We had the good fortune of connecting with Christopher Haydostian and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Christopher, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
Starting R19 Taqueria was not an easy decision. Especially since I had just had to come to the realization of needing to close my first restaurant, Reunion 19. The process started with Reunion 19. I had just opened my first full-service restaurant a month before the hit of Covid-19 (Feb 2020) and the pandemic. Although I was able to weather the storm for 18-months, it was clear a new direction needed to be taken and society had adjusted because of the pandemic. That meant I needed to either give up on my dream or find a way to adapt into a new world where covid was just going to be relevant and find a way to survive in it.

Knowing I had a solid concept for food and a following wanting it, I needed to develop a program where it was more covid resilient and a self-sustaining business. This meant looking at what the new “norm” was and finding a way to fit into it. That new fit was R19 Taqueria, my fast casual version of Reunion 19. Where Reunion 19 was a full-service sit-down restaurant, every time covid would spike or hit, nobody would want to dine in/out, and the business was too expensive to staff and operate. QSR (quick serve restaurant) models of restaurants were doing well during the pandemic. In fact, they were increasing in business. That was the direction I saw and needed to jump into.

Jumping into the creation of R19 Taqueria also meant I need to make sure this risk was the right move. Losing everything already meant I needed to go into massive debt to try and pull it off. This meant LOTS of talks with my wife and the impact to our family. Those talks ultimately lead me to seek guidance from my church bishop. For me to pull this off, I felt I needed heavenly support. My bishop was not just my spiritual counselor, but he himself was a very successful businessman and entrepreneur. After some lengthy discussions, prayer was my focus and all signs pointed to the obvious: make it happen! So, after a few months of talks between my lawyer and landlord, longs days/nights working on the space with my chef, I flipped a 2nd generation space and opened our doors with nothing but a dream and lots of prayers. I am now entering my second official month of business and am still holding tight to my dream along with continuous prayers.

What should our readers know about your business?
R19 Taqueria is my Cali-Mex quick serve restaurant concept. Being one of the many California transplants to Texas, I ended up missing some of the familiar Mexican food I had grown to love. That being tacos, burritos, & loaded fries. Yes, there are tons of restaurants in Texas that have each of those items, but I found none to have the specific style and flavor I had grown to love in Cali. That led me to have the crazy idea of making a restaurant specifically for the food I was missing. I figured, if I was missing it, there must be others who are as well. At the same time, if my style of food didn’t exist, perhaps others would be introduced to something new and unique. Hence the birth of R19 Taqueria.

The birth of R19 Taqueria came off the heels of my original restaurant Reunion 19. At Reunion 19, we served the same style of food as R19 Taqueria. Being a newcomer in the taco scene in Austin and Texas even, we ended up gaining some great accolades. One of our tacos made the cover of the first ever Taco-Pedia issue for Texas Monthly and was one of 83 restaurants featured in the state of Texas for having one of the best tacos. And one of only 16 restaurants in Austin to be featured and selected. Even more blessed, was our selection for creating one of the best dishes in the state of Texas for 2020, featuring one of my tacos. With these and other recognitions from various others, it proved that our food met a need and found some appreciating mouths.

Unfortunately, because of covid, consumers adjusted their eating out styles and Reunion 19 was not able to make it. But the dream still lives on in R19 Taqueria. I still focus on Cali-Mex roots and have adapted to the current eating habits that is quickly becoming the “norm.” R19 Taqueria keeps a small and concise menu to help facilitate a quick serve feel. The fact is, we are a restaurant quality program using advanced chef/cooking techniques in a fast serve pace. Everything in the restaurant is made from fresh whole ingredients, focusing on being local and sustainable as much as possible. I hope that everyone that eats at R19 Taqueria will realize we are about quality and not quantity. Because of this business concept, we occasionally do not have some of our dishes. This usually happens when we can’t get product from our vendors (due to growing issues or other natural disasters) or if the product does not meet our strict quality standards. I would much rather not offer a dish to uphold our quality versus taking in sub-par product to try and make a buck. R19 Taqueria stands behind quality and freshness while providing a fun and inviting space for everyone to enjoy.

Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Whenever I have guests visit, there are always the “classic” go-tos to take people. That includes: several BBQ restaurants. San Antonio for the riverwalk and Alamo, Lake Travis, and tons of other restaurants.

Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
There are SO MANY people who I’d love to shoutout and owe who has turned me into the person I am today. But one person has been there from day 1 and is always my biggest cheerleader. She is my wife, Angelica. It is because of her, I followed my passion to leave my corporate job and pursue my path to become a chef. She followed me across the country as I was working my way up in the ranks of the industry and sacrificing her dreams in the pursuit of my own. Because of my wife, I was supported to follow my dream of going after my first restaurant. Even more crazy, was her support of me putting everything, and then some, on the line to do it all over again for my second business right after my first failed. When I am down, she is always there to pick me up and when I have any doubt, she quickly beats it out of me. I am forever grateful for her continued support, guidance, and unwavering positivity in all that I set out to do.

Website: www.R19Taqueria.com

Instagram: @RTechChef, @R19Taqueria

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/christopherhaydostian/

Yelp: https://www.yelp.com/biz/r19-taqueria-austin-3

Image Credits
@R19 Taqueria

Nominate Someone: ShoutoutDFW is built on recommendations and shoutouts from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.