Austin, TX’s Wild Chix & Waffles

by Garrett Fleming

Austin, TX's Wild Chix & Waffles, Design*Sponge

The interior of Austin, TX’s Wild Chix & Waffles, the café Wendy Wu owns, represents all of the European, Asian and North American design styles Wendy loves most. The look is casual, laid-back and uncomplicated. At least now it is. The process of infusing the fried chicken joint with this global charm wasn’t quite as easy as she had hoped when she first set out to open shop. In fact, after running the numbers on a few of the decorative elements Wendy wanted to implement, some initially seemed downright impossible to pull off.

Instead of compromising her creative vision for the southern-style café, Wendy decided to take on some of the more artistic elements herself. Over the course of a year she hand-painted a collage of American artists above the register, installed a traditional Japanese tatami den for kids to lounge in, and even gave the space some Parisian flair. The last of which, also painted by Wendy, comes courtesy of a larger-than-life mural of a demure girl enjoying a cup of coffee.

If you had asked Wendy on day one of the project if this much of the restaurant’s style would be brought to life by her own hand, she’d have emphatically replied, “No!” Looking back, though, she says taking the reins has taught her an extremely vital lesson: To stop underestimating herself. Wendy tells us, “I learned that as long [as] you put your heart into something you really love, anything is possible. Even things that you never thought you would be able to do.” Scroll down to check out all of the hard work Wendy has done to make her life’s dream a reality. Enjoy! —Garrett

Photography by Jessica Attie

Austin, TX's Wild Chix & Waffles, Design*Sponge

Wendy poses in front of a giant wall mural she painted. It’s one of the many personal touches her cafe boasts and was inspired by an Alice in Wonderland painting she came across.

Austin, TX's Wild Chix & Waffles, Design*Sponge

The design of the restaurant started with these charming swings by Growler Domestics’ Jordan Goetz. Wendy chose them because in her world, good design “actually makes [people] smile or laugh.”


As long [as] you put your heart into something you really love, anything is possible. Even things that you never thought you would be able to do.

Austin, TX's Wild Chix & Waffles, Design*Sponge

Wendy is most proud of the “overall vibe of the space.” She says, “I love seeing the expression of customers when they first walk in the door because they aren’t expecting what they see.”

Austin, TX's Wild Chix & Waffles, Design*Sponge

The mural depicting “baristas, artists, singers, actors, designers, etc.” was also done by Wendy. It overlooks furniture by Nadeau.

Austin, TX's Wild Chix & Waffles, Design*Sponge

The captivating tree chandelier is by LA’s Amanda Hall and Selenia Rios.

Austin, TX's Wild Chix & Waffles, Design*Sponge

This elevated “pillow den” is modeled after Japanese tatami mats, traditional flooring made of rice straw and wood chips. After receiving quotes that were out of her price range, Wendy ended up building this one herself.

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  • The mural of the girl with the tea cup is from a very interesting image of Alice in Wonderland. In the original photo Alice holds a cup and, in the other hand, a small saucer on which stands a little Alice holding a cup and so on…I wish I could attach the original photo here.

      • No. I found the image when I was working on a play where Alice was a character. I really wish I could attach it here. It’s one of the most imaginative interpretations I’ve seen – like a story that keeps generating other connected stories. I don’t know the name of the artist, unfortunately…

  • The murals are amazing, as is the entire place. I’d love some tips from Wendy on how to do a mural for a kids’ room. Very inspiring

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