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Photo by Kieone Young Photography

The latest win in Latina representation has been earned by an Austinite. At this year’s pageant, Austin entrepreneur Christabell Nuñez won the crown as the Mrs. Texas Plus America 2023.

The faith-based Miss America Plus Pageant has celebrated “full-figured” women and given them recognition for causes they support since its founding in 2002, according to a press release. Nuñez is the first woman of color from Austin to take home the Texas crown in the pageant’s 21-year history.

Nuñez's roots in Austin's Latino culture run deep. She was born and raised in East Austin, which is largely known for its wide Hispanic culture and communities. She said in the release that her decision to compete became clear after she noticed a lack of representation of plus-sized Hispanic women in the pageant.

“I am a fierce advocate for body positivity and normalizing mental health discussions in Latin culture, and provide mentorships and business advice for people of color-owned small businesses,” she said.

Her platform is Austin's Hispanic Women’s Network of Texas, which promotes the inclusion and advancement of Hispanic women in “public, corporate and civic life.”

This year’s pageant took place in Houston, which is where the national Miss Plus America Pageant will take place in the summer. Nuñez shared her gratitude for winning the Texas pageant and her vision to represent the state in the national competition.

“While I love the gowns and glam, I am blessed to have this opportunity to make a positive impact beyond the city of Austin,” said Nuñez. “I am excited to compete at the Miss Plus America Pageant this July in Houston and showcase the diversity, strength, and beauty of plus-size Texas women and make us proud.”

The national competition will take place July 17-23. More information about the Miss Plus America Pageant can be found on missplusamerica.com.

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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.