When Antonio and Tanika Echols moved from Chicago to Austin a year ago, they had no plans to open a restaurant.

Then, opportunity came knocking. The Echolses jumped at the chance to purchase a location within The Shops at Volente, and by February of this year, the couple was serving up comfort food out of Whip My Soul.

A longtime heating and air conditioning technician, Antonio said it beats working “on your roof in 120-degree heat, trying to fix your AC.”

“Sometimes things come knocking at your door, and it was a business opportunity that made sense,” Antonio said. “We didn’t pick this place; it picked us.”

Antonio said he has been enjoying Tanika’s cooking since the pair first met in 2000. So when it came time to construct a menu for their new restaurant, it was obvious to the Echolses that they would be serving soul food and that Tanika would be running the kitchen.

The restaurant hangs its apron on a menu of classic, Southern-style cuisine, such as chicken and waffles, pork chops, oxtails, fried okra, shrimp and grits, and sweet glazed yams. For a soulful take on egg rolls, the chef has replaced the dish’s traditional fillings with collard greens, or mac and cheese with shrimp. Deemed the Soul Egg Rolls, they have become so popular that Antonio said he cannot keep enough of them in stock.

“This is [my wife’s] art,” he said. “We just bought a restaurant to display her art.”

Tanika has been cooking since she was 16 years old. Tanika said she is no stranger to preparing “big meals for big people and big families.”

“I’m the go-to house for meals, for barbecues, for Christmas, for Thanksgiving and for all the holidays,” she said. “So it wasn’t hard to get in here and come up with something.”

The family has owned restaurants and bakeries in the past. In their new venture at Whip My Soul, they have relied mainly on word-of-mouth advertising. Now, patrons will find a packed house during the weekends, Antonio said, adding that customers appreciate the extra care each meal receives.“There’s a huge difference between a fast-food restaurant and a soul food restaurant,” he said. “The main difference is each dish is made individually. Your food is going to be hot and fresh.”

Whip My Soul

11416 N. RM 620, Stes. F and G, Austin



Hours: Tue.-Sun. 11 a.m.-9 p.m., closed Mon.