"Chef Roy" reflects on the changes he's seen in Austin

Roy Mallett has seen Austin's food and social scene change right before his eyes.The 81-year-old still works at an iconic Austin restaurant, putting smiles on customer's faces.

On any given Monday through Thursday, you can catch chef Roy Mallett whipping up a master "feast" in the Frisco restaurant kitchen.

“Everything is fresh, from scratch,” he said.

Chef Roy started as a busboy at the original Night Hawk restaurant in 1955.

“From there I was a dishwasher, then assistant chef. He would move on to become chef. When the original night hawk shut down, Mallett stayed in the family, and relocated to The Frisco on Burnet Road. Customers often come in asking for him. He keeps smiles on customers' faces with his pies, salads and other home cooked food, made with love.

“That's why they keep me here because they want the original stuff,” he said jokingly.

Mallet, affectionately known as Mr. Roy grew up at a time when segregation was rampant, but the owner of night hawk, Harry Akin, treated him like gold.

“He wanted to call you by your first name. To me that seems like....not a 'boy.' Back in those days that was plentiful,” he said.

The lively 81-year-old still lives in his East Austin home he and his wife shared since 1971. He lost his wife   Margaret in 2004.

“I like to come to work because staying at home the whole day.....it just gives me something to do,” he said.

Mallett comes to work each morning at 6:00 sharp. He tends to leave a mark on all those around him.

“When I first came here at the number one on riverside and Congress in 1986, he taught me how to make pies and all the little stuff when he was chef, Tina Coak, general manager, said.

Whether you live in North, South, East, or West Austin, frequent customers agree, stopping to see Chef Roy is indeed a treat.

“He loves cooking food because it makes people smile, which makes him smile,” Coak said.

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