#PeopleOfWilmDE: Tom Austin

Tom Austin is the Managing Director/General Manager F&B at The Quoin Hotel + Restaurant, and is this week’s #PeopleOfWilmDE! Read his story below.

“I was born and raised in Wilmington, and our family moved to Richmond when I was in high school before returning while in college. I met my wife here 23 years ago, and have always considered Wilmington home. Our hospitality careers took us to Philadelphia, where my wife and I both worked for Stephen Starr for many years. I worked myself up through the ranks, starting as a young server at one of the premier restaurants in Philadelphia, Barclay Prime. From there, I went on to become GM and eventually a Director of Restaurants for Stephen, overseeing eight properties in both Philadelphia and Atlantic City at the time. After 14 years, I furthered my career by joining the Schulson Collective restaurant group as the Director of Hospitality. A very exciting group of restaurants in the city that was and is expanding rapidly, working for Michael Schulson taught me a lot about what I am great at, in a very dynamic and fast-moving environment.

Now, five years later, I couldn’t be more excited for the next chapter. Joining MethodCo Hospitality and being fortunate to have a new gem so close to home is a dream. It is an exciting, fast-growing company and The Quoin is really something special….both to Wilmington, the state, and the surrounding metropolitans. I believe this property rivals some of the greats in Philadelphia and New York, and the feedback we have been receiving has been amazing.

Three interesting facts about me are:

1. Despite being involved in hospitality, and easily conversational within the walls of my business, I am not a fan of public speaking. In fact, I dread it.  

2. I am a passionate advocate for the teams that I have led throughout my career.  My mentality when leading is one of support, as I believe the business does best when you nurture that feeling of support, both in words and actions.

3. I served in the United States Air Force as a Counter Intelligence Operator in the Electronic Security Command.  I held a Top Secret Clearance and traveled all over the United States. Crazily, this was the first time in my life I had ever been off the east coast.  Apparently, despite my adventurous spirit, I was not much of an adventurer in my youth!

I love the outdoors. Days off are typically spent exploring the area parks and trails with my wife, daughter, and dog, or going for drives in the rolling hills that surround Wilmington. Rockwood Park gets a lot of our footsteps, as does Alapocas Run State Park. When it comes to events, we always try to make it to the Ice Cream Festival and the Arden Fair when schedules permit.

My ideal night or weekend out in Wilmington absolutely involves my wife and daughter. Whatever we get into, it’s always more enjoyable for me with them. We love to go to Trolley Square Oyster House for happy hour as a family, or Maker’s Alley on a nice day. We are big fans of Snuff Mill (their lunch is our fave), Bardea Food & Drink for a bite at one of the bar high tops, and sushi is a staple in our house, either eating in or taking out. We love family time at home as well, and enjoying a beverage from Swigg or FranksWine is a regular. Occasionally we do wander farther, and love to drive the rolling hills that surround Wilmington. It’s sooo pretty in this area of the country and it’s not unusual to find ourselves pulled over at the Whip Tavern for a bite. We like their beer selection too!

After years of commuting to Philadelphia, seeing Wilmington’s exciting growth has helped me re-evaluate what’s important to me. I love being closer to my family and home more often. I love and thrive being out of the inner-city bustle and grime of working in Philadelphia. That city has changed a lot for me post covid, and working in restaurants you see and experience it first hand. My move to Wilmington has given me a new perspective and passion for the business that I enjoy. I am very fortunate and excited to be involved with such a caliber of a property as The Quoin Hotel + Restaurant on my own doorstep. I love that Conde Nast Traveler noted Wilmington on the list of top 23 places to visit in 2023.  It’s exciting to be a part of, and all of the properties mentioned (and many many more) deserve praise and recognition for the value they are bringing to the city.

I love Wilmington for the region itself. It is situated within a beautiful area of the US and is affordable while providing easy access to cities far bigger. To be able to live somewhere that is within a couple of hour drive to NY, DC, Philly, Baltimore, the beach and the mountains can’t be beat. The fact that Wilmington continues to grow and expand culturally and culinarily is just a start to the re-blossoming of the city. 

I’m really looking forward to Shipley Street being completed. Between the new residential and commercial properties that are on the horizon, it is going to bring a lot of life to the city that will continue to benefit all.

I am looking forward to the continued resurgence of the downtown district. New businesses, restaurants, and housing will continue to bring people and breathe life into the city again. I’d love to see the expansion of green trails that work their way into the city and bike share and programs to aid in healthy commuting for the residents. I love Downtown Visions and the work they do to help keep our city attractive. That team, and the city police and safety presence are the biggest difference to me from when working in Philadelphia, and their work will continue to benefit all.

My advice to Wilmingtonians is this: Enjoy the resurgence. The bond formed by seeing a city come together and offer hope and opportunity to all is an important part of the build and fabric that unites us all. Venture out. Discover something new each week. And support our local businesses.”

You can connect with Tom on LinkedIn. Be sure to follow the Quoin Hotel on Facebook and Instagram.

To nominate next week’s #PeopleOfWilmDE, email us at info@wilmtoday.com. Read more #PeopleOfWilmDE posts here. Follow us on InstagramFacebookTwitterYouTube, and TikTok.

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