New owners focus on old-school service at classic North Austin deli

From left: Raymond and Cindy Choi took over Garden Spot Cafe in August 2016. Nicole Crow joined the team shortly thereafter, and Richard Ellis has been cooking at the deli since 2001. (Iain Oldman/Community Impact Newspaper)
From left: Raymond and Cindy Choi took over Garden Spot Cafe in August 2016. Nicole Crow joined the team shortly thereafter, and Richard Ellis has been cooking at the deli since 2001. (Iain Oldman/Community Impact Newspaper)

From left: Raymond and Cindy Choi took over Garden Spot Cafe in August 2016. Nicole Crow joined the team shortly thereafter, and Richard Ellis has been cooking at the deli since 2001. (Iain Oldman/Community Impact Newspaper)

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Ciabatta sandwich ($5.99) Breakfast options were added to the menu when the Chois bought the eatery in 2016. All of the new breakfast items are served on fresh bread delivered daily. (Iain Oldman/Community Impact Newspaper)
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Grilled chicken avocado salad ($9.69) Cindy included salads to Garden Spot Cafe’s menu from a desire to offer healthier options for customers, she said. (Iain Oldman/Community Impact Newspaper)
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Hot Italian meatball sub ($6.99) Everything on the menu is made from scratch with quality ingredients, the Chois said, including the deli’s meatballs. (Iain Oldman/Community Impact Newspaper)
After more than two decades of service, Garden Spot Cafe owners Raymond and Cindy Choi decided the old deli could use something new: breakfast.

The restaurant has not changed much since it opened in 1982, the staff said, even throughout four different sets of owners.

But Raymond and Cindy added new elements to the small deli immediately after buying and assuming control in August 2016, including a breakfast menu and a full coffee bar.

The restaurant previously was only open during lunch hours, so the Chois extended the hours at Garden Spot Cafe to include its breakfast offerings. The new breakfast menu features sandwiches on ciabatta bread and croissants, and Garden Spot Cafe offers a full line of espresso bar drinks, including lattes, macchiatos and frappes.

“I like coffee a lot; that’s why I started it,” Cindy said. “Now, we’ve got everything.”


The Chois did not touch the lunch menu, which includes quality ingredients such as hot pastrami sandwiches and hand-seasoned and grilled chicken salads. Soups are also made fresh daily.

“Not much has changed since the original owners,” said head cook Richard Ellis, who has worked at the deli since 2001. “The food sells itself.”

Ellis said the original owner was a New Jersey transplant, and the restaurant is a reflection of the intimate deli counter-style cafes commonly found in cities on the East Coast.

“I fix everything like I’m making it for my mom,” Ellis said.

The Chois and Ellis said Garden Spot’s dedication to customer service has earned the deli a steady crop of customers who return on a daily basis.

“We know a lot of [our customers] by name. They know they can get what they want when they come in here,” Ellis said. “We make sure our customers are well taken care of.”

Garden Spot Cafe

9415 Burnet Road, Ste. 106, Austin

512-835-1985

www.gardenspotcafe.com

Hours: Mon.-Fri. 6:30 a.m.-4 p.m., closed Sat.-Sun.
By Iain Oldman
Iain Oldman joined Community Impact Newspaper in 2017 after spending two years in Pittsburgh, Pa., where he covered Pittsburgh City Council. His byline has appeared in PublicSource, WESA-FM and Scranton-Times Tribune. Iain worked as the reporter for Community Impact Newspaper's flagship Round Rock/Pflugerville/Hutto edition and is now working as the editor for the Northwest Austin edition.


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