Longtime Austin chef Callie Speer, former proprietor of Downtown Austin diner Holy Roller, has a new home. She recently joined the Stiles team at the Switch in Dripping Springs, and we caught up with her to talk about the past, present, and future of one of Austin's finest.
"We closed Holy Roller during COVID [in late October 2020], and I was getting bored, you know? Restaurant people have such a hard time sitting still, and I did for a while. COVID was just tough Downtown. Everything closed: the bars, the hotels, the offices, everything. It was kind of a beatdown, and it got to the point where we made the smarter financial decision. Who would have ever thought that we'd have a global pandemic?"
"[The Stiles] had grown their company substantially, and just needed a few more hands on deck, [and] Shane and Catherine have been really great friends of mine for a long time now. We did a lot of stuff with them at Holy Roller, used their product on a brisket biscuit. They've been awesome teammates in that way, for a really long time. I remember saying to my fiancé [now husband], 'Man, I don't think I would ever go for anybody but them.' Then Shane called one day, and I was like, 'Yeah, man.' I was super grateful that he reached out, because I love them so much and have so much admiration for them as people, and just generally how they run their businesses. Catherine is one of the hardest workers in the business – it's crazy because she does so much for all three of their locations and does social media and does the BBQ Wife [cocktails] thing. It's bananas. She's got a really lovely sense of humor. Like I said, it was an easy yes.
"And it's very much a family-centric organization and they take care of their people. So, I was like, we could go out to Dripping Springs, stir up some fun."
"We [recently had] an anniversary [so we had] a Big Red birthday cake. [It was] vanilla cake soaked with Big Red and coated with vanilla frosting. I love trashy-ass desserts like that, [so] that's what I'm really excited about out here. I can do some shit. What's interesting was that I did the original dessert menu, like, three years ago when they opened, so it was kind of fun to do another one. To be completely honest, I don't think any of us knows exactly what I'm doing. I'm laughing and asking Shane what my job role is, and he doesn't know!
"I've never worked in a barbecue place before, but it's so interesting to me from that angle. Today, we went in with pans of coleslaw, like eight of them. We were out of coleslaw at 4pm – you have to make bathtubs full of the stuff! It's pretty impressive to see the amount of product that these guys put out. And it's a little grungy, a little trashy, so I can get on board with that. That's been fun. Shane always says that I'm the 'ambassador of fun.'"
"So it's an interesting thing for me, everyone's like, 'What are you going to do next?' and I'm like, 'I don't know.' Truthfully, I don't. We don't have many years until our daughter is out of the house, so it's this place of not knowing what you'd like to sign a 10-year lease on. We have five more years together, basically, until she goes off to college. It's like, what if we want to move to Colorado or sail around the world? Anything I do is so permanent. At minimum, you're signing a 10-year lease. It's really tough. I don't have anything I'm in love with enough to want to do that.
"It's like, if I don't know what I want to do, I fortunately have a skill set that allows me to go and help the people I care about get to where they want to be. And why not?"
The Switch, 166 Hargraves Ste. G-100, 512/212-7211. theswitchdripping.com.
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