Meet the woman-led team behind innovative restaurant The Dirdie Birdie.
By Janaye Barabin. Photos by Consumable Content
Located in The Domain, The Dirdie Birdie is a woman-led immersive indoor mini-golf restaurant and bar. Co-owner Lina Khasat, Culinary Manager and Chef Allison Hugunin and General Manager Dana O’Donnell work together to ensure that each guest at The Dirdie Birdie has a special experience.
Khasat recalls how she developed the idea for the space. “Simply put, the concept of The Dirdie Birdie was created by adding together a few of our favorite activities: great food, drinks and fun and interactive experiences.” It was important for her to do something different, something that would set her apart from other restaurants in Austin. “There’s no shortage of great places to eat and drink in Austin,” she says, “but we wanted to create a memorable and fun experience to tie in to our curated food and beverage program as well.”
Chef Hugunin, who joined The Dirdie Birdie in August, explains why she was eager to be a part of the team. “I was excited that the menu had a fun combination of crowd-pleasing classics such as chicken tenders and the Bird’s Nest, but also allowed space for more refined items like our tuna crudo and our braised short rib,” she says. “My background includes both fine dining and fast casual, so that mixture really jumped out at me. Also, there’s literally a putt-putt course in the middle of the space! How much fun is that?” She goes on to reveal her goals for the restaurant. “From a culinary perspective, I hope to create a consistent experience where customers are surprised by the quality of food and service they receive every time they visit us. I want fresh, quality ingredients prepared well and to offer flavors that people are excited about.
The unique mini-golf course is an homage to Austin, and each hole is based on a different iconic part of the city. O’Donnell remembers how she felt when she visited the space during its construction. “I was immediately captivated by the potential of the space, even though the course was only partially completed, and the dining room and bar were yet to be set up.”
The art installations are a large part of what makes the restaurant stand out. “As a proud native Austinite, playing putt-putt has been a cherished part of my upbringing, making this opportunity feel remarkably nostalgic,” O’Donnell continues. “Hearing their vision and goals for the place resonated with me deeply. It was at that moment I knew this was the perfect place to advance my career. The incorporation of each hole dedicated to different parts of Austin adds an extra layer of significance, evoking memories from my past and creating a truly special connection for me.”
When Khasat began developing the idea, she hoped that her guests would share O’Donnell’s experience. Instead of putting herself in a box, she created something that was fun and innovative, something she hoped people could connect to. “The Dirdie Birdie name is meant to be vague enough to be a restaurant, bar or mini-golf venue but specific enough to be all three,” she says. “We wanted to evolve the classic game of mini-golf past the usual and expected with immersive spaces, surprises and behind-the-scenes technology. It almost feels like you’re playing the game through an art gallery at times. We hope it sparks lots of smiles, laughs, curiosity and conversation as you make your way through the space.”
For the women at The Dirdie Birdie, the customer experience is their main priority. “We’re super focused on delivering the best possible experience on all facets and have made great progress in our first year in business thanks to our great team and feedback from our incredible guests,” O’Donnell emphasizes. “That being said, requests are coming in hot around more locations, and we just may have to visit that idea soon.”