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Exclusive: Olamaie chef-owner bringing new chophouse to South Congress Hotel

Matthew Odam
Austin 360

South Congress Hotel is about to get an infusion of culinary energy.

Olamaie chef-owner Michael Fojtasek and his MaieB Hospitality team have teamed with New Waterloo to open Maie Day, an American chophouse, in the boutique hotel on South Congress Avenue. 

The restaurant, which finds New Waterloo partnering with a big-name chef outside its team for the first time at one of its properties, will take the place of Central Standard, the hotel’s opening flagship restaurant, which closes permanently Saturday. 

Mae Day — the name riffing on both Olamaie and the ancient spring festival May Day — opens May 1. It will serve as a playful take on a classic steakhouse.

Maie Day is intended as a colorful and playful take on the steakhoue genre.

The menu from Fojtasek, who has been making one of the city’s best steaks for years at Southern restaurant Olamaie near Judges Hill, will include appetizers like smoked fish dip and cold shaved prime rib and entrees of grilled whole fish, grass-fed rib-eye and prime rib served with sides of scalloped potatoes, grilled green beans, creamed corn and more. 

Fojtasek, a self-acknowledged “beef guy” who’s had a love affair with steakhouses since his childhood (Lawry’s The Prime Rib and Bob’s Steak & Chop House in Dallas were family staples) and who can rattle off personal favorites from across the country (Mastro’s Steakhouse, Keens Steakhouse in New York City, Durant’s in Phoenix), knows that traditional steakhouses aren’t for everyone. 

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“Those places I love, they’re not for everyone. For some folks, they’re too dark or too plodding,” Fojtasek tells the American-Statesman. “Often times, frankly, they don’t execute at a certain level.”

The chef behind the critically acclaimed Olamaie says he hopes to bring the chophouse concept more in line with who he is as a person and chef. 

“We’re going to do a chophouse for everyone. The colors are going to be bright. The drinks will be fun and offer new-school concepts like CBD. I want everyone to feel comfortable coming to Maie Day. Steakhouses don’t have to be just for people like me. The whole idea for the place is a party for everyone. It’s named Maie Day on purpose.”

Maie Day won’t be the first time the Texas chef has teamed with New Waterloo. Fojtasek, a longtime regular of Butler Pitch & Putt, is the chef partner at the nine-hole course that New Waterloo helped renovate last year. He says the New Waterloo leadership team's attention to detail on that project left him with no doubt that they would be willing to “get in the trenches” with him and “do the hard work” at the hotel’s new restaurant. 

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New Waterloo partner Bart Knaggs said that when his team thought about who to partner with on the new restaurant, Fojtasek was the immediate answer. 

“To experience the food of a chef as talented as Michael is inspiring. To see he's got the heart of a lion is inspiring at a whole other level,” Knaggs said in a statement. “I know he can cook, but I'm more excited about his ambition to do it all the right way, for the right reasons. Culinary excellence is the necessary element; cultural leadership is the compelling one. Michael has both — that's the kind of person you want to be around.”