. "The restaurant is emotional on a lot of levels," he says. "This is the first piece of property my grandfather bought after World War II. He used to fix cars here on the gravel. My first fine dining job was at a five-star tapas restaurant. And I escape to Spain once or twice a year."
Cirkiel sees ample parallels between Texas and southern Spain, from the heat to the slow pace of life. "My wife jokes I take a vacation to Texas every year." The look of the restaurant will evoke the region with white stucco, brick floors, and orange trees, designed by Cirkiel's frequent collaborator Maija Kreishman at Michael Hsu Office of Architecture. While Bullfight will serve some traditional Spanish tapas, Cirkiel doesn't intend to strictly re-create the cuisine. "Ultimately, we source our vegetables from here, our meat is from here. That's what so great about food in America - we're unencumbered by tradition."
Bullfight will be Cirkiel's fifth restaurant in Austin; he says he's an accidental empire-builder. "You work hard, and opportunities appear. I never have a plan." The Airport Boulevard strip is booming with restaurant development, but Cirkiel says his choice of the location has nothing to do with the neighborhood's hotspot status, or a desire to expand for expansion's sake. He grew up nearby, and says he actually intended to open the restaurant years earlier, until the opportunity at The Radisson came up. "I've been going to Mrs. Johnson's Bakery since I was four years old."
Bullfight will break ground in the first half of September, and Cirkiel hopes to be open by April of 2015. Cirkiel's other restaurants include Parkside, pizzeria The Backspace, Olive & June, and Chavez at The Raddison.
· Chef Shawn Cirkiel Puts It All Together [Statesman]
· All Shawn Cirkiel Coverage [EATX]