Courtesy of Canyon Ranch

An inspiring wellness destination brand has set its sight on Austin: Canyon Ranch is coming to the Texas Hill Country in 2025. The Austin-area resort is the third pending Texas outpost, coming on the heels of announcements for a Fort Worth club (projected for late 2023) and a Houston club (set for 2024).

With current locations in Tucson (Arizona), Lenox (Massachusetts), Woodside (California), and Las Vegas (Nevada), the resort-spa brand is in the process of introducing "urban-based clubs," such as those planned for Fort Worth and Houston, and "a digital app," in addition to the new Hill Country resort location, according to a release.

Canyon Ranch partnered with VICI Properties Inc. to secure up to $200 million in capital to develop the Austin-area resort, with construction set to start in 2023 for a projected 2025 opening.

“First and foremost, we exist to help people live better, longer. Expanding access to our resorts with the Austin location is just one part of a broader Canyon Ranch strategy to engage with our guests on a lifetime journey of wellbeing,” said Jeff Kuster, CEO of Canyon Ranch, in the release.

“Guests will soon be able to begin or continue their wellness experience at our new Canyon Ranch Clubs and be supported by our digital app. The Canyon Ranch ecosystem will surround you with insights, skills and the motivation needed to achieve true transformation. By meeting our guests where they are, Canyon Ranch can seamlessly support them no matter how or where they want to engage with us.”

The immersive, all-inclusive wellness destination brand takes a unique approach to wellbeing by prioritizing longterm solutions. Priori to a Canyon Ranch visit, guests consult with a dedicated Wellness Guide to discuss goals and intentions. The Wellness Guide then selects a personalized team of world-class advisors across a range of disciplines to introduce the guest to new practices and behaviors during their stay, all while enjoying the benefits of state-of-the-art fitness and spa facilities.

For more information on Canyon Ranch and to stay up to date for the new Texas Hill Country location, head to canyonranch.com.

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Here are the top 5 things to do in Austin this weekend

Weekend Event Guide

Live performances in Austin are aplenty in the days to come. From sketch comedy shows to classic fairytales marked by a glass slipper, the stage is set for top tier entertainment with a local twist. Check out the top five things to do in Austin this weekend. For a full listing of events, go to our calendar.

Thursday, January 26

ZACH Theatre presents Cinderella
Rogers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella takes new, dual-language life at ZACH Theatre. This special production of the Tony-nominated musical fairytale will be performed simultaneously in English and American Sign Language for audiences to enjoy. Familiar favorites like “In My Own Little Corner” and “Impossible” are certain to entertain and delight fans old and new. Followed by the opening weekend, shows are scheduled through March 5. For more information, visit the ZACH Theatre website.

The Latino Comedy Project: Gentrif*cked
Equal parts comedy and poignant social commentary come to life on stage at the George Washington Carver Museum. Emmy-nominated sketch troupe The Latino Comedy Project delves into the gentrification pandemic happening in Austin and nationwide with a mix of music, live sketches, and original videos. Tickets are available for purchase here.

Friday, January 27

Ginuwine in concert
R&B superstar Ginuwine brings his signature serenades to Austin for one evening only. Since his rise to fame in the 1990s, he’s released seven albums in his career and is the voice behind hit songs like “Pony” and “In Those Jeans.” For tickets to the ACL Live & 3TEN at ACL Live show, click here.

Saturday, January 28

Austin Opera presents Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
The Long Center for the Performing Arts welcomes the darkly comedic story of Sweeney Todd to its stage for a three-night-only run, beginning this weekend. Follow Todd and his murderous quest for revenge as he returns to London after being wrongly exiled and stripped of his family. A select number of tickets for all performances are still available.

The Little Gay Shop and Eastside Pop-Up present Queer Flea
Pick up your new favorite wares and support local LGBTQ+ makers at The Little Gay Shop this weekend only. The shop and Eastside Pop Up join forces to offer the community a market featuring more than 40 vendors, food, coffee, vinyl records shopping, and more. For a list of participating vendors and to get tickets, go to the event website. Admission is free and open to the public.

Courtesy photo

Austin Opera presents Sweeney Todd.

6 Austin restaurants score coveted James Beard Award nominations

2023 James Beard semifinalists

The James Beard Foundation has revealed the semifinalists for its 2023 Restaurant and Chef Awards. Six Austin restaurants have been included in both national categories and the coveted title of Best Chef: Texas.

Considered the Oscars of the food world, the awards recognize outstanding chefs and other culinary professionals in a wide range of categories ranging from Outstanding Chef to Best New Restaurant. The awards also include media categories that will be announced at a later date.

Austin restaurants and bars are well represented among both the national and regional awards. Overall, the city earned three national nominations and three nominations for Best Chef: Texas. Perhaps one of them will follow Austin chefs Edgar Rico, Iliana de la Vega, and Jesse Griffiths, who took home James Beard Awards in 2022.

They are:

Outstanding Restaurant: La Condesa
Outstanding Pastry Chef or Baker: Mariela Camacho, Comadre Panadería
Outstanding Wine and Other Beverages Program: Suerte

Best Chef: Texas nominees

Photo by Julie M. Neis

Tavel Bristol-Joseph earned a nomination in the Best Chef: Texas category.

  • Tavel Bristol-Joseph, Canje
  • Damien Brockway, Distant Relatives
  • Kareem El-Ghayesh, KG BBQ

Elsewhere, Houston and Dallas both boast 10 nominees, San Antonio has seven, and Fort Worth has two.

As with last year, the nominees include a wide range of barbecue pitmasters. Austin’s KG BBQ and Distant Relatives are joined by the pitmasters at five other restaurants. Building on Austin chef Iliana de la Vega’s Best Chef: Texas win last year, several chefs who serve Mexican cuisine received semifinalist nominations.

Finalists will be announced on Wednesday, March 29. The Foundation will reveal its winners at an awards ceremony on Monday, June 5, 2023, at the Lyric Opera of Chicago.

A diner with the "world's rudest service" is coming to Austin...like, whenever

Displeased to serve you

Imagine you’re at a restaurant and the server rolls her eyes because you don’t like ice in your water. What a pansy you are. First, you order a chocolate milkshake, but on second thought, you’d like vanilla. You apologetically ask her to change it on the ticket and she threatens to spit in it. On your way out, you tip her 20 percent and leave a review: “5 stars. Rudest service I’ve ever had.”

Karen’s Diner provides the worst service for the best experience, at least according to cheeky clientele who appreciate the campy comedy of a long-suffering server who just can’t smile through it anymore. The Australian restaurant concept exploded in popularity in the last few months, largely from viral videos of funny quips and embarrassed customers (who are usually in on the gag).

Part subversion of the sweet neighborhood waitress trope and part revenge fantasy for off-duty service industry people who find relief in watching other servers speak their minds, this is an exercise in improv comedy wrapped up in a classic diner meal. There are now 14 locations in the United States according to the restaurant’s locations page, including one that has quietly popped up online in Austin.

There is very little information about this location in particular, but there is an active listing on Hidden, which allows users to sign up for a waitlist and eventually gives access to the restaurant’s secret location. As of January 24, Hidden told CultureMap via email that it does not know the opening date.

Although the diner could rest on the laurels of its terrible attitude, reviewers seem to agree, the food is also good. The menu lists 14 burgers, including some traditional cheeseburgers, luxe twists, chicken burgers, and a few meatless options, in addition to other diner snacks like wings, floats, and fries. Prices may give visitors something to complain about (the burgers range from $16-28), but the price keeps the most creative instigators on staff.

Kids under 14 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian for lunch, while dinner’s raunchiness raises the accompanied age to 16. In general, the chain encourages minors to attend earlier in the day. Any actual Karens may show their ID for a free drink.

More information about Karen’s Diner can be found at bemorekaren.com. Check Hidden for changes, or sign up for the ticket release waitlist.