Photo by Justin Wallace on Unsplash

Austin is already set to become the third biggest metro area by the year 2100, but what about on a much smaller scale? A new report has found the state capital will take the gold as the fastest-growing large metro area in the country by 2028, with two other Texas metros close behind.

Austin-Round Rock-Georgetown's total population in 2023 adds up to nearly 2.4 million people, according to the population growth analysis by Site Selection Group. With a projected population growth rate of 13.55 percent (the highest out of all metro areas), that means Austin's population in the next five years could balloon to more than 2.7 million people.

"Most population growth is occurring across the Sun Belt," the report's author says. "Specific to the large metro areas, eight of the top 10 growth markets are located within the Sun Belt [such as] Florida, North Carolina, Tennessee and Texas."

Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land landed right behind Austin as the predicted second-fastest growing large metro area. The projected 9.62 percent growth rate means the metro's current population of 7.3 million will expand to over 8 million people in the next five years.

Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington also made it into the top five; a 8.64 percent growth rate will stretch the Metroplex from 7.8 million residents to nearly 8.5 million by 2028.

The top 10 fastest-growing large metro areas by 2028 are:

  • No. 1 – Austin-Round Rock-Georgetown
  • No. 2 – Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land
  • No. 3 – Nashville-Davidson-Murfeesboro-Franklin, Tennessee
  • No. 4 – Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina
  • No. 5 – Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington
  • No. 6 – Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford, Florida
  • No. 7 – Salt Lake City, Utah
  • No. 8 – Charlotte-Concord-Castonia, North Carolina-South Carolina
  • No. 9 – Jacksonville, Florida
  • No. 10 – Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, Washington

The report was used to discover the American metro areas that will have the most "favorable long-term labor conditions." Each metro area was categorized into one of three groups based on overall population size: large (over 1 million people), mid-size (between 500,000 and 999,999 people), and small (between 250,000 and 499,999 people).

"Although population growth does not guarantee success with hiring and retaining employees, it does provide validation that labor conditions could be trending in a more favorable direction," the report says.

An hour north from Austin, Killeen-Temple ranked the No. 8 fastest-growing small metro area. Killeen-Temple is expected to climb 7.35 percent from 479,286 residents to 514,514 by 2028.

Photo courtesy of Yummi Joy

Toy Joy and Yummi Joy relocate to bigger play space on Burnet Road, plus more top stories

Hot Headlines

Editor’s note: It’s that time again — time to check in with our top stories. From Austin real estate, to the reasons people want to live here in the first place, here are five articles that captured our collective attention over the past seven days.

1. Toy Joy and Yummi Joy relocate to bigger play space on Burnet Road. The cult-favorite toy store is getting a much larger space in North Austin. That means more room for events, and the candy store is going, too.

2. Tenacious D will play the best song in the world in Austin this fall. Jack Black and Kyle Glass will grace Austin with their rock godly presence this September at Germania Insurance Amphitheater.

3. Austin earned top 10 rank for highest number of build-to-rent homes last year. This makes sense for a city with as many transplants and students as Austin has. A total of 324 build-to-rent homes were completed here in 2022.

4. Austin nests top 10 spot in new rank of best U.S. cities for birdwatching. There's always something new and shiny to spend money on in Austin. Why not appreciate our bird life for free?

5. Georgetown breaks ground on phase 3 of San Gabriel Park improvements. Better roadways, parking, a multi-use performance pavilion, and more are planned. It should be finished by spring 2024.


Georgetown breaks ground on phase 3 of San Gabriel Park improvements


Earlier in June, the City of Georgetown broke ground on the third phase of improvements to San Gabriel Park, with construction expected to be finished by spring 2024.

“San Gabriel Park is a beautiful place to visit, and it’s something that’s important to our residents,” said Eric Nuner, Parks and Recreation Department assistant director in a release. “We’re proud of these improvements and what they’ve done to create spaces for people to get outside and enjoy themselves.”

The 180-acre park is home to several 200-year-old oak trees, a hike and bike trail, and a 1.6-mile loop that connects to three nearby parks and Lake Georgetown. The park accommodates many outdoor recreational activities, such as disc golf, baseball, basketball, soccer, and more.

San Gabriel Park is also a Lone Star Legacy Park, as designated in 2012 by the Texas Recreation and Parks Society. It is one of the highest honors a park can receive; there are only 65 Lone Star Legacy Parks in Texas.

In addition to improving the roadways and parking (which will hopefully help future installments of Two Step Inn), a few of the new amenities under development include:

  • Multi-use performance pavilion
  • Splash pad plaza
  • Monuments at the entryways
  • Shade shelters
  • New restrooms
  • New skate park
Temple-based contractors Choice Builders LLC were chosen by the Georgetown City Council to take on the $7.5 million project. Funding comes from a bond was approved by voters back in 2008.
Visitors will still have access to the park, although there will be occasional closures or detours during the construction period. The release states an unnamed portion of the park loop trail will close from time to time.

More information about San Gabriel Park can be found on georgetown.org.


Charming Austin suburb is the fastest-growing city in the country, with neighbors close behind


We already know things are changing in Texas at large, but how about just outside of Austin? Now, six out of the 15 fastest-growing cities in the United States are in Texas, and three Austin-area suburbs made it into the top five: Georgetown, Kyle, and Leander. The U.S. Census Bureau's latest findings add more validity to reports that less people are interested in living in Austin proper, and are seeking residence in the suburbs.

“Georgetown, Texas, [had] the highest rate of growth among all U.S. cities and towns with at least 50,000 people,” said Crystal Delbé, a statistician in the Census Bureau’s Population Division.

Georgetown had a 14.4-percent population increase from 2021 to 2022, bringing the city's total population to more than 86,500 residents. That's a growth of nearly 10,900, which puts Georgetown at No. 10 on the list of numerical increases (as opposed to proportional growth). For scale, the report lists Austin at 1.0 million.

Kyle and Leander landed in No. 3 and No. 4 with the same population growth rate of 10.9 percent. Kyle's total population in 2022 was just under 57,500, while Leander's reached 74,375 residents.

The top 10 fastest-growing large cities in the U.S. are:

  • No. 1 – Georgetown, Texas
  • No. 2 – Santa Cruz, California
  • No. 3 – Kyle, Texas
  • No. 4 – Leander, Texas
  • No. 5 – Little Elm, Texas
  • No. 6 – Westfield, Indiana
  • No. 7 – Queen Creek, Arizona
  • No. 8 – North Port, Florida
  • No. 9 – Cape Coral, Florida
  • No. 10 – Port St. Lucie, Florida

In an overall analysis of the 15 largest American cities in 2022, Austin barely made it into the top 10 with a population of 974,447. Three Texas cities ranked higher, with Houston earning No. 4 with its population of over 2.3 million people, San Antonio at No. 7 with over 1.47 million residents, and Dallas at No. 9 with a population of just under 1.3 million. Fort Worth ranked outside the top 10 at No. 13, with a population of 956,709.

The top 10 most populous American cities are:

  • No. 1 – New York City, New York
  • No. 2 – Los Angeles, California
  • No. 3 – Chicago, Illinois
  • No. 4 – Houston, Texas
  • No. 5 – Phoenix, Arizona
  • No. 6 – Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • No. 7 – San Antonio, Texas
  • No. 8 – San Diego, California
  • No. 9 – Dallas, Texas
  • No. 10 – Austin, Texas

The report additionally discovered that housing inventory skyrocketed by 1.6 million units between 2021 and 2022. Texas had the third fastest housing growth with a rate of 2.3 percent, versus Utah, which had the fastest growth at 3.3 percent. Travis County had the third highest numeric gains in housing units in the nation, only to be beat by Maricopa County in Arizona (No. 2) and Harris County (No. 1).

Austin didn't make the cut in the list of the 10 most populous U.S. metro areas (as opposed to the cities, themselves), but Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington ranked No. 4, and Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land ranked No. 5.

The full report can be found on census.gov.

Photo courtesy of the Georgetown Red Poppy Festival

Texans pop over to Georgetown for the annual Red Poppy Festival

seeing red

The signature blue and pink wildflowers seem to have faded from most of Austin proper, but things have turned red in Georgetown. This field day won't put you to sleep, though. The Georgetown Red Poppy Festival brings a parade, music, and more for a lovely suburban retreat from April 28-30.

The main draw are, of course, the bright blooms that visitors can tour using a map of about 100 square blocks. These flowers, which were sent home to Georgetown from Belgium by a soldier during WWI, are now maintained by civilians with an interest in preserving local history. Seed packets to plant in November are available at the Georgetown Visitors Center.

Besides the self-guided flower tour, the flowers are mostly a springboard into Central Texans' favorite things and outdoor festival staples. Some Texans may have visited the suburb earlier in April for the inaugural Two Step Inn festival, which brought some big names in country music and crowds befitting the lineup. The Red Poppy Festival takes a much more local approach for a lower-key visit.

Friday's schedule stays short and simple, with a food and artisan market starting at 6 pm and a concert by funky Austin-based "show band" Dysfunkshun Junkshun at 7 pm.

Saturday is the main event, kicking off at 10 am with a parade and market, and a car show an hour later with awards in the afternoon). The rest of the day belongs to the music, with song and dance performances from jazz bands, local theater groups, Ford Elementary, and more. Children are welcome and invited to hang out at the the "Kids Zone" both weekend days. The main concert, starting at 6 pm, features Alphine band Walburg Boys, country singer Wynn Williams, and well-known Texas folk duo Jamestown Revival.

On Sunday, stunts are pulled at multiple BMX shows and maybe even by talented furry guests at the pet parade. Kids into heavy machinery can get up close and personal with a variety of city and construction vehicles during "Touch-A-Truck," and visitors of all ages may see something culturally new to them including clogging, Zydeco (Louisiana Creole folk), and Indian street dancers.

This is a good excuse to wander around the small town, and the festival provides a guide to local eateries and hotels. It also offers a free shuttle on Saturday.

More information about the festival, schedules, and the surrounding area is available at poppy.georgetown.org.


Fulfill your bookish dreams at these 8 independent bookstores around Austin


Who doesn’t love curling up with a good book? The smell of crisp, white pages and the feeling of staying up late at night to finish a chapter is something only true book lovers understand. Plus, taking an “innocent trip” to your local independent bookstore or public library and leaving with an armful of new books is a next-level feeling of excitement, wallet woes aside.

With Independent Bookstore Day coming up on Saturday, April 29, we’ve rounded up plenty of fun indie shops for locals and visitors to explore. And fun fact, most of these shops were founded by women. Here’s a look at eight Austin area bookstores for all of your bookish needs. Support local, y’all.

South Congress Books
Sheri Tornatore, the owner of South Congress Books, has been sharing collectible, vintage books and art for over 30 years. Book lovers will find unique photography, artwork, posters, vinyl records, and much more in addition to their carefully-curated book selection. As CultureMap reported, the shop recently moved to a new location on Kerbey Lane in Central Austin after being "priced out" of their original location on their namesake street.

Austin’s iconic feminist bookstore is celebrating 47 years of operation this year. The shop specializes in works written by female, nonbinary, and queer authors. They host virtual book talks, clubs, and meetups throughout the month. Masks are required at BookWoman, so plan accordingly (they do provide some at the door if you forget your own).

Vintage Bookstore and Wine Bar
This bookstore combines two wonderful ideas: wine drinking and reading. Just don’t spill your glass! Vintage is Austin’s first independent bookstore and wine bar, all in one place. Enjoy your favorite glass of white or red while curled up with your next read in one of their many picture-worthy reading spots. They also offer non-alcoholic beverages for those who want to have an inebriation-free experience. They’re located in the historic 1800’s Haehnel building at the corner of East 11th Street and Waller Street.

Reverie Books
This South Austin neighborhood bookstore might be on the newer side, but it’s definitely a fantastical escape from the towering high rises downtown. Reverie focuses on the local community through school internship and giveback programs. They also spotlight marginalized voices with their book selection, featuring topics from social justice to banned books.

Black Pearl Books
What started as a primarily online store and pop-up shop is now a busy brick-and-mortar on Burnet Road. Black-woman-owned Black Pearl Books is a family-run business that brings the voices of other Black authors to the table. Banned books also make up the stock on their shelves, and the owners raise awareness for improving Texas' literacy rates through events and their nonprofit, Put It in A Book.

If you’re not aware of the largest independent bookstore in the state of Texas, what rock are you living under? BookPeople has been leading the way for other local shops since it was founded in 1970. The store has two floors filled with thousands of books and gifts. They also have an extensive events calendar with plenty of book clubs, family friendly activities, and meet-and-greets with local and nationally recognized authors.

Belzel Books
This shop is the perfect place for all of your tattoo ideas and reference needs. Wendy Belzel founded her namesake bookstore over two decades ago to inspire local tattoo artists with hand-curated reference books. The store currently carries over 400 titles on its shelves, and has provided a personal delivery service since its inception.

Lark and Owl Booksellers
Though they're not in Austin, we would be remiss to exclude one of the most proudly progressive bookshops in Georgetown. From their unique events like their recent "Retro Prom at the Bookstore" to their trivia nights, Lark and Owl adds well-loved fun and whimsy to the downtown area. The shop is currently revitalizing their in-house cafe, Alouette Bistro, which will soon give patrons all the more reason to spend the day among the brightly-lit space full of friendly faces and familiar reads.

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10 restaurant and bar openings — including a pop-up — top Austin's tastiest food news

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

ICYMI: Buckle in for tons of openings this week. During our busy week we covered the opening date for Radio/East, which is the highly anticipated expansion of Radio Coffee & Beer; the arrival of Tarbox & Brown, a San Marcos restaurant with lots of cultural influences, led by a chef with South African and Chinese roots; and the debut of Bacalar, a Mexican restaurant that marks the return of a former Top Chef winner to the Austin food scene. We also heard about a secretive new speakeasy, Trona, from an entrepreneur with a very cool track record. But there's more we haven't told you about yet.

First-year Texas Longhorn player Deandre Moore just got a check for his "name, image, and likeness," and used that money to open the Jive Turkeyfood truck (1637 E. Riverside Dr.). And even cooler — he hired his mom. Taleea Moore is cooking up lots of turkey dishes, inspired by the family's athletic at-home eating that has long subbed out poultry for beef. There are only three regular menu items so far: a turkey burger (of course), a Thanksgiving-inspired cornbread comfort bowl, and a deep-fried turkey taco. The rest are seasonal treats.

Austin could always use more cool cocktail spots — they book up fast on the weekend — so people are excited to welcome Daydreamer, a "cocktail and champagne bar." (That's not to be confused with Daydreamer Coffee, which opened last year.) There's lots to dream about, but most appealing is that this venture comes from the minds of a whole bunch of industry vets from very cool spots all around Austin. Follow your dreams to 1708 E. 6th St.

Longtime Austin establishmentJuliet Italian Kitchen, also known for dreamy vibes thanks to pretty interior design and a great location in the Zilker area, is expanding into Georgetown. The stylish vibes will continue at 701 S. Main St., in Georgetown's Old Masonic Lodge Building, which was built in 1900. This will be the restaurant's third location, and will include an upstairs bar and dining area, plus a patio, seating 188 guests in total.

The team behind Drinks Lounge just launched Drinks Backyard, bringing even more casual vibes to South Austin — where they'll really be appreciated. Located at a former liquor store (6328 S. Hwy. 183), this bar takes advantage of the two acres around it with a stage, covered lounge seating, and a 14-foot TV for sports and movies. The bar and patio are open now, but the backyard is still getting ready. Eventually, it will welcome guests under 21 and pets. Smokin' Brew-B-Q is the first food truck onsite, with more coming soon.

We focused on other things last week, but two casual chains shared news we don't want to gloss over. Graze Craze, a charcuterie shop, has opened its first location in the Austin area, in Lakeway (2127 Lohman’s Crossing Rd., Ste. 304). The company takes its meat-cheese-and-other-snacks curating very seriously, and these gargantuan charcuteries are sure to impress large parties.

Similarly, Seattle-based Eastern European pie-maker Piroshky Piroshky is making its Texas debut — but in this case, they're not sticking around. Catch the pop-up in Austin on October 6 to see why this bakery is popular enough to pull off a national tour. The team is posting locations as they go on Instagram.

Radio Coffee brings the brews to new East Austin shop and music venue in October

going live in the fall

When it comes to expanding the influence of coffee connoisseurs in Austin, there's room for everyone on the East Side.

One East Austin coffee shop just changed hands for a fancy rebrand, and another recently expanded out of the area into Buda. Cosmic Coffee, a South Austin staple, blew everyone out of the water with a gorgeous, sprawling industrial complex on East 4th Street, and now another neighboring coffee and beer combo is following suit.

Radio/East, a second location spun off from the original music-loving Radio Coffee & Beer, will open its doors at 3504 Montopolis Dr. in East Austin on Wednesday, October 18.

The new family- and dog-friendly space sprawls across two acres, which is divvied up among a 1,200-square-foot indoor coffee shop, indoor and outdoor live music stages, and a food truck park. Guests will be able to order their favorite drinks from the indoor counter, or they can choose to order from either of the two outdoor windows that open to the grand shaded backyard. And we can't forget one of the more rare features: plenty of parking for customers.

Radio's founding father-son duo Jack and Greg Wilson brought on two new partners — Trey Hudson and Nine Mile Records owner Rick Pierik — in the hopes of developing and maintaining this new spot as a community-focused space, much like the beloved original.

“With the new space, we’ve been able to create a through line to the existing concept of Radio,” said Hudson in a release. “With Radio/East we tried to listen to what the Montopolis community needed and we hope that we can be as central to this neighborhood as we have been to the area around Menchaca.”

Pierik will be the driving force behind Radio/East's musical events. Local musicians and touring bands will all get their chance to take the stage with four nights of performances planned indoors and outdoors beginning on Thursdays.

With Austin's wide-ranging music taste, Pierik will seek to reflect the city's musical diversity with every show.

"Jack Wilson and I are looking to bring together diverse programing from every corner of the music industry, booking up-and-coming national and international acts alongside all of the amazing Austin talent we've known and admired for years," said Pierik. "We're especially committed to helping local artists develop their fanbases through quality concert experiences and eclectic bills."

A list of events following Radio/East's grand opening is as follows:

  • October 19 – Sunrosa with Guma and Feeling Small
  • October 20 – Redbud with Mockjaw, Tearjerk, and Creekbed Carter Hogan
  • October 21 – Peachfuzz 10th Anniversary Party featuring The Texas Gentleman, Brown Burlesque, Lady Dan, and a to-be-announced special guest
  • October 28 – First Annual Radio/East Chili Cook Off and the Austin Flea, featuring Mother Neff, The Push & Shove, and Sour Bridges
  • October 31 – A Rocky Horror Halloween featuring A Giant Dog with Trouble in the Streets
  • November 11 – A Free Lunch Benefit featuring Caroline Rose and BRUCE
  • November 17 – Money Chicha with The Tiarras

Tickets for the upcoming shows can be purchased online beginning Friday, September 29.

In addition to keeping Radio/East music-focused, visitors can expect to see some classic beverages on the menu, with a few new twists to keep customers coming back. The new location will have two tap towers with eight craft beer taps, four rotating specialty draft cocktails, and plenty of wine to go around.

Radio/EastGet a local favorite beer on draft, or try a new specialty draft cocktail.Photo by Renee Dominguez

Bar Manager Jacob Biggie has been hard at work to develop new creative cocktails for the new location, including Phantom Mood (Still Austin Gin, hibiscus, lime, and cucumber with soda) and Sensitive Artist (Senza Maeso hybrid spirit, Aperol, St. Germain, lime juice). Guests can also try the new seasonal non-alcoholic highball, dubbed the Chai-ball.

The lineup of food vendors at the new East Austin digs include Veracruz All Natural with its binge-worthy tacos; organic pizza slices from Side Eye Slice (a sister concept to Side Eye Pie); and Radio's own food truck – Shortwave Diner – offering classic American diner fare and comfort food such as smash burgers, fried chicken sandwiches, hot dogs, chicken and waffles, and more.

Following the grand opening at 7 am on October 18, Radio/East's operating hours will be 7 am to 1 am Monday through Saturday, and 7 am to 10 pm on Sundays.

Austin is No. 12 in the U.S. with the highest number of 'unretirees'

Office News

Many Austin seniors are still punching the clock well past retirement age. According to "Cities with the Most Working Seniors," a new employment study by business website ChamberofCommerce.org, more than a quarter of Austin seniors aged 65 and up are still employed, making it the No. 12 city in the U.S. with the most working seniors.

More than 25,400 Austin seniors aged 65 and up are employed out of a total 93,861, or 27.1 percent of the city's senior population.

The No. 1 city in the U.S. with hard-working oldsters is Alexandria, Virginia, located in the Washington, DC metropolitan area, where 36.8 percent of its seniors still employed. Coming in second was Tallahassee, Florida, with 30.9 percent. In third place was Dallas, with 30.3 percent of the senior population clocking in for work around the city.

To determine their ranking, the site examined the percentage of seniors aged 65 and over who were actively employed within the last 12 months, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Their analysis included data from 170 of the nation’s most populous cities.

The report says the median household income of a senior citizen in Austin is $58,546, and hints at the rising cost of living coupled with personal extenuating circumstances leading to a new trend of "unretiring" seniors within the local workforce.

"Deciding when to retire is one of the most important financial and personal decisions that workers can make," the report's author said. "Before making the leap, make sure you have factored in your savings, social security benefits, spending habits, economic volatility, and how your social life will change after retirement."

Also in Central Texas, San Antonio ranked No. 82 overall with 22.1 percent of the senior population currently in the workforce. Although that seems like a smaller number of people, it's actually much larger than Austin, with 41,918 seniors toiling away out of a total 189,544.

San Antonio's relatively high percentage of working seniors might come as a surprise, considering the city was named one of the best cities for retirees earlier in 2023.

The top 10 U.S. cities with the most working seniors are:

  • No. 1 – Alexandria, Virginia
  • No. 2 – Tallahassee, Florida
  • No. 3 – Dallas, Texas
  • No. 4 – Irvine, California
  • No. 5 – Washington, D.C.
  • No. 6 – Plano, Texas
  • No. 7 – Anchorage, Alaska
  • No. 8 – Minneapolis, Minnesota
  • No. 9 – Overland Park, Kansas
  • No. 10 – Madison, Wisconsin

ChamberofCommerce.org is a digital site for small business owners and entrepreneurs. The full report and its methodology can be found on chamberofcommerce.org.