Everyone loves a comeback.
Antonio Swad, founder of iconic American chains like Wingstop and Pizza Patrón, knows this. After selling Wingstop in 2003 and Pizza Patrón in 2017, he started his newest concept, Porch Swing, back on his home turf and opening sometime early this summer. At 3855 W. Emporium Circle in Mesquite — right across the street from a Wingstop he built — Swad is back in the game.
“I’ve been in this industry [since I was 15],” Swad says. “That’s not to say I still can’t screw it up, because I sure can, but that’s what I like about the restaurant business, because there’s so many ways to fail and I’ve already discovered most of them. So I think I’ve got a real good shot here.”
Decades of experience in the restaurant industry and marketing are coming to a head with Porch Swing. A small menu specializes in seven proteins and a rotating selection of classic Southern sides like mashed potatoes, collard greens, biscuits and others based on seasonal availability.
“I’d rather have fewer items that we get right 100 percent of the time rather than having 25 items we get right half the time,” Swad says. “You could have a full restaurant, and if you can’t get good food to the table in an expedient manner, then you don’t have much of a system, and I’m a very process-oriented as well as brand-oriented restaurateur.”
Swad doesn’t want people to be deterred by the upscale look of the restaurant. To him, it’s just a comfortable place for a good meal, a nice drink and live entertainment.
“The word ‘upscale’ is a bit scary and off-putting to some,” Swad says. “I hope it’s not regarded as that. What we are working on here is a really interesting comfortable concept for Mesquite.”
The restaurant also will include a full bar with simple signature cocktails, some frozen drinks (according to Swad, a frozen Jack and Coke and a frozen moonshine lemonade) and bottled beer. Swad plans to add late nights with live music until 1 a.m., a catering arm and an in-house pie shop. The pie shop includes a separate entrance for pie and to-go orders, a display case and a hydraulic pie crust press.
“We’re gonna operate a pretty serious pie bakery,” Swad says. “What makes pie shells tough is that people over work it, the flour develops a protein — gluten — which makes the pie tough, not flaky, and hopefully we can avoid that with a hydraulic press.”
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Swad’s is known for running large operations, but not this time. There are no other priorities, no trigger-happy investors to try to force an opening and no major financial pressures. This old industry veteran is building his own dream, a sanctuary to relaxation, a gastronomical temple to the art of Southern hospitality.
“If you don’t have a hard date [for an opening] people think you don’t know what you’re doing,” Swad said. “If that’s in July, it’s in July. If that’s mid-August, it’s mid-August. I’m not going to open one minute before I feel we’re ready to … deliver some great food and a great experience … I’m not in this business because I want to rock in a rocking chair. I wanna go. I’m gonna rock, but in a different way. I’m gonna rock this industry.”
No one can tell you when, but when Antonio Swad opens Porch Swing this summer, head on over. Grab a cold longneck on one of the large swings out front, order some fried chicken and enjoy the cool breeze and the live music.
Porch Swing, 3855 W. Emporium Circle, Mesquite