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Photo courtesy of Maaribu

What many Austinites may not realize when passing by Maaribu on Guadalupe Street is that the home goods store has a perfect name. A combination of Marfa and Malibu, the chic little showroom and café offers decor in desert tones, eclectic desserts made without gluten and with lots of buzzword ingredients, and the feeling that pursuing little luxuries is part of wellness. Speaking of those truly little treats, Maaribu’s new bakery truck, which feeds the South First Street café, is now open at the Guadalupe Street showroom.

The truck carries a diverse menu of classics (chocolate chip cookies and brownies), savory snacks (rosemary parmesan and cheddar scallion dill scones), and several vegan offerings (matcha cheesecake and dark chocolate mousse). A mysterious golden spice sandwich cookie — nodding to turmeric — beckons with a piped swirl of frosting, while banana and lemon loaves stand by for instant, miniaturized comfort.

A press release shares that Maaribu’s lemon blueberry scones and dragon fruit confetti cupcakes contain “superfoods and adaptogens” and are “full of antioxidants and prebiotics.” While it likely doesn’t matter that the star ingredient in your cupcake could keep you relatively more alive while lost in Big Bend than a boring old strawberry, dragon fruit confetti is an undeniably happy concept.

Other treats available at the café, like the Iced Immortality Mocha with adaptogenic mushrooms, are meant to deliver a tangible boost to energy and resilience to stress. Like anyone with experience in herbs or CBD could tell you, it’s a long-term process, but a little variety is a fun way to break up your usual routine.

Everything on the menu is by pastry chef Serene Warren, who trained in part at the Culinary Institute of America. Despite taking two decades of full focus as a stay-at-home mom, Warren is back in the culinary game, and has created two restaurant concepts before Maaribu, which has taken up most of her eight years in Austin so far.

Maaribu has stores at 3402 Guadalupe St. and 1413 S. First St., with the bakery truck parked at the former. Maaribu stated in an Instagram comment that the truck is open Tuesday through Sunday, from 9 am to 4 pm, and Sundays from 10 am to 3 pm. More information about the brick-and-mortar stores is available at maaribu.com.

Photo courtesy of Watertrade

5 things to know in Austin food right now: Omakase experiences pop up around town

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.

Pop-ups and special items

While the chef’s away, the bar goers will play. That’s how that phrase goes, right? Watertrade, an upscale bar attached to the omakase restaurant Otoko, is holding down the fort while chef Yoshi Okai is away in Aspen. On June 17 and 18 only, for the first time, the cocktail bar becomes its very own omakase experience with a pared-down six-course menu ($75). That includes five savory dishes, one sweet dish, a drink, and an optional caviar pairing. The bar will still be offering its izakaya and regular beverage menus. Reserve on Tock.

Never turn down another omakase pop-up: If that means omakase two weekends in a row, you make it work. Leroy & Lewis is bringing its barbecue chops to Texas Saké Company for a unique collaboration with Tare, an in-home omakase experience. The 11-course menu celebrates grilled and smoked meats paired with Asian garnishes and preparations including “beef tongue nigiri, pork brisket spring roll, a BBQ drippings ice cream, and more.” Chefs Michael Carranza and Evan LeRoy are doing something truly adventurous with this one-night-only menu June 29. Reserve on Tock.

There’s no right way to celebrate Pride, but there’s a right way to make a doughnut, and that’s a cake dooughnut with vanilla bean glaze. Sorry. The Salty Donut is doing things right, adding Swiss buttercream, rainbow milk crumb, and edible disco glitter for its celebratory “rainbow funfetti” cake doughnut, available in-store and via Uber Eats all week from June 20 to 26. Proceeds in Austin will go to Equality Texas, a nonpartisan LGBTQ+ advocacy group. If you happen to be in Dallas that week, those proceeds are going to Resource Center Dallas.

Other news and notes

On June 18, Texas Keeper Cider launches its Grafter Rosato, an 8 percent ABV, 10-month aged cider made with Sangiovese grapes and three heirloom varieties. The cidery describes the new offering as having a “pleasing amount of barnyard, earthy notes and bringing a lovely complexity.” This is a great excuse to stop in and try the long new snacks menu, with highlights like a Texas cheese board, blistered shishitos, and panzanella (imagine if bruschetta were a salad). More information about the taproom and bottles is available at texaskeeper.com.

Health and nutrition-focused restaurant The Well is celebrating National Smoothie Day on June 21 with a free add-on ingredient addition or boost. That means ingredients like grass-fed whey isolate, collagen peptides, or plant-based proteins (“adaptogens, Lion’s Mane, CBD, blue majik spirulina, and more”). The 20-ounce drinks also come as bowls with grain-free granola, fruit, and superfoods. Find the full menu at eatwellatx.com.

7 things to know in Austin food right now: Giant soccer-themed hot spot rolls into town

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 and closings

Some big names in the local hospitality industry are among those pitching Austin on a new “food, fun, and fútbol” destination venue. Opening to the public in February is a unique sports-entertainment concept dubbed The Pitch. Located at 13000 Harris Ridge Blvd. in the 50-acre Parmer Pond business park in Northeast Austin, The Pitch features some definite draws for Austin FC fans and foodies alike. In collaboration with Austin FC and Two Oak Ventures, the concept was brought about by a partnership between Karlin Real Estate/Parmer Austin; several sports-focused, project-management, and design ventures; and, perhaps most notably for local foodies, Corner Kick Hospitality Group, the creative force behind 24 Diner, Irene’s, and Cookbook at the Austin Central Library. Among its offerings, The Pitch — made from multi-level, customized shipping containers — will include a 1,200-seat stadium, jumbo TV screens, sports courts, and an artificial-surface soccer pitch. Planned eateries include high-end burger bar Ranger Burger; Ga Roti, a Vietnamese rotisserie chicken concept; Austin institution Taco Flats; Sand Bar, a beach bar alongside the onsite sand volleyball courts serving frozen tropical drinks; bakery Coffee Club; and a selection of local beer and craft cocktails will be available at the Corner Kick Bar. Follow The Pitch on Instagram for updates.

Another cherished Austin food institution is closing its doors permanently, but for once, it’s for an entirely different reason than the pandemic. La Mexicana Bakery, which opened in 1989 at 1924 S. First St., will close permanently in mid-February when owner Jesus Martinez Becerra retires. While Austinites will no doubt miss the variety of Mexican breads and baked goods (ooh, that tres leches cake, y’all!), Becerra’s daughter encourages locals to see the change not as something negative, but as part of a success story. “Yes, it’s true. The bakery will be closing,” Bianka Lopez said in a Facebook post from Sunday, January 23. “But don’t think we got pushed out. Dad is retiring and wants to enjoy the fruits of his labor. Don’t be sad. Be proud of what a Mexican immigrant [did] to build his American dream. If you know him, you know he’s very humble and a hard worker. La Mexicana holds a special place in everyone’s heart to the Austin locals and has made history to good ol’ Austin. Legacy is what Dad will be leaving behind and no one can ever take that from him.” You’ve still got a few weeks to pop by the bakery for some empanadas.

Meanwhile, a new bakery is on the rise in Leander. Noble Delights Bakery, which had previously been run by owner Regina Noble out of her home and cranks out some super impressive cakes, is renovating a space at 2091-B S. Hwy. 183 to make way for the new brick-and-mortar bakery, which will go in next door to a Papa John’s pizza shop. According to a state filing, Noble and her team will begin renovations on the 986-square-foot space on February 1, with renovations complete by the end of May. As they say at Noble Delights, that sounds delightfully delicious and creative.

Some seriously good coffee is now brewing at the flagship Whole Foods Market at Lamar Boulevard and Sixth Street, thanks to Philadelphia-based coffee brand La Colombe, which has officially opened its first café location in Texas inside the bustling Whole Foods location. Originally aiming to open in early December 2021, the opening was a bit delayed, but a month late hardly even counts in these pandemic times. Open daily from 7 am-7 pm, the new La Colombe, which is an independent retail space and café, features a buzzworthy menu, including its signature brews, lattes on tap, and a rotating lineup of single-origin coffees and blends available in espresso and drip. Check out more about the new café here.

Other news and notes

If you live in the Austin area and love Girl Scout Cookies, we’ve got some sweet news for you. Girl Scouts of Central Texas is making it over-the-top easy for cookie monsters to get their hands on the good stuff this cookie season. The local council has partnered with Austin burger chain P. Terry’s, which will host Girl Scout Cookie booths at select dine-in burger joints around town. The booths will be up and running on the weekends through Sunday, February 27. Hours of delicious operation for the cookie booths are Fridays 5-7 pm, Saturdays 9 am-7 pm, and Sundays 11 am-7 pm. The move is in response to the local Girl Scouts having to pivot their cookie-business plans during the pandemic while still giving Austinites access to all the Thin Mints (and the array of other cookie flavors) they could ever hope for. Additionally, in the spirit of Girl Scouts delivering the goods directly to your door, the local council has also partnered with Favor, which is offering same-day delivery of Girl Scout Cookies within a 6-mile radius in Austin and an 8-mile radius in San Marcos. Search “Girl Scout Cookies” in the Favor app or on favordelivery.com to browse the available treats. And to sweeten the deal, Favor is even offering customers $3 discounted deliveries on all cookie orders, with no minimum purchase.

In mouthwatering news that has us wondering, “Wait, that wasn’t already a thing?” local fan favorite Austin Eastciders is launching a new flavor: Apple Pie Cider. Only available locally and aiming to tap those nostalgic American feelings about apple pie, the new Eastciders beverage is a semi-sweet cider showcasing notes of cinnamon, vanilla, and fresh baked apples, and boasts a 6.9 percent alcohol content. The new Apple Pie Cider is launching as a tasting-room exclusive at Austin Eastciders’ South Austin restaurant at 1530 Barton Springs Rd., which is where the official launch party will take place. Open to the public, the launch party is set for February 11 at 6 pm, and will include live music, cocktails — including an Apple Pie Float and Mulled Apple Pie Cider — and more. Watch Austin Eastciders on Instagram for more info.

Continuing with this report’s sweet theme, we are happy to share this delightful news: The Salty, the wildly popular artisan doughnut shop based in Miami that opened to great success on South Congress Avenue in Austin in August, has launched its local catering program. Now, don’t go thinking this is just another mediocre catering service, as The Salty serves up a pretty charming menu of catering offerings, including doughnut towers, custom doughnut letters, table setups, rentals of its cute doughnut camper, and more. Learn all about the The Salty’s catering treats here.

Courtesy of Huckleberry

5 things to know in Austin food right now: Seafood truck nets new far-out location

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 and reopenings

Some delicious coastal comforts have just rolled into South Austin. Huckleberry, the local seafood truck (and home to perhaps the best ceviche in town), has anchored at The Far Out Lounge on South Congress Avenue. The truck, which features chef-prepared, sustainably sourced Gulf seafood, was originally opened in the summer of 2020 and located in North Austin next to Circle Brewing Co. “After a successful year in business in North Austin, we’re excited to welcome current and new customers to check us out down South at Far Out Lounge,” says Melinda Reese, Huckleberry co-owner. “This is just one of the many exciting developments in the new year. We hope you will get acquainted with our new spot soon.”

Speaking of south side seafood, a new sushi bar has washed up in the Sunset Valley neighborhood. Bluefin Sushi Bar and Ramen, which promises “high-quality ingredients, first-class atmosphere, and delicious eats,” has opened at 5400 Brodie Ln., suite 1200, in the Sunset Valley Marketfair shopping center. Bluefin’s vast menu features everything from tempura dishes and spicy tuna crispy rice to 11 different ramen dishes, and an array of cold small plates, sushi and sashimi, and classic rolls.

The latest eatery to hit a grand slam in the bustling suburb of Kyle, just south of Austin, is none other than ubiquitous American diner Denny’s. According to a state filing, Denny’s will start construction on a new 4,416-square-foot, free-standing restaurant at 19020 I-35 in Kyle on March 1 and complete the build-out by June 1. The eatery is one in a long line of restaurants to recently announce their expansion into the Austin suburb. This will be the first Denny’s location in Kyle.

Following the opening of its first of 11 restaurants in Houston, fast-casual concept Aloha Poke Co. could be moving into the Austin market. According to industry site RestaurantNews.com, Aloha Poke, which started as a food stall in a Chicago train station, has a long-term development plan to open eateries in other Texas metroplex markets, including Austin and Dallas-Fort Worth. Core to the Aloha Poke menu is the build-your-own-bowl option, which includes a variety of rice dishes, meats (ahi tuna, shrimp, salmon, chicken, tofu), and a choice of toppings and sauces.

Other news and notes

If your New Year’s resolution involves eating more tasty treats, perhaps you should consider noshing doughnuts for breakfast (or lunch or dinner) every once in a while, especially considering Austin boasts one of the best doughnut joints in the country, according to one food site. Tasting Table, which recently ranked the best Doughnut Places Across the U.S., highlighted Gourdough’s in Austin, home of “big fat donuts.” Particular notice was given to the South Lamar Boulevard restaurant’s blueberry-filled doughnut holes, the CBD doughnut, and every local’s fave, the doughnut burger, which comes in no fewer than seven varieties. While chains The Salty Donut and Voodoo Doughnut, which both have locations in Austin, got shoutouts on the list for their locations in their home states, Gourdough’s was the only Texas doughnut shop to make the list.

7 things to know in Austin food right now: Tex-Mex favorite heats up Hyde 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

Central Austinites are raising a toast of avocado margarita to the newly opened Curra’s Grill in Hyde Park. The family-run local darling and Tex-Mex staple has opened in the space that previously housed cherished vegetarian restaurant Mother’s Café, which closed in October 2020 after losing its battle with the pandemic. The new Curra’s, now known as the “mother of all Mex,” previously noted that the menu will feature many longtime fan faves alongside family recipes like duck quesadillas and scallops. Though things are still getting up and running, Curra’s Hyde Park also previously promised golf-cart delivery of tacos and margaritas in the neighborhood. Stay tuned for more on that rollout. The restaurant is located at 4215 Duval St. Hours are Monday through Saturday 4-10 pm.

Visitors to downtown bar Valhalla can now hit the sauce — the marinara sauce, that is. Restaurateur Tess Eastwood has opened a fresh pasta eatery inside the bar called Marinara Miracles. The miraculous menu, which feels far more exquisite than any bar food we’ve ever come across, features delicacies like squid-ink fettuccine, custom lasagna, ravioli, bruschetta, meatball subs, and arancini. It’s kind of the perfect fare to nosh after a beer-guzzling night trudging around the Red River Cultural District. Marinara Miracles is open for business Wednesday through Saturday 7 pm-midnight.

Dollars to doughnuts that local foodies who tend toward the indulgent realm have already marked their calendars for Friday, August 27. That’s when wildly popular Miami-based The Salty Donut will (finally!) swing open the doors at its new neighborhood spot at 2000 S. Congress Ave., and wow Austinites with its sticky, gooey, flavor-bomb artisanal doughnut specialties like Texas Chocolate Sheet Cake, Prickly Pear Margarita, and the undeniably spectacular Horchata. Prior to its grand opening, The Salty is hosting a tasty lotto giveaway. All locals have to do is follow The Salty on Instagram and fill out a short lotto form. The Salty will randomly choose 60 winners each day through Thursday, August 26 to visit the new SoCo shop and pick up a free lotto pack that includes six tantalizing doughnuts. The grand opening celebration will continue throughout the weekend with more giveaways. The Salty Donut will be open Sunday through Thursday 7 am-7 pm and Friday and Saturday 7 am-10 pm.

Downtown dwellers and Austinites in search of a sweet meal that will bowl them over need look no further than the Second Street District. Opening in the hot neighborhood downtown spot on Tuesday, August 24 is healthy quick-service eatery Sweetgreen, which serves up super fresh salads and warm bowls. Located at 200 W. Second St. on the bustling corner of Second and Colorado streets next to Jo’s Coffee, Sweetgreen also has two other Austin locations, one on The Drag near the UT campus that opened in December 2020 and one on South Congress Avenue that opened in summer 2020. Hungry locals can check out the plant-forward menu while also sharing some Sweetgreen love with area kids: For every bowl sold on opening day, Sweetgreen will donate a bowl to Brighter Bites for elementary schools in Travis County.

Other news and notes

As the Circuit of The Americas revs up for the Formula 1 U.S. Grand Prix this fall, race fans from around the world are also gearing up to take a bite out of Austin. For F1 weekend October 22-24, COTA will unveil its new COTA Culinary Experience, which will feature five unique food villages — and 45 restaurants — offering a mix of some of the best bites in Austin. Each restaurant will serve two to three menu items for race weekend. The five villages include Rodeo Driveway, a Beverly Hills-inspired sidewalk café; La Cantina, featuring classic Tex-Mex dishes, margaritas, and a fiesta ambiance; Lone Star Land, highlighting all things Texas, but mostly barbecue fare; Taste of Texas, which is inspired by chef-driven food festivals, live music, and picnic culture, will feature gourmet grab-and-go items from favorite local eateries; and the aptly named Biergarten, which will celebrate Texas’ German heritage with Austin purveyors of sausage and schnitzel.

One fast-casual concept is using its noodle and considering reentering the Austin market. Noodles & Co., known for its variety of Asian and Italian noodle dishes, mac and cheese offerings, and stuffed pastas, is “looking for prospective multiunit franchisees to sign on this year within 18-24 months in Austin,” a company rep tells CultureMap, adding that the Austin locations will likely feature lighter options from a smaller footprint. The company, which now boasts more than 450 locations nationwide, had previously opened five company-operated Austin spots, but they were all closed within four years of opening, according to the Austin Business Journal. Noodles & Co. recently told the ABJ that it could move back into Austin with five to 10 restaurants to start and would want to do so sooner than later.

If the pandemic has made you feel like you’re missing out on some meaty, spicy stew a la Homer Simpson, Hotel Vegas is dishing out an event you won’t want to miss. The East Austin venue will host its chili cook-off event, dubbed Rotel Vegas, on Sunday, September 5 from 4-7 pm, when “chili will be served, judged, and consumed by the masses” while DJ Boi Orbison spins all-country vinyl alongside other outdoor music performances. (No word on whether Homer’s dreaded Guatemalan insanity peppers will make an appearance.) Each competing team will present a meat-based and a plant-based chili, and will be judged by a panel in two categories: professional chefs and at-home cooks. Best in Show will be judged by the community. This event is free, but to taste and judge the chili, you’ll have to buy a $5 chili tasting kit (with serving bowls, spoons, napkins, and hand wipes) — well worth the experience. After the winners are announced, a free Hotel Vegas after-party kicks off outside. Hotel Vegas is located at 1500 E. Sixth St.

Austin-based private equity firm gobbles up iconic Texas doughnut shop

Shipley sold

Texas' iconic Shipley Do-Nuts has a new owner. The Austin-based private equity firm Peak Rock Capital announced it has purchased the company from the Houston-based Shipley family. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Known for its doughnuts and kolaches, the company has over 300 locations in nine states, including seven in Austin. The acquisition will allow the company to grow with both its existing franchisees and to find new opportunities in other markets.

"My grandfather, father, and I have dedicated our lives to serving Shipley Do-Nuts, our franchisees and our guests. After an exhaustive search, it became clear that Peak Rock Capital was the ideal steward of our business as it pursues the next stage of growth," Lawrence Shipley III said in a statement. "My family is thrilled to continue as investors in the Company, and we look forward to the exciting growth to come."

With the completion of the purchase, Shipley has retired from his position as president of the company. He will focus on other family investments, according to a release.

"Shipley represents an exciting opportunity to invest in a beloved consumer brand with an established reputation for authenticity and quality," Peak Rock managing director Robert Strauss added. "We are incredibly impressed with the franchise that the Shipley family has built, and we look forward to partnering with the Company's management team to invest behind their growth plan."

Peak Rock Capital is an Austin-based "middle-market private investment firm" with investments in various businesses in both the U.S. and Europe. Its other holdings include snack foods maker Halo Foods Ltd. and Turkey Hill, a company that makes ice cream and refrigerated drinks.

Shipley Do-Nuts is the latest Texas brand acquired by a private equity firm. In November, Torchy's Tacos announced it has received a $400 million investment that will allow it to expand to 10 more states over the next four years. Chicago’s BDT Capital Partners acquired a majority stake in Whataburger in 2019 with plans to expand the brand.

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Austin chefs turn out for farmer-focused food festival, returning this spring

Field Guide

Sometimes reinventing the wheel is a good thing, which may explain the immediate and warm welcome Field Guide Festival received upon its launch in 2021 and return in 2022. Moving past the food festival trope of tiny bites, loud music, and general Baccanalian vibes, Field Guide Festival seeks to foster connections between farmers, chefs, consumers, and everyone in between. Returning to East Austin on Saturday, April 22, the innovative event invites Central Texans to consider their role in the future of food in the Austin community.

Founded by female powerhouses, Lindsey Sokol and Trisha Bates, the goal of the fest is to leave guests inspired to participate in their local food system, equipped with the knowledge of where to find the best, most sustainable food available in Austin and the surrounding area.

"Field Guide Festival presents an answer to the question, ‘Where does your food come from?’ by highlighting the local farmers and chefs of Austin," Bates shares in a release. "Our festival is the only place in the city where you will see the farmers side-by-side with the chefs who transform their food, creating dishes uniquely representing this exact time and place. You'll never have this food, presented in this way, again."

The recently-released 2023 lineup features an impressive roster of 34 farmer and chef partners who will partner together to create dishes exclusive to the festival using in-season produce. Tickets will include a full day of food and beverages, cooking demonstrations, symposium conversations, live music, and a farmer’s bodega — all benefiting the Central Texas Food Bank.

“The Central Texas Food Bank is honored to be a partner of such a special gathering,” says Mark Jackson Chief Development Officer of Central Texas Food Bank in a releasE. “Not only will revenue from the event help ensure that thousands of our neighbors facing food insecurity have enough to eat, but attendees will learn about the impact food has on our whole community while having fun.”

Curated by Field Guide Culinary Director Chef Philip Speer, the 2023 chef and farmer lineup is below:

  • Abby Love (Abby Jane Bakeshop) & Amalia Staggs (Farmshare Austin)
  • Colter Peck (Elementary) & Becky Hume (VRDNT Farm)
  • Fiore Tedesco (L’Oca D’Oro) & Sean Henry (Hi-Fi MYCO)
  • Graeme Little (Fairmont Austin) & Julia Poplawsky Lewis (Cielito Lindo Farm)
  • Graham Fuller (Emmer & Rye) & William Nikkel (Trosi Farms)
  • Joaquin Ceballos (Este) & Anamaria Gutierrez (Este Garden)
  • Krystal Craig + Ian Thurwachter (Intero) & Celia Bell (Two Hives Honey)
  • Mia Li (Ora King Salmon) & Joe + Kasey Diffie (Joe’s Microgreens)
  • Natalie Gazaui (Chef Consultant) & Gregory Mast (Central Texas Food Bank Garden)
  • Nicholas Yanes (Juniper + Uncle Nicky’s) & Perrine Noelke (Local Pastures)
  • Rhys Davis & Michael Fojtasek (Maie Day) & Marianna Peeler (Peeler Farms)
  • Kevin & Rosie Truong (Fil N Viet) & Travis Breihan (Smallhold)
  • Susana Querejazu (Lutie’s) & Hannah Gongola (H2Grow Farms)
  • Todd Duplechan (Lenoir + Vixen’s Wedding) & Ryan Gould (Geosmin Regenerative)
  • Zechariah Perez (Sour Duck Market + Odd Duck) & Montana Stovall (Dancing Bear Farm)
  • Ooni Chef Demos by Casey Wilcox (Little Trouble) & Christina Currier (Comedor)
  • Force of Nature Chef Demo by Katrina Ferraro and Freddy Diaz (Las Brasas)

Featuring a mix of savory, sweet, and plant-based options, all food and beverages are included with each ticket, allowing guests to roam and sample everything. Tickets are $100 for adults, while a new Young Foodies ticket option ($50 for ages 13-30) and free entry children 12 and under encourages the whole family to come savor and celebrate the best of Central Texas food.

“New this year, Field Guide will welcome guests of all ages!" says founder Lindsey Sokol. "We’ve created a food festival that puts education first in order to strengthen the food system for the future, including the next generation. Our goal is to present food in a way no one else in Austin is doing, where the local food system is the priority.”

For more information and to purchase tickets for the event, please visit fieldguidefest.com or follow along on social media @fieldguidefest.

Trendy boxing gym knocks out Cedar Park with more planned

Out of the Box

New or aspiring boxers who worry about punching above their weight may have a new solution that caters to all. Rumble Boxing, a gym that boasts clients including David Beckham, Selena Gomez, and Justin Bieber, is now open in Cedar Park, with plans to expand elsewhere in Austin in February.

Unlike the boxing-solo-before-dawn movie trope, Rumble offers group classes that make the sport accessible and fun, including some workouts that aren’t just traditional boxing (called “boxing-inspired circuits”). Boxers of all levels get together for something that looks in videos like a spin class with boxing equipment.

The gym calls it a “10-round, 45-minute fight,” but an explanation on the website reveals “fight” to be more of a metaphor. Some rounds involve punching bags, while others incorporate floor training with bodyweight and dumbbell exercises. The classes promise a balance of both; half and half throughout the class.

Ambiance plays a significant part in the experience, and the gym emphasizes its music and lights along with “the program, and the collective heartbeat of the room.” Although the program contemporizes boxing for greater accessibility, the core elements are still there. Boxers will learn “the six punches”: the jab, the cross, front and back hooks, and front and back uppercuts.

The system has proven popular so far, and not just with celebrities. In business since just 2017, Rumble has 35 studios in the United States, plus some in Australia and the Dominican Republic. In Texas, there are also locations outside of Houston and Dallas, with more set to open in both by March.

Rumble Boxing is now open at 12160 W Parmer Lane, Suite #150. Hours of operation vary by day and are available at rumbleboxinggym.com.

This professional development group is working to connect Black Austinites and keep them in Austin

Fellowing the Leader

Even though Austin is generally understood as friendly and good for transplants, it’s always hard to land in a new city and gauge your longevity there. Finding resources takes time and connections, and for new Austinites who experience social marginalization, it may not feel possible to thrive.

Seeking to create those connections, the African American Leadership Institute (AALI) is a professional development group focused on increasing civic awareness and leadership opportunities for Austin's Black population. According to the website, their mission is to "build a stronger Black Austin community by equipping exceptional leaders to live up to their moral responsibility ... to make life better for everyone in our city, state, and the world."

Established in 2021, the idea for AALI evolved out of the Leadership Austin model, which also provides civic leadership training and is in turn an evolution of the Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce. After participating in the 2002 class at Leadership Austin, AALI founder Heath Creech noticed a pattern: Companies were bringing Black employees to Austin, but underutilizing their skill sets when they arrived. Feeling more like guests than active community members, those employees packed up and looked for a new place to hit the ground running.

Creech realized Black Austinites needed their own program like Leadership Austin, so he connected with BiNi Coleman, a strategist who prioritized Black leadership through her organization 212 Catalysts. Partnering with Leadership Austin to create a parallel system, the pair started AALI to target exceptional leaders through its annual Leadership Cohort. This group of annual fellows learns how to engage in intensive community building and “deep dives” into multiple issue areas — all with a lens toward the Black community in Central Texas.

In just two years, AALI has seen in its first two groups that a third of participants say they were thinking of leaving Austin, but decided to stay. To find people willing to offer the vulnerability to apply even while feeling untethered from the Austin community, AALI had to drop some pretenses that other organizations may use to ensure commitment to applying.

“[The] AALI launch committee … determined for one that our Northstar metric should be connection: Addressing this lack of belonging in the community,” says Coleman, now AALI’s CEO. “If people emphasize that they feel a greater sense of connection to the Black community, or the overall community, we are doing our jobs. So far, that's never been less [affirmative feedback] than 96 percent or so.”

The only eligibility requirement is that participants must live in the Austin MSA (the Austin-Round Rock-San Marcos metropolitan area). The organization waived the minimum years of residence requirement. Applications could be written or recorded via video, to ensure that different communication styles made their strongest possible impacts. It’s working.

“We've had people that range from being … essentially homeless, and made it in AALI because they are relentless about being out in the community, and delivering basic needs to families and things of that nature,” says Coleman. “And then we have people that are corporate VPs, and we have people who are executive directors of nonprofits. In our inaugural year we had [Austin ISD Police Chief] Wayne Sneed, for instance. It really ranges the gamut.”

The 2023 fellows are no exception: Announced in January, the group of 34 includes an associate professor addressing education policy and philanthropy, the CPO of the Boys & Girls Club of Austin, the director of the Downtown Austin Alliance, a doula, multiple school principals, and more. Throughout the program, these Fellows’ main objective is to get to know each other and make themselves known, so when program leaders can offer connections to outside organizations, they know who to recommend. Coleman tells a story about Aaron Demerson of the Texas Workforce Commission speaking at a session, and having a meeting booked with one of the fellows within "a couple of hours."

AALI has further expanded its outreach by launching a one-day event, Black X Conference, which allows anyone who registers to join and make connections whether or not they plan to pursue a fellowship. Scheduled annually for the Friday leading into the Juneteenth holiday, this year's Black X Conference is set for June 16.

"People ... seem to just really enjoy it and it lights a fire beyond just connecting with each other" says Coleman. "They learn about all these different issue areas and the Black community history and lens ... and then they're connected. So now if they choose to activate, they'd have what they need: They've got the information, they're aware. They know where to get more information."

More information about the African American Leadership Institute (AALI), including a full list of 2023 fellows with LinkedIn pages, is available at aaliaustin.org.