If you've dined at Swift's Attic, you've likely met owner C.K. Chin, a striking figure often dressed in a suit with his dark hair pulled back. Throughout the evening, Chin often makes the rounds through dining room, meeting guests, refilling water and inquiring about meals. It's a true labor of love — in more ways than one.
It all began as a joke. During construction on the swanky (and superb) Congress Avenue spot, an investor in Swift's stopped by to check on the progress. Bogged down with opening a restaurant and having no time to actually get a haircut, Chin had thrown is shaggy locks into a small top knot. The investor made a joke about his bun, and Chin countered by crafting a tall tale. "I told him that it was a Chinese tradition that if I owe money, I can't cut my hair [until the debt is repaid]," Chin laughs. "And he was like,'"Really?' I said, 'No. But come to think of it, it would be cool.'"
And so Chin stopped cutting his hair. For two years, it grew longer, a physical manifestation of a debt that he was reminded of every time he looked in a mirror. "I think it's an interesting thing, it's an ongoing metaphor," says Chin. "It keeps me focused and I'm grateful for that."
In May, a little more than two years after Swift's opened, Chin wrote his last check. With the last of investors paid off, Chin turned to the task at hand: cutting his hair. With Electra Avellan, John Fitch and Swift's cheese purveyor Joaquin Avalon there to document it in the video (featured above), Chef Mat Clouser did the hair cutting honors, chopping off nearly 9 inches. Chin donated his hair to Children With Hair Loss, a nonprofit dedicated to providing free wigs for children who have lost their hair due to a medical condition.
But don't expect Chin to have short hair for very long. "I'm going to keep it going as I open these new places," says Chin. With his highly anticipated new restaurant Wu Chow set to open later this year, Chin will have a whole new round of investors to pay off. "If you see me with hair down to my waist, you know things aren't going well," he adds, laughing.