When owners Jessie Katz and Andy Means opened the long-awaited Hank’s in East Austin, we were thrilled, elated even, when we found out it was kid-friendly with a drive-thru option (every parents dream). Every corner of the restaurant is bright, modern, and instagram-worthy. We see many nights spent on this patio drinking one of their many cocktails, frozen palomas and frose on tap anyone? Read on to learn more about the inspiration behind the warm and modern design led by a primarily female design team, how this husband and wife team balance work and relationship, and what’s next for Hank’s. Photos by Wynn Myers
Tell us a bit about yourself and your husband.
Andy and I have been together for over 7 years now and really are partners in life and in work. When we first met, he was just about to open Henri’s, a great wine and cheese shop on South Lamar, and I was working as a wardrobe stylist in the film industry. Overtime, he pulled me in to help out with the restaurant, and we’ve been working as a team ever since. Most recently, we’ve spent the last couple years working on Hank’s, a new restaurant, bar and coffee shop that just opened in Windsor Park in April!
Tell us about Hank’s namesake?
Andy’s grandfather’s birth name was Henri, but everyone called him Hank. He is kind of a legend in the family and he was a big influence in Andy’s life. He threw the best parties, loved entertaining, and always had a well stocked bar.
You came from a background in wardrobe. How did you make the transition from costume department to restauranteur?
I’ve always pursued creative lines of work and see a lot of fluidity from one medium to another. After several years of working on films, I was ready for a career shift and had gradually started helping Andy out at Henri’s. As my interest in design and aesthetics evolved, so did my insight into the restaurant industry, and everything unfolded from there. When Henri’s was shuttered in 2016 due to a fire, we tried to make the best of a devastating situation. We had been toying with the idea of opening a second restaurant for years, and the universe directed us there in the end! For me the opportunity to create a concept from scratch, to be involved in every business and design decision, and to watch it come together in the end was a dream come true and an immense amount of work.
Tell us about the design inspiration behind Hank’s.
One of my best friends, Claire Zinnecker, designed the space. We wanted guests to feel transported when they walked in — like they had discovered a little oasis they could escape to that was conveniently just around the corner from their home!
You had a powerhouse of women behind the design of Hank’s. Was this intentional?
It wasn’t intentional, but I am thrilled it turned out that way. These amazing women just happened to be the best for the job. We had design work by Chelsea Fullerton Jones, Emma Brooks, Melina Sweet, and Lauren Cunningham, logo and lettering by Mia Carameros and Sarah Wymer, illustration by Rebecca Clarke, sign painting by Norma Jeanne Maloney, and interior design by Claire Zinnecker.
Let’s chat working with the hubs. How did you know working together was a good fit?
Andy and I have been working on projects together since the early days of our relationship. Whether it was managing Henri’s, renovating our house, planning our wedding or opening Hank’s — there was never a question of whether we should work together, we just always have. Our individual strengths complement each other and we have a way of approaching everything as a team. That’s not to say we don’t have differing opinions sometimes though. Both of us can be very strong-willed.
How did you decide what roles you would each take on?
At Hank’s, Andy primarily heads back of house and I run the front of house. That distinction happened naturally based on our respective skills and interests, as he comes from a kitchen background, and I come from a design background. But the more we continue to learn from each other and understand each other’s perspectives, the more overlap there tends to be. When it came to Hank’s, we both were at the table for every business meeting, providing equal input, and pushing ourselves to create something that really was a shared vision.
How do you balance your work relationship and personal relationship?
Truthfully — we don’t. Balance has always been elusive to us, but it’s not even in our vocabulary these days. We’re working tirelessly to make Hank’s the best it can be, and that requires us to make a lot of trade-offs right now. Social engagements, quality sleep, and down time are not really in the stars for us at at the moment. We’re learning to find the harmony amidst the chaos though and are hopeful that we’ll eventually get it right in the long run.
What are the pros and cons of working with your husband?
I love working and creating with Andy. We get to spend our days learning from each other and sharing in a project that we’re equally passionate about. There’s never any question of where our priorities lie or whether we want the same thing for our future. We’re getting to build it together. We probably encourage each other to work more than we should and we definitely don’t have balance, as I mentioned — but I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
What can we expect and/or look forward to from Hank’s?
A warm welcome. A place to gather with your family and friends. Great food and drinks at reasonable prices.