east austin Organic goodies
Happy Hobo: Organic goodies on both sides of the track
For nearly a year now, the team of Flint Fancy, Sarah Somera and Joe Engot has been trying to build their dream of a grocery slash café on the east side of Austin, The Happy Hobo Cafe.
The venture has seen Fancy, Somera and Engot waging an uphill battle, working their way through the blindingly red tape of permits and planning committees. But their diligence has been paying off; even though Happy Hobo is not officially open, it has already made itself a valued part of the east Austin community by hosting veggie swaps, community events and snacks for a song.
We sat down with Fancy--and had a delicious organic taco--to talk about where Happy Hobo's space stands, where their vision is going and what they are trying to add to east Austin.
Leah Moss: What is Happy Hobo Cafe? What do you imagine it to be?
Flint Fancy: Currently, Happy Hobo Co-op Cafe and Grocer is functioning as a community space with specialty drinks and delicious locally made food. We host community events as well as cater. We imagine it to continue to offer these same things but be a fully functioning, local-centric grocery and market.
LM: Who are you guys?
FF: We are three long-time east Austin residents who all share a vision of accessible local produce and groceries in east Austin. The Happy Hobo name was initially a vision of Flint Fancy who has been doing food creation in Austin for nearly a decade. It started as a small food trailer on E. 6th and quickly transformed into the Happy Hobo Grocery vision. The logo, website, and hobo character design are all a part of the mastermind of Snarko!, wife of HHCC&G co-founder, Joe Egnot.
LM: Who were you before Happy Hobo?
FF: Sarah Somera has been an activist, volunteer at Inside Books, kayak slinger at Zilker for a dozen years, mother, co-op supporter, traveler and experienced server all over Austin. Joe Egnot is an artist, accordion player for WinoVino, gardener, writer and formerly had a long grocery stint with Wheatsville Co-op. Flint Fancy is a mother, traveler, drummer for WinoVino, activist, herbalist, former long-time kitchen monkey at the E. 5th location of Cafe Mundi, and is the owner of Crepes of Fancy Catering, and Austin's Best Soup.
LM: When will you be officially open for business?
FF: We do not have a projected open date, however will continue to function as a community space holding farmer's markets, artist markets and serving food and drinks by donation until the official opening. We also rent our rooms and space for parties and meetings.
LM: What will you be offering the east Austin community?
FF: We will be offering locally produced and grown produce and groceries as well as a space that is family-friendly and community oriented. We envision a work-place that is both democratic and relaxed. We welcome all input from the surrounding neighbors, community members, and business owners as to what they would like to have in our space as well.
LM: Why open on the east side?
FF: East Austin is starved for accessible items that are locally grown, organic, and healthy. Residents of this area desire these things and are forced to leave their neighborhood to acquire them. Being in East Austin will allow our neighbors to walk, bike or travel less distance to get the things they need, from us!
LM: If you had a million dollars and everything you wanted was approved, what would you do?
FF: Dream city... If we had some substantial investors… in other words "a million dollars," we would purchase the empty lot nearby and build gardens on our neighboring plot and offer jobs to herbalists and farmers, craftspeople and artisans, to create a sustainable community hub that empowers the neighborhood and supports itself from within. Other funds would be distributed to hire grant writers to gain agricultural grants to obtain local goods and offer them at a reasonable cost to the community.
LM: How can people be a part of the co-op, and what do you need still?
FF: Anyone can volunteer by contacting us at firstname.lastname@example.org tell us your skills and availability! Donate! at www.happyhobo.snarko.com. We need extra hands, ideas and investors. Your time and input is very valuable. Why should they help? A co-op takes a lot of work! Working at the foundation of this great and necessary project will ensure it's success. The more help and funds we can get, the quicker we can open.
LM: What is your favorite part of east Austin?
FF: East Austin has so many special qualities. Businesses like the Green and White Grocery and Boggy Creek Farm are what makes east Austin special and unique. We love our neighborhood farmer's markets, ice cream bicycle operators, parks, non-profits and small businesses. What can we say, east Austin is a Mecca of community-oriented, artistically driven folks who share the same vision as us. What's not to like about east Austin?
LM: If Happy Hobo had a tag line, what would it be?
FF: Happiness on all sides of the tracks.
There are high hopes for this space and the east side community is very excited about their grand opening. Until that fateful day, we can all still enjoy their organic meals for just a donation and some encouraging words of support. Hours are currently a little flexible, but they are open most mornings. Come down and be a part of something amazing before it gets its wings.
Located at the corner of Webberville and Northwestern.