Checking out Austin's first Foxtrot, the Chicago-based market with a cult following
No Fox Given
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.