Hello Sweetie

Dessert shop expands to offer diners barbecue

With a small dining area and patio, Hello Sweetie might be overlooked by people as they drive past. However, the restaurant, located at the end of a small series of shops attached to a gas station at the corner of Austin Avenue and Leander Road, offers a bevy of sweet treats and barbecue.

Years of working in Austin with the Texas Lottery and attending festivals had given owner Al Shankle a glimpse at the food truck industry. After an injury made him leave his job, he decided to try his hand at owning his own business and open a food truck. However, the the constant loading and unloading became too much for his back, and he decided to open a brick-and-mortar location, he said.

With the help of two part-time employees, Shankle has been serving customers at Hello Sweetie since May 2012.

"If I had [a restaurant], I wanted something where it was warm and inviting," Shankle said of the restaurant's name. "When I came here, I started with shaved ice, ice cream and a few baked goods."

Shankle soon found he needed a few more options to draw people to the restaurant.

He saved money and eventually purchased a smoker from H-E-B. He taught himself how to barbecue by experimenting and began cooking brisket and pork to create the restaurant's sandwiches.

"It's totally unorthodox, the way that I do it," he said. "The rub that I put on it is a mustard base, and the ingredients [are slightly different than other barbecue restaurants], but that's what everybody seemed to really love."

Shankle added barbecue to the menu in October and has slowly been adding other items.

"I have to change as the market dictates or whatever I can afford to do," he said. "In my mind I have a million things that I want to do, but I have to pace myself. My mind is going crazy and my pocket is saying, 'No, no.' It will get there, but we're going slow."

Shankle added catering in August, and said he hopes to expand the restaurant into a larger space and possibly add another location in the future.

"This is one small location. I hope to have many more," Shankle said. "This is my start, it's not my ending."

Hello Sweetie, 2200 S. Austin Ave., Ste. 101, 512-869-3304, www.hellosweetietx.com, Hours: Mon.–Sat. 11 a.m.–8 p.m.