“We lay an emphasis on quality; everything we do here—from our customer service, to food, cocktails and beer selection—we give everything a tremendous amount of thought,” said Harris, owner of Turnstile on Burnet Road next to Q2 Stadium.
Harris moved to Austin from Seattle in 1993 and opened a downtown espresso shop before switching careers to Texas Monthly, starting in circulation and working his way up to being vice president and general manager. After 22 years, he then came back to the hospitality industry.
Harris opened Turnstile at a previous Sonic location in March 2020 with an inside bar and an outside patio with seating. He held the grand opening in September 2020 after shutdowns due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. He bought Gringa’s Tacos next door in March 2021 and converted it to Turnstile’s kitchen and drive-thru with an expanded full-day menu.
Harris brought in Chef Chris Howard, who was working at a number of restaurants, to manage Turnstile’s upscale menu, featuring espresso and breakfast tacos in the morning, and burgers, chicken and salads in the evening. The restaurant’s diverse offerings throughout the day inspired the name Turnstile, Harris said.
Being near Q2 Stadium, Harris sees a big crowd on game days. They set up an additional bar counter outside and keep the walk-up window open for customers who start filing in two to three hours before the match, Harris said.
The neighborhood feel is a big draw even though the restaurant and tap room stand close to The Domain, he said.
“We still feel like we’re in our infancy, and I think we haven’t even met our potential in terms of what we can do in our offerings,” he said.