Austin restaurant offers customers a different meal

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Two years after opening the aptly named Quench, Quentin Love’s West Side restaurant is still going strong with its focus on healthy eating amid an abundance of fast-food eateries.

Just one of a handful of sit-down restaurants in Austin, Quench, at 5815 W. Madison St., serves neither beef nor pork.

“No restaurants in the area catered to a transitional diet” – which Love describes as being between a red meat diet and vegetarianism.

The restaurant’s menu features tacos, fajitas, quesadillas,  burritos and tamales all made with selections of turkey, chicken or fish. Other options include signature pastas, vegetarian and veggie selections, with many meals priced at $10 or below.

Growing up in a low-income, predominantly African-American neighborhood near the South Side’s Greater Grand Crossing area, Love aspired to build a business that would keep black money in the community.

“I wanted to create a business that would uplift the community, and one should always be passionate about his people and culture,” he says.

He owns or co-owns nine other Chicago restaurants – all part of the I Love Food Group. Since opening his first restaurant on the South Side nearly a decade ago, Love’s eateries have been featured in local media outlets, including Time Out Chicago , Metromix and the Austin Weekly News.

With four employees at its Austin location, Love believes in Quench’s positive impact on residents of the community.

“Everybody at the Quench location in Austin is full time. We don’t have any part-time employees at the moment,” says Marissa Terry, operations manager for the entire Quench network and Love’s sister.

“I think he’s changed a lot of people’s views about the way they eat. A lot of people weren’t into turkey and didn’t think it tasted as flavorful as pork does, but I think a lot of people are converting over now,” Terry says.

Ray Easley, vice president of the NAACP’s Westside Chicago chapter and a 40-year Austin resident, said his family eats at Quench “once a week faithfully in one fashion or another.”

“I like that it’s an alternative to fast food, beef and pork. Quench gives you that restaurant experience to a limited extent,” Easley says.

Easley said Quench is smaller than MacArthur’s, a popular soul food restaurant just down the street at 5412 W. Madison St. that opened in 1997. But Quench is striving to do all it can with the space it has.

“Quench has good customer service. It’s just its smaller than MacArthur’s, and a lot of things go on in that little small area,” he says. “It’s in an area space of a store front; they make the best with what they got.”

Malcolm Crawford, co-owner of Sankofa Cultural Arts  & Business Center and executive director of the Austin African American Business Networking Assocation, is another regular.

“Quench brings healthy choices to the Austin community. The customer service is good, and I feel like they have it together,” says Crawford, whose favorite dish is the cobb salad with chicken.

Terry says the goal for Quench is “expand into other states, save more jobs and just change the lifestyle of how people eat, so they can live longer.”

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