Night Hawk Alumni

There was a time in the city of Austin when having a Night Hawk job on your résumé commanded respect and insured employment at hotels, restaurants, and country clubs around Central Texas. It would be impossible to track all the "graduates" of Harry Akin's highly regarded in-house cooking, butchering, and management training programs, but here are the names of a few locals who parlayed their top quality Night Hawk training into further business success.

Giles Spillar: One of the first, if not the first, Night Hawk employee, Spillar was with the company for more than 30 years, eventually becoming vice-president of Night Hawk Foods Inc. Along with Harry Akin, he was an early member of both the Texas and Austin Restaurant Associations and was a pillar of the TRA for many years after leaving Night Hawk. Mr. Spillar passed away last fall.

Lee Buslett: From a part-time position at the San Antonio Night Hawk Steakhouse, Lee Buslett worked his way up to the executive level in his 12-year tenure with the company. He left in 1968 to form a partnership that purchased Green Pastures and opened the Tres Amigos restaurants.

Gerald Stone: Stone was Harry Akin's stepson-in-law and spent much of his early restaurant career with the Night Hawks. He is now a partner in the three El Mercados and Vinny's Italian Restaurant.

Gordon Fowler: Artist and chile mix scion Fowler lied about his age to get into the Night Hawk training program in the early Sixties. When drafted to serve in Vietnam, he was unable to parlay his restaurant experience into an army cook's job and came home a decorated veteran. He ran his family's Two Alarm Chile Company for several years and was the original operator of La Zona Rosa.

Lawrence Baker: Baker started his career at the Frisco Shop as a busboy and dishwasher in 1958, working his way through the various in-house training programs to become manager there in 1967. After a transfer downtown to No. 1, Baker left the company for a few years, taking management positions with Dan's Hamburgers. He purchased the Frisco Shop with partner R. Harry Akin, the founder's nephew, in 1994.

Hoover Alexander: Recruited to work for Night Hawk by his stepfather, the Rev. Robert Winston (longtime chef at the Steakhouse at 290 & I-35), Alexander worked just about every job in the front and back of the house in his many years with the organization. He is now owner of Hoover's Cooking, where there is certainly nothing accidental about the quality of his food.

Vernon O'Rourke: After "graduation" from the Night Hawk organization, Vernon owns K-Bob's Steakhouses and Bubba's Ice House in Round Rock and Corpus Christi and is Hoover Alexander's partner in Hoover's Cooking.

Tom Thompkins: This Austinite started his food-service career as a Night Hawk busboy/dishwasher and ultimately became one of the top cooks in the company. After working as a chef in the Los Angeles area, Thompkins returned to Central Texas as the executive chef at the Omni Hotel San Antonio.

C-Boy Parks: For years, C-Boy ran the kitchen at Night Hawk No. 2 on the Drag, famous for his pies and biscuits. While Lubbock pickers had Stubb's for sustenance, the late, great C-Boy was the culinary patron saint of Austin blues musicians with his soulful cooking at the old Rome Inn.

Toni Price: This local songstress supported her early career waiting tables at the Frisco Shop, where they still remember her fondly.

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