Courtesy of rag & bone

If there's anything South Congress needs, it's more luxury shopping options. And if you didn't detect that hint of sarcasm, you're in luck — especially if you love out-of-state transplants. New York-based fashion brand rag & bone is joining the mix at Music Lane.

Tucked into a pocket behind iconic South Congress Avenue, rag & bone is located at 1011 South Congress Ave., Building 2, Suite 155. The Music Lane outpost is the brand's first location in Austin — and third in Texas.

Started in New York in 2002, rag & bone combines English heritage with directional design and has "become synonymous with innately wearable clothing that has an edgy yet understated New York aesthetic," notes a release.

Featuring a mix of signature rag & bone touches with new and subtle twists, the 2,274-square foot store carries men's and women's ready-to-wear denim, footwear, and accessories collections.

The store will also offer customers private appointments in person, as well as virtual appointments, consignment, store pickup, and shipping.

“We are thrilled to add rag & bone to the tenant mix at MusicLane,” said Turnbridge Equities Director of Marketing, Mallory Miller. “We have such an incredible community of retailers, restaurants, and businesses here at Music Lane and rag & bone is the perfect addition to the development.”

Photo courtesy of H-E-B

H-E-B rings up No. 1 ranking in new study of online grocers

E-commerce excellence

Texas' favorite grocery store has once again bagged a big honor in the grocery business.

In its inaugural study of e-commerce retailers that sell groceries, “customer science” company dunnhumby ranks H-E-B as the best online grocer in the U.S. It beat retail giants Amazon, Amazon Fresh, Walmart, and Walmart-owned Sam’s Club to claim the top spot.

“Although the dominance of Amazon and Walmart in the online space might not come as a surprise, H-E-B stands out in first place,” the study says, “and it is worth highlighting the regional grocer has the best emotional connection … out of all of the retailers in this study.”

Here are H-E-B’s top rankings in the study:

  • First place for ease of using the H-E-B app.
  • First place for ease of paying for purchases.
  • First place for on-time order deliveries.
  • Second place for accuracy of charges.
  • Second place for speed of online shopping.
  • Second place for convenience of pickup and delivery time slots.
  • Second place for convenient location of brick-and-mortar stores.

Overall, H-E-B earns high marks for customer sentiment and financial performance in the online grocery category. Despite the “colossal size” of Amazon and Walmart, the study says, H-E-B stands tall “based largely on the strength of their customer value proposition.”

The study notes that H-E-B also excels in the online grocery department as compared with other regional grocers, such as Kroger.

“H-E-B distinguishes itself from other regional retailers for having great digital assets that customers prefer when grocery shopping for its ease of use and reliability,” the study says. “H-E-B customers trust its platforms and its ability to fulfill their online orders.”

The shoutout in the dunnhumby study is one of several accolades H-E-B has collected in recent years. For example:

  • Earlier this year, dunnhumby named H-E-B the second best grocery retailer in the U.S., behind Amazon.
  • H-E-B tied for second place in a 2020 ranking by Market Force of the top U.S. grocers for customer loyalty. Market Force measures the customer experience at retail stores, coffee shops, and restaurants.
  • Two years ago, Food & Wine anointed H-E-B the king of grocers in the U.S.
Photo courtesy of Netflix

Queer Eye star Bobby Berk dishes on his favorite places in Austin

An eye for nice things

Queer Eye decor guru Bobby Berk has spent more time in Austin than many visitors do. Off and on, he and the rest of the Queer Eye cast stayed in Austin for a number of months to film the sixth season of the Netflix lifestyle and fashion makeover show.

Armed with his insider-like knowledge of Austin, Berk has compiled a new list of his favorite spots for eating, drinking, shopping, recreating, and resting your head. The list appears on Flipboard; Berk is guest curator of Flipboard’s travel newsletter, Wanderlust.

With this list, "I’m giving you a peek into all the things I absolutely adore about Austin,” Houston-born Berk says.

Here’s a rundown of Berk’s picks for grabbing a drink or a bite to eat in Austin, along with his commentary about each place.

El Arroyo
This Tex-Mex institution is most well known for its witty signs (where the Fab Five and I posed for pics). But you also need to try the amazing food — and probably loosen your belt when you’re done."

The Roosevelt Room
For a special cocktail, head to the Roosevelt Room. This elegant speakeasy has stylish interiors and even better drinks (and also offers options to go)."

Café No Sé
A bright and beautiful all-day café with something for everyone (including some mouth-watering desserts)."

Container Bar (now permanently closed)
One of the most unique bars I’ve ever seen, it’s constructed entirely of shipping containers. A great spot to unwind after a long day of work — or, you know, transforming the homes of heroes."

Fresa’s Chicken al Carbon
You’ll find amazing, fresh, and flavorful Mexican at Fresa’s. The Achiote and Citrus chicken is truly the stuff of food fantasies!"

Berk’s shopping selections are:

  • Four Hands Home, a home furnishings retailer
  • Nannie Inez (now online-only), a home goods store
  • Room Service Vintage, a retailer of vintage furniture, lamps, jewelry, clothing, and home décor
  • Stag Provisions, a men’s clothing shop
  • Daughters, a women’s clothing shop

Berk’s recreation picks are:

  • B Cycle, a bike rental service
  • Icosa Collective, an artist-run nonprofit gallery
  • Zilker Park
  • Barton Springs Pool

Berk’s lodging choices are:

  • The Proper Austin
  • Hotel Magdalena
  • Hotel San José
  • AC Hotel
  • The Carpenter Hotel
Photo courtesy of Room & Board

2 modern furniture makers nail down new showrooms in Austin

Desirable décor

Two high-end furniture retailers are moving into Austin with new locations.

Herman Miller, which specializes in Eames chairs and other classically designed office furnishings, just opened a 1,120-square-foot store at 500 N. Lamar Blvd. Herman Miller’s other Austin location is at Domain Northside; it opened in December 2020.

“We’re excited to continue our Texas presence with the opening of our second Austin location. With the city’s extensive industry and urban expansion, Herman Miller is proud to bring a unique retail experience to both new and returning customers in the community,” says Debbie Propst, president of global retail at MillerKnoll, which owns Herman Miller.

Additionally, on February 11, home furnishings retailer Room & Board will open its first Austin store at Domain Northside. The store encompasses 12,000 square feet.

To celebrate its entry into the Austin market, Room & Board has donated $30,000 to the Austin Parks Foundation.

“We know our Austin store will be well-received because the people here share our passion for environmental responsibility, sustainability, timeless design, and home décor,” says Jessica Harrison, Room & Board’s retail market manager in Austin. “This is a vibrant, stimulating city with a thriving economy. We are here to stay; Austin is our new home.”

The Room & Board showroom opens in Austin on February 11.

Photo courtesy of Room & Board
The Room & Board showroom opens in Austin on February 11.
Photo by Harper Smith

Austin-based Outdoor Voices makes big moves with latest partnership

Doing Things

Outdoor Voices is sashaying into the new year with a big-name partnership and a two-day virtual dance event. The Austin-based athleisure brand is partnering with Nordstrom to launch in eight stores across the nation, including the brand's hometown of Austin, it announced January 5.

Each store will carry 40 pieces from the brand's capsule collection — think the Exercise Dress, the color-block leggings, the Athena crop — in both women's and men's styles. Sizes range from XS to XL.

Select styles of HOKA ONE ONE shoes, another OV collaborator and cult favorite among athletes, are also available.

"As a brand on a mission to get the world moving, we are excited to partner with Nordstrom to bring our #DoingThings movement to a broader audience," said Ashley Merrill, executive chairwoman at Outdoor Voices, in a release.

In Texas, the line is now available in Austin's Barton Creek Nordstrom, as well as department stores in New York City; Los Angeles; Tyson's Corner, Virginia; Scottsdale, Arizona; Oakbrook, Illinois; Walnut Creek, California; and Bellevue, Washington, near the department store's hometown of Seattle.

Outdoor Voices is also now available nationwide online through Nordstrom.com, the brand's exclusive retail partner.

“We’re really excited to be Outdoor Voices’ retail partner of choice and introduce their activewear to our Nordstrom customers,” said Lori Marten, vice president and divisional merchandise manager for active, specialized and performance at Nordstrom. “We love Outdoor Voices’ message of #DoingThings daily and freeing fitness from performance."

In celebration of the collaboration, Outdoor Voices and Nordstrom are hosting a two-day virtual event to bring "iconic NYC dance classes to your living room."

Keomi Tarver from Mark Morris Dance Center and Yin Yue from Gibney Dance Center will host live classes January 19 and 21. Both upcoming classes are free and reservations will open January 11 here.

Courtesy photo

Trendy online retailer picks iconic Austin lane for first Texas location

no postage required

Everlane, meet Music Lane. The online retailer for hip people everywhere officially opened in the new South Congress development on Tuesday, September 2, offering just enough time to grab your silk-box tanks and high-waisted pants for Labor Day.

But first, a little primer: Everlane began as an online retailer, and quickly morphed into the de facto choice for women of a certain style at relatively affordable price points. They sell beautifully crafted basics — T-shirts, button-downs, jeans, slides — in neutral tones, kind of like what an art director at a magazine would wear. (Incidentally, a magazine art director is exactly who first introduced me to Everlane.)

Of course, the No. 1 downside of buying clothes online is not being able to try them on. No. 2 is letting the returns pile up in your closet for months at a time. Luckily, the new South Austin shop — the brand's first in Texas — helps eliminate both of these hurdles.

According to a press release, the retail space features seven fitting rooms, which can be reserved via a text message system. Customers can use the system to "hold" their place in line and then get a text when their room is ready. Customers can also check online to see if the item they want is in the store before heading out.

Another feature of the brick-and-mortar shop is that it allows Everlane fans to purchase from both online and in-store. If something isn't in stock, have it shipped to the Austin location to try on. And, for a limited time, the shop is offering curbside pickups, exchanges, and returns, meaning you can finally get rid of that pile of would-be returns.

The design of the new 2,200-square-foot South Congress shop is of course a reflection of the brand's aesthetic. Neutral colors and materials accented with utilitarian fixtures are offset by natural light, which "stream[s] in from the spacious front windows."

Everlane's newest location at 1011 South Congress Ave. is open every day from 11 am-7 pm.

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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.