It's been a good week for Austin grocery shoppers: First, a new 2-story H-E-B; now, the first of four Foxtrot locations has officially opened its doors. As of Friday, February 17, the brand's Burnet Road store is now serving customers, with a grand opening celebration coming up next Thursday, February 23.

Started in Chicago, Foxtrot's entry into the Austin market is actually a full-circle moment for the brand: Co-founders Mike LaVitola and Taylor Bloom met while studying and working in Austin. Much more than a convenient store, their brand combines big-city bodega vibes with your friendly neighborhood coffee shop, wine bar, and — when in-person interaction isn't your thing — pickup and delivery service through its user-friendly app.

The first of four planned Austin locations, the 2,500-square-foot Burnet location was designed by Foxtrot’s in-house design team in partnership with architect Scott Magic of Magic Architecture and general contractor Franklin Alan. The signage/mural painting was done by ION ART, and the fridge header art is by Katie Lukes & Paintings of Studio Bookmark

To celebrate its official opening, the Burnet store will host a Foxtrot fête on February 23; taking place from 4-7 pm, the party will feature bites from local vendors, live music, and lots of swag. Store visitors who download and use the Foxtrot app during opening week will get a free café drink during the month, in addition to various discounts and promotions. Members who spend $100 in a month get $1 coffee and free delivery.

Ahead of the grand opening celebration, CultureMap poked around the new store and connected via email with co-founder and CEO Mike LaVitola about all things Foxtrot.

CultureMap: How did you and Foxtrot co-founder Taylor Bloom first meet?
Mike LaVitola: [We] met while I was in business school and Taylor was at UT Austin finishing his Masters in Computer Science.

CM: How does it feel to bring the brand back to your Austin roots?
ML: Austin was the place where Taylor and I developed the idea for Foxtrot. We'd brainstorm ways of how we could build our app and how it would all work logistically. We eventually went on to pitch the Foxtrot concept at SXSW. It was a natural progression to finally open up shop here.

CM: Can you share what's unique about Foxtrot with our readers?
Foxtrot has created a first-of-its-kind omnichannel experience that seamlessly marries e-commerce technology, the feel-good community of neighborhood stores, and an expertly curated assortment for today’s modern consumer ... Foxtrot originally launched as a delivery app, created to modernize the nostalgic corner store experience by creating a digital-first e-commerce platform that fulfills customers’ daily needs — except instead of traditional corner store foods, we deliver the best of local purveyors alongside new, trending brands from around the world.

CM: Where and how are most of your products made?
ML: Each store sources products regionally, paying close attention to what local goods the community loves most. Our model allows us to place hyper local brands and products on our shelves from each city we operate in. 40 percent of our product assortment comes from small makers and emerging brands and we plan to keep it that way.

CM: It's clear your four Austin locations (Burnet Road; South 1st & Annie; City Hall; and Guadalupe, near UT Austin) were chosen strategically : Can you tell us your goals with each location?
ML: Our goal is to become a staple to the local communities we enter. From the onset, we start by finding great buildings we can repurpose in neighborhoods where we think we can make the biggest impact by providing our style of convenience and a space to gather.

CM: I know you have a Dallas location, too: Any other Texas plans?
ML: For now, we are focused on opening our three other Austin locations, but we are always looking for the next opportunity both in the Austin market and beyond.

Foxtrot Burnet Austin

Photo by Taylor Prinsen Photography

Foxtrot's first Austin store is now open on Burnet Road.

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Austin earned top 10 rank for highest number of build-to-rent homes last year


With the increasing demand for housing and rising popularity of constructing homes for rent, Austin has earned a top 10 position in a new analysis of American metro areas with the highest number of single-family rentals built for all of 2022.

A total of 324 build-to-rent homes were completed in Austin in 2022, which is a 10-year high, according to the study by RentCafe. The newest findings put the Texas Capital three places higher than in 2021, when the city ranked No. 13 in the nation.

"Austin was named the second fastest growing city in the U.S. by the Kenan Institute of Private Enterprise," the study's author wrote. "That came after the city recorded a 4.3 percent rise in its GDP in 2022 to $216 billion, following the Bay Area."

The study analyzed build-to-rent data from RentCafe's sister site, Yardi Matrix, for communities that had at least 50 single-family rental units.

Dallas nailed the rankings this year by earning the top spot with nearly 2,800 single-family rental units completed last year. Phoenix (which outpaced Dallas last year) ranked No. 2 with only 1,527 units completed. After Phoenix, single-family rentals in other American metro areas only went into the triple digits, with Atlanta, Georgia (No. 3) at 808, Greenville, South Carolina (No. 4) at 584, and Charlotte, North Carolina rounding out the top five with 475 units completed.

The metro areas that complete the top 10 for the most build-to-rent homes in 2022 include:

  • No. 6 – Detroit, Michigan
  • No. 7 – Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
  • No. 8 – Panama City, Florida
  • No. 9 – Charleston, South Carolina
  • No. 10 – Austin, Texas

Austin had the seventh highest number of single-family rentals completed in the country within the last five years, totaling 1,096 units. The Texas cities that ranked higher were Dallas (No. 2) and Houston (No. 4). San Antonio ranked below Austin at No. 8. Phoenix took the No. 1 spot with over 6,000 build-to-rent homes completed in the same time period.

The study's findings support a growing demand for flexibility among renters who may not want the high cost and maintenance associated with home ownership, RentCafe says.

“More and more people are deciding they want the best of both worlds: the flexible lifestyle of the renter, with no maintenance commitments and costs, and the comfort and privacy offered by living in a house,” the study’s author wrote. “In this case, build-to-rent homes check all of the boxes, while high home prices and rising interest rates make them even more appealing.”

The number of single-family rentals is expected to continue rising dramatically in 2023. Currently, 945 units are under construction in Austin. Overall, there are 44,700 build-to-rent homes being built this year throughout the nation; three times more than the number of completed homes in all of 2022, the study says.

Shuttered Salvation Army shelter in downtown Austin will get new life

Salvation Army

When the Salvation Army shelter on East Eighth Street shut its doors back in April, Austin City Council member Zohaib "Zo" Qadri (District 9) said it was unfortunate to see as an Austin resident and leader.

"The Salvation Army kind of abruptly stated that they were pulling out without much of a notice to the residents of the shelter in the district – a shelter that largely houses or housed women and children," Qadri said. "So, you know, that was a huge disappointment for us."

Now the City of Austin has reached a compromise and solution that Qadri believes will help those experiencing homelessness. The Austin City Council on Thursday, June 8, approved a 12-month lease agreement for the former Salvation Army shelter that will cost more than $1 million.

The site will be operated by California-based nonprofit Urban Alchemy, which also provides services at the ARCH, or the Austin Resource Center for the Homeless. The council also approved a contract for Urban Alchemy to add more funding, extend the ARCH program and run the former Salvation Army shelter, providing 150 beds.

Urban Alchemy will get more than $4 million.

Later this summer, City leaders will also consider a temporary emergency shelter that will provide around 300 more beds for people experiencing homelessness.

ECHO, or the Ending Community Homelessness Coalition, estimates there are thousands of people experiencing homelessness in Austin. Since the city's camping ban was reinstated in May 2021, many of these individuals have spread out throughout the city or gone into hiding, making it harder to connect them with services.


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

Tenacious D will play the best song in the world in Austin this fall

Spicy Meatball

America's favorite (only?) comedy rock duo is back on tour, and lucky for Austinites, they've announced the addition of three Texas dates this fall. Of course, we're talking about none other than Tenacious D, comprised of Jack Black and Kyle Glass.

The duo's Spicy Meatball Tour is currently underway this month in Europe, with newly extended dates including Houston (September 13), Grand Prairie (September 14), and Austin (September 15).

Supporting acts are yet to be announced, but tickets are on sale as of Friday, June 9, at 10 am. Fans can purchase tickets HERE.

According to a release, the tour dates come on the heels of the recently-released recorded version of Tenacious D’s viral, fan-favorite live cover of Chris Isaak’s “Wicked Game.” The single is accompanied by a video directed by longtime D collaborator Taylor Stephens, and features our dynamic duo in a glorious, romantic romp by the sea. Last month, they released their first new song in five years, “Video Games,” which has been streamed over 18 million times across all platforms in less than a month. The animated music video, created by Oney Plays, brings video game-ified versions of Black and Glass to life in classic and hilarious ways.

In addition to the single releases, Tenacious D will be the special guest at this year’s Video Game Awards, happening on June 25 at the Hollywood Bowl, where they will perform their new single.

But of course the burning question remains: Will Black perform his equally viral "Peaches" from the recent Super Mario Bros. movie? There's only one way to find out.

Full Tour Dates are below (new dates in bold font):
6/7/23 Berlin, Germany @ Zitadelle
6/8/23 Nickelsdorf, Austria @ Nova Rock Festival
6/10/23 Milan, Italy @ Carroponte
6/12/23 Zurich, Switzerland @ The Hall
6/13/23 Brussels, Belgium @ Forest National
6/14/23 Rotterdam, Netherlands @ Ahoy
6/16/23 London, England @ O2 Arena
6/18/23 Clisson, France @ Hellfest Open Air Festival
6/25/23 Los Angeles, CA @ Hollywood Bowl (Video Game Awards)
9/6/23 Charlotte, NC @ PNC Music Pavilion
9/7/23 Franklin, TN @ Firstbank Amphitheater
9/9/23 Indianapolis, IN @ All IN Music Festival
9/11/23 Rogers, AR @ Walmart AMP
9/13/23 Houston, TX @ White Oak Music Hall
9/14/23 Grand Prairie, TX @ Texas Trust CU Theatre
9/15/23 Austin, TX @ Germania Insurance Amphitheater