Austin startup transforms restaurants into affordable coworking spaces

Ever eat dinner at a swanky restaurant and think, “I wish I could stay forever?” Thanks to ambitious Austin startup, you might soon get the chance.

On August 20, University of Texas at Austin alums Siri Chakka and Silva Gentchev are launching a new company that hopes to disrupt the coworking industry by making use of underutilized space. Instead of buying out existing office buildings, Reset transforms dinner-only restaurants into temporary workplaces, adding a source of extra income for cash-strapped restaurateurs and providing an affordable option for mobile employees shut out by the high prices of more traditional options.

“The idea for Reset started percolating when I realized there was really no alternative to my apartment or a coffee shop,” says Gentchev in a release. “I ended up going a bit stir-crazy working out of my apartment, but couldn’t justify the hundreds of dollars a month a coworking space cost without a corporate stipend.” 

Gentchev and Chakka landed on the idea of adapting eateries after examining persistent problems within the Austin hospitality industry and finding some disheartening statistics. Due to pressures like labor shortages, rising property taxes, and increasing rents, over 50 local restaurants closed in 2016, a number that jumped to 70 in 2017. The rate seems to have accelerated in 2018. As of June, the number is hovering around 50.

According to Reset, restaurants can alleviate some costs of doing business by using what they already have. “Restaurants have all the furniture and infrastructure needed to make a work space, and dinner-only restaurants have open spaces during the day that are typically un-utilized,” says Chakka in a release.

The partnership is a boon for workers, too. Drop-in daily rates run $10 — around the same as buying two cups of coffee a day — and a 10-day pass is available for $80. Unlimited passes are also available for $150 per month.

Restaurants, however, will not be required to contribute what amounts to another full service. Reset covers the expected amenities like ample outlets and bottomless coffee, and each location is allowed to add to that as they see fit. For example, East Austin’s Tillery Kitchen & Bar is opting for a limited lunch menu and tea service, but other locations may choose not to provide anything.

West Austin’s Nightcap will become the first restaurant to offer the service beginning on August 20. In September, Tillery and Mueller neighborhood Italian restaurant L’Oca d’Oro will join the network. Chakka tell CultureMap the company will continue developing the concept in Austin before possibly expanding to select neighborhoods in Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio, and outside of Texas to cities like Detroit, Nashville, and Portland. Those interested in giving the service a shot can sign-up here.

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