Ellis and Austin Winstanley of Tradelogic are the tastemakers behind The Tavern, Cain and Abel’s, Hill’s Café and El Arroyo.
By Andy East, Photo by Rudy Arocha
“Our grandfather had his own business and our father had his own business. We grew up in [an entrepreneurial environment],” says Ellis Winstanley, CEO of Tradelogic Corporation. “Our father built army bases in Vietnam and later had a software company. He even took us overseas on business trips.”
“In fact, we were 5 or 6 years old when we traveled overseas to Europe for our first business trip,” recounts Austin Winstanley, president and CTO of Tradelogic Corporation. “We had our little jack ets and Mickey Mouse belts.”
“When we were about 10, our dad asked if we wanted a new bedroom. We said yes and he said, ‘Well, you’re building it yourself,’ ” continues Ellis. “After school and football practice, we would work. He paid us and we kept our own timesheets.”
By the time they were 17 years old, they had finished the bedroom, but growing up in such a business-oriented environment would catapult the duo in to many dynamic business ventures. Just a few years later, in 2001, the Winstanley brothers, then sophomores at the University of Texas at Austin, bought Star Seeds Café on North I-35, which, at the time, was losing $5,000 per month. Within a few months, the café was profitable, and the Winstanleys were just getting started.
The following year, the Winstanleys bought Cain and Abel’s, and brought it out of the red. During the next several years, they salvaged several ailing businesses, including Hills Café last year, and have expanded their business portfolio in to construction, software and much more.
“We like old brands,” says Ellis. “Our youngest brand is Abel’s and it’s 33 years old. Our oldest is The Tavern, which turns 80 [this month]. We like building things that are there for the long haul.”
When asked about working with their twin brother, Ellis and Austin say they wouldn’t have it any other way.
“We grew up together. Being twins, you’ve got someone you can always trust,” says Austin. “Ellis focuses more on business processes and I work on technology and software systems. We complement each other.”
Some of the Winstanleys’ new business ventures include expanding the Cain and Abel’s brand with Abel’s on the Lake and the recently opened 25,000-square-foot Abel’s North. Next month, the Winstanleys will relaunch Artz Rib House on South Lamar as Abel’s Rib House.
“It’s always a new challenge. It’s fun to grow the business,” says Austin. “The problems get bigger and the challenges get harder.”
“We like building things. We’re pretty opportunistic,” adds Ellis. “We are always looking for opportunities to work on good projects with good people.”
Upcoming: South by Southwest Interactive 2014
At South By Southwest Interactive in 2013, the Winstanleys previewed a demo of Asset Management Software, a program designed to facilitate the organizational and administrative aspects of the graphic-arts profession. The Winstanleys will be back at South By Southwest Interactive in 2014 to showcase the full product.