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Community First

A 24-year-old Austin nonprofit serving the city’s unhoused community has announced an expansion of a master-planned neighborhood designed for individuals coming out of chronic homelessness.

Mobile Loaves & Fishes (MLF) was founded in Austin in 1998 and started the largest prepared feeding program for the homeless in Central Texas. They developed Community First! Village in northeast Travis County in 2015 to provide permanent housing and a supportive environment to the city’s homeless community.

Currently, the Village houses over 350 formerly homeless men and women on 51 acres of land. The first phase of the neighborhood features 100 RV/park homes and 130 micro-homes, while phase two brought the total property to over 500 homes. The expansion plan for the next two phases was first announced in April 2021.

Home designs for phases three and four of the Village are a collaboration between MLF and several Austin architecture firms, including Mark Odom Studio, which has worked alongside MLF to refine the site layout.

The 700 micro-homes for each new phase will range between 144 to 200 square feet with six custom floor plans. Five layouts will be single-floor, and one layout will have two floors. Each micro-home prototype will have a porch and is expected to “reflect and accommodate the different personality types of its inhabitants,” according to a press release.

“Mobile Loaves & Fishes has created something truly special at the Community First! Village. Everyone we worked with, from directors to neighbors, brought so much knowledge and experience to the table,” says Paul Holmes, project manager at Mark Odom Studio in the release. “We’re excited to see the community they built come to completion with phases three and four.”

MLF’s site design concept for the Village is known as the 14 “Neighborhoods of Knowingness,” where each “neighborhood” is a cluster of homes centered around shared common buildings, including outdoor kitchens, laundry areas, restrooms, and shower facilities. This was designed specifically for neighbors to get to know one another and develop a sense of community.

Infrastructure work on the 127-acre neighborhood expansion is expected to begin in early 2023, with move-ins projected for 2025. Once the neighborhood is fully developed, Community First! Village will have 1900 homes on 178 acres.

Daily Juice Facebook

Local fresh-squeezed juice shop closes after 20 years in Austin

Liquid Liquidation

Another homegrown Austin business is permanently closing this week. In a letter on their website, Daily Juice announced the pending closure of all locations. The shop's Westlake location is already closed, with its other three outposts to follow suit by Sunday, January 22.

Opened in 2003, the shop specializing in fresh-squeezed, cold pressed, never-processed juices would have reached two decades in business this year.

Citing the pandemic, rising food and labor costs, and high rent, Daily Juice thanked its Austin customers for all the support over the years:

"This really hurts," the letter reads. "We are so grateful to you all for supporting us through this journey ... We have been touched by your patronage, sharing of health journeys and passions for healing heads, hearts, and guts."

Customers can still visit any of the remaining three locations (3720 Far West Blvd. Ste 105; 8620 Burnet Road Suite 132; and 12921 Shops Pkwy) through Sunday for a final sip of their favorite juice, smoothie or acai bowl, or Daily Juice merch. Austinites can also collect larger mementos from Daily Juice through their restaurant equipment auction.

"If you’ve been thinking about a juice cleanse, now would be a good time to order one," the letter continues, also noting that customers can still redeem any Daily Juice gift cards, prepaid cleanses, or points through the weekend.

"We are sad to go, but hope we are leaving everybody a little healthier than when we found each other."

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How to celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr. Day in Austin

MLK Day

This Monday marks Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, and there are plenty of ways to join in celebrations of his life all day in Austin. Walk alongside other Austinites in an annual march, join a rally at the Capitol, or listen to a lecture from award-winning author and journalist Ta-Nehisi Coates at the Long Center.

As well as celebrating MLK's legacy, the Annual Community March uplifts diversity and multi-culturalism in Austin, inviting individuals, businesses, and non-profit organizations to march together in remembrance.

Kicking off at 9 am on Monday, January 16, the MLK Community March includes a short program at the MLK Statue on the University of Texas campus. The march will then move to the south steps of the Capitol for a rally before proceeding to the historic Huston-Tillotson University, where the MLK Community Festival will take place.

Organizers of the march and rally are asking participants to donate canned goods or non-perishable food items, which will support the Central Texas Food Bank. These gifts also honor Dr. King's legacy, who said: “True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar; it is not haphazard and superficial. It comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring.”

Donation receptacles will be available at The University of Texas and the Capitol while the march is in those locations. Receptacles will also be available at the MLK Community Festival at Huston-Tillotson University, which kicks off at 11:15 am and will last until 3:30 pm.

Capital Metro and The Austin Area Heritage Council are also offering participants a free Local Day pass to help spend more time celebrating Dr. Martin Luther King’s legacy and less time finding parking. You can get your free MLK DAY CapMetro day pass here, and follow these instructions on how to use it.

Free parking for the march, rally, and festival are also available at the following locations:

  • State’s Visitors Garage (12th & San Jacinto St.)
  • Kealing Middle School (1607 Pennsylvania Ave.)
  • Holy Cross Catholic Church (1610 E. 11th)
  • Blackshear Elementary (1712 E. 11th)
  • Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church (1206 E. 9th)
  • Mt. Olive Baptist Church (1800 E. 11th)

In the evening, head to the Long Center for a Conversation with Ta-Nehisi Coates. Coates has written for numerous publications over the years, including The New Yorker, The New York Times, The Atlantic, and more. As a reporter for The Atlantic, he penned several award-winning pieces, including the National Magazine Award-winning 2012 essay "Fear of a Black President" and the influential June 2014 essay "The Case For Reparations."

Coates is also the author of bestselling books The Beautiful Struggle, We Were Eight Years in Power, The Water Dancer, and Between the World and Me, which won the National Book Award in 2015 — the same year he received a MacArthur Fellowship.

Coates will speak at the Long Center on Monday, January 16, from 7:30 pm, and a range of tickets (starting at $29.50) are still available here.

Classical superstar Ludovico Einaudi brings first solo album in two decades to Austin this April

Key notes

While we were all making sourdough starters and following the latest Tik Tok trends during the pandemic, famed composer and classical pianist Ludovico Einaudi was working on his first solo album in 20 years. The result was Underwater, a 12-track album released in January 2022, which Austinites will get to hear live at Bass Concert Hall for one night only this April.

It's been four years since the acclaimed Italian artist — officially the most streamed classical artist of all time — last visited Austin, and he's been busy. Since 2019, he's composed the scores to films such as The Father (including tracks from his immensely popular 2019 release Seven Days Walking) and six-time Oscar-winner, Nomadland. He also released a compilation album Cinema, and a new podcast mini-series Experience: The Ludovico Einaudi Story, which features celebrated filmmakers including multiple award-winning actor and director Russel Crowe (Gladiator), Oscar-winning director Chloe Zhao (Nomadland), Academy Award winner Florian Zeller (The Father), and more.

According to a release, Underwater returns to the roots of his original sound, featuring 12 transcendent solo piano tracks each showcasing Einaudi’s "luminous, emotive, effortlessly lyrical, and supremely refined sound."

On the making of Underwater during the pandemic, Einaudi explains: “The music came naturally, more than ever before. I felt a sense of freedom to abandon myself and let the music flow differently. I didn’t have a filter between me and what came out of the piano; it felt very pure. The title Underwater is a metaphor—it is an expression of a very fluid dimension, without interference from outside.”

One of the most ubiquitous contemporary composers of the century, Einaudi will take the stage at Bass Concert Hall for one night only on Tuesday, April 4, at 8 pm. Tickets will go on sale beginning Friday, January 13, at 10 am, and Texas Inner Circle members can access pre-sale starting Thursday, January 12, at 10 am.

Head to texasperformingarts.org for tickets and more information on the show.



Central Austin arcade and milkshake shop closes later this month

Violet Crown

Another Austin classic is closing its doors on January 15.

The Violet Crown Clubhouse (VCC), located at 7100 Woodrow Avenue, is closing its doors for the final time on Sunday after being open for the last four years. VCC, which is situated in a former pharmacy that felt like a blast from the past when visitors walked through its doors, announced the news on its Instagram page.

"It has been a thrill being your neighborhood cruise director for the past 4 years, and you know we won’t be going out quietly!," the post on November 16, 2022, stated.

The owners went to further state that the clubhouse was being acquired by a business that would run a coffee shop, natural wine bar and bottle shop in place of the clubhouse.

The last week of events, which last until the silent disco party on January 15, include performances from local Austin artists in addition to the normal offerings of arcade games and milkshakes at the clubhouse.

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Read the full story and watch the video at KVUE.com.

Nonprofit leader receives keys to the city for serving Austinites experiencing homelessness

Keys to the City

In one of his final acts as Mayor of Austin last week, Mayor Steve Adler presented keys to the city to Jo Kathryn Quinn, President and CEO of Caritas of Austin.

Adler honored Quinn's outstanding work with people experiencing homelessness in a ceremony on January 6. The tradition dates back to medieval times, when walled cities were guarded heavily during the day and locked at night. Awarding an individual with a Key to the City is meant to confer trust and honor to the recipient, symbolizing their status as a trusted friend of the city's residents.

“There are thousands of people that deserve appreciation and thanks, I’m not sure before I was elected I fully appreciated the breadth and depth of [Homelessness as an] issue," Mayor Steve Adler said. "There are few people that rise above and take greater weight on their shoulders and for that reason, on behalf of a really grateful city, I present you, Jo Kathryn Quinn, a Key to the City.”

According to a release, Quinn has served as Caritas of Austin’s CEO and President since 2012, working tirelessly to serve thousands living in homelessness and facilitate their access to stable housing through Caritas of Austin’s proven approach to ending homelessness.

The mission at Caritas of Austin is to provide people with a stable place to call home so they can reach their full potential and contribute to the community. Apart from her leadership at Caritas, Quinn has over 30 years of nonprofit management experience, rallying community support for ending and preventing homelessness through her leadership of the Best Sings Source Plus (BSS+) Collaboration and Ending Community Homelessness Coalition (ECHO).

Community and board members, along with Caritas of Austin staff, were there to witness the ceremony at City Hall at 11 am on January 6, and Quinn acknowledged their support:

"This is about a whole team of people who across the city who are committed to ending homelessness,” she said. “I accept this key as a symbol of trust, and I accept it on behalf of everyone who’s played such a vital part in this work.”

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CultureMap Emails are Awesome

2 Austin suburbs cash in among the richest places in Texas for 2023

Where the 1 percent live

Central Texans wanting a glimpse into the lives of the 1 percent won't have to travel far to get a peek. Lakeway has been renamed the fifth richest place in Texas for 2023 in a recent study. Southlake, in the DFW, took the top spot, reprising its past success.

HomeSnacks.com has been ranking cities, neighborhoods, counties, and states across America for more than five years, using data from the Census Bureau, OpenStreetMaps, the FBI, and other sources. For this year's study, released January 18, the website compared 355 cities with populations of at least 5,000 people to determine where "the richest of the rich" live.

With a median income of $239,833, and an unemployment rate of just 2.2 percent, it's no surprise to see Southlake flashing cash around. HomeSnacks shows the median home price for Southlake at $697,000, but as of this writing, Realtor.com lists the city's median home price listing at $1.3 million.

Lakeway came in fifth, with a median home price of $481,900 and a median income of $142,566. Bee Cave, where the median income is $100,179, moved up four spots from 13th last year to ninth this year. Unfortunately, although both cost a pretty penny to stick around, neither made the site's Top 10 Best Places To Live In Texas, which several of the cities in other metro areas did, ostensibly getting more bang for their buck.

It appears that wealth is not only moving into Texas, but moving around, as well. Heath is up 8 spots from last year, breaking into the Top 10 at No. 7, followed by Highland Village at No. 8, up a huge 17 rankings.

Elsewhere in Texas ...

The Houston suburb of Bellaire came in at No. 2 with a whopping median income of $211,202 and other signifiers of affluence, moving up two spots from last year's rankings. Pearland, with a median income of $107,941 is the only other Houston-area city to rank in the top 20, squeaking in at number 20.

San Antonio's top spot was Alamo Heights. Ranked third, the area had a median income of $147,475 and an even lower unemployment rate than Southlake and Bellaire at 1.4 percent. The median home price on the list was similar to the cities that beat it, too, despite the very different income bracket, at $614,000. Bexar and Comal county cities Fair Oaks Ranch and Bulverde came in 16th and 17th. Median income in Fair Oaks Ranch is $127,917, while it's just $100,419 in Bulverde.

Dallas-Fort Worth suburbs dominated the list overall; a total of 13 cities in the area cashed in with a top-20 ranking. Lucas, a Collin County suburb with a population of 7,612 in the 2020 census, came in fourth, moving up from fifth place last year. With a poverty rate of just 1.1 percent and a median income of $159,563, the (comparatively) tiny little town is a haven for the well-heeled. Falling into the "more than comfortable" range are Coppell (No. 6), Heath (No. 7), and Highland Village (No. 8). HomeSnacks' 10th through 15th places are occupied by Keller, Royse City, Corinth, Krum, Rockwall, and Roanoke, in that order.

Texas' top 10 richest cities for 2023 are:

1. Southlake
2. Bellaire
3. Alamo Heights
4. Lucas
5. Lakeway
6. Coppell
7. Heath
8. Highland Village
9. Bee Cave
10. Keller

Visit HomeSnacks' website to see the top 100 richest cities in Texas, download the full list and rankings, or search to see where your city came in on the list.

Comedy heavyweights can't find the funny in racially-charged You People

Movie review

While the idea of systemic racism is a generally accepted fact in American society, a more indefinable concept is the cultural biases that people hold. It can be easy to spot someone who wears their racism on their sleeves, but sometimes a prejudice only reveals itself when someone is confronted with a world that is not their own.

This idea is attempted to be played for laughs in the new Netflix comedy You People. Ezra (Jonah Hill) is a 35-year-old stockbroker/aspiring podcaster who has yet to meet the right woman, much to the chagrin of his mother, Shelley (Julia Louis-Dreyfus). He has a meet-cute with Amira (Lauren London), a graphic designer, when he mistakes her car for an Uber.

While Ezra and Amira bond quickly over a number of shared likes, it’s the ingrained beliefs of their parents that threaten to stand in their way. Shelley and dad Arnold (David Duchovny) are a Jewish couple who either rely on Black stereotypes or go overboard in their attempts to relate to Amira. Meanwhile, Amira’s parents, Akbar (Eddie Murphy) and Fatima (Nia Long), want her to stay true to her Black Muslim roots, and do all they can to discourage the relationship.

Directed by Kenya Barris and written by Barris and Hill, the goal of the film – to shed a funny light on how awkward it can be when people of different races spend time in each other’s spaces – is clear, but the execution is sorely lacking.

The first mistake they make is that the film is almost exclusively focused on Ezra; while Amira gets a small introduction prior to meeting Ezra, there’s never a true exploration of who she is or what she wants outside of her relationship with him. Consequently, their bond is never believable; there appears to be little chemistry existing between the two, and any moments that might endear them to the audience are yada-yadaed for the sake of expediency.

The second is the strange way in which the film’s biggest star – Murphy – is withheld until 20-30 minutes into the movie, introduced in a lackadaisical way, and then given precious few opportunities to showcase his comic skills. Barris and Hill can never seem to find a great way to use the legendary comedian, giving him tepid scenarios that don’t come close to eliciting the big laughs for which he is known.

Ultimately, the film feels more like a series of barely-connected situations than a cohesive story. Any incisiveness that might come from putting the two racially- and religiously-disparate families together is lost because the filmmakers constantly jump from scene to scene in search of laughs. You’d think that Barris, who knows the value of establishing characters from sitcoms like Black-ish, would have figured out how to do that by now, but the film flails its way through its nearly two-hour running time.

Hill, as star, co-writer, and co-producer, is obviously the driving force behind the film, and he is given plenty of time to dole out his brand of comedy. London is likable enough, but we never get to know her character well enough to fully judge her performance. The wealth of talent on the supporting side – including Murphy, Louis-Dreyfus, Long, Duchovny, Sam Jay, Rhea Perlman, Molly Gordon, Deon Cole, Andrea Savage, Elliott Gould, and Mike Epps – is mostly wasted.

Finding comedy in race relations has been done many times in movies and on TV, and can be a winner if done properly. The story of You People can never find its footing, opting for a haphazard approach that doesn’t make good use of its greatest assets.

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You People debuts on Netflix on January 27.

Photo by Tyler Adams/Netflix

Jonah Hill and Eddie Murphy in You People.

7 things to know in Austin food right now: Upscale bowling alley rolls into Cedar Park

News You Can Eat

Editor’s note: We get it. It can be difficult to keep up with the fast pace of Austin’s restaurant and bar scene. We have you covered with our regular roundup of essential food news.

Openings

Sometimes it feels like Austinites always have to be doing something, and that's what makes this town beautiful. In the spirit of not taking drinks sitting down, Spare Birdie Public House is rolling into Cedar Park (1400 Discovery Blvd) for a soft opening on February 1, and a grand opening on February 20. A bit like an upscale Top Golf or neighborhood bowling alley with an incredibly chic interior, the bar and restaurant serves its "chef-driven" food among bowling lanes, augmented reality and indoor golf setups, billiard tables, yard games, and more. The team that started Goodfolks in Georgetown are bowling over alley cliches like hotdogs and fries with lamb meatballs, grilled oysters, and Wagyu sliders.

The Belterra Plaza out in Dripping Springs is collecting new restaurants left and right, making itself a fast burger destination. Mighty Fine Burgers opened its seventh location — the first that is freestanding — in a huge 4,000-square-foot space at 165 Hargraves Drive, Suite T100. The simple menu sticks to the tried-and-true with The Classic Texas Burger, crinkle fries, onion rings, and Blue Bell milkshakes. In January, monthly specials shake up those base elements: a pimento cheese burger and a coconut cream pie shake. The new location is the first in Dripping Springs.

Theres been some buzz about burgers at the Buzz Mill recently, with the very recent departure of the vegan food truck Plow Burger. The buns were barely cold before the Buzz Mill opened its own burger truck, some vegan and some not. The grand opening coincided with the bar and coffee venue's tenth anniversary, on January 20. These are not beefy burgers; the thin patties leave plenty of room for toppings, and there are lots of other snacks to fill up on, like loaded fries, meatless chicken nuggets, and extra patties. The truck is open daily from 11 am to midnight.

Other News and Notes

Chefs Michael Fojtasek and Amanda Turner, of Austin's celebrated Southern restaurant Olamaie, are throwing a new chef series in the fryer on January 31, emphasizing Southern cooking styles while utilizing Texan ingredients. "Southern Exposure" is scheduled for the last Tuesday of every month, and there are three on the calendar already. Chef Turner, a James Beard semi-finalist and CultureMap's reigning rising star chef of the year, is taking the lead while collaborating with Fojtasek. Tickets ($100) available at olamaieaustin.com, benefitting the Jeremiah Program.

Nothing gold can stay, and unfortunately that means Loro's golden ramen noodles are ephemeral on the menu. For the month of February, the "Asian smokehouse" is offering two types of ramen. Both serve up a unique Balinese curry broth, one with brisket and one with grilled prawns. These winter items pair also include ajitama egg, green onion, and sesame, as the more traditional elements. Loro does not accept reservations.

If you can't afford rent in Austin, have you tried, like, not buying coffee? That might work if you were used to Proud Mary Coffee Roasters, an Australian company with an Austin cafe offering just 22 super-luxe cups of $150 joe here and Portland, Oregon. It seems like it's worth the price, given its award-winning flavor and very expensive source beans, but in case that's still not in your budget, a golden ticket giveaway may cover it. Purchase a Hartmann presale tin ($48) online on January 26 to enter.

The Bloody Mary Festival is now almost two weeks away, so people who love drinking their tomatoes should consider snatching up a ticket soon (although ticket sales will technically be open until the day of the event, if they last). On February 11 from 10:30 am to 6 pm, bartenders are pulling out all the stops, or at least all the toppings. Attendees will vote for participating local bars to choose the best cocktail. Tickets (starting at $49.50) available at thebloodymaryfest.com.