100% Austin news, info, and entertainment, straight to your inbox at 6 a.m. every morning.
In five minutes, you're fully informed and ready to start another great day in our city.
7 Asian-owned businesses to support during (and after) Asian-American and Pacific Islander heritage month
May is Asian-American and Pacific Islander heritage month, so if you love boba tea, ramen noodles, bento boxes and kawaii culture, it's time to show the businesses that offer these treats a little extra love.
With the spread of COVID-19, acts of racism and xenophobia have been on the rise all over the world sparking a movement, #StopAsianHate, to combat the violence. In honor of Asian-American and Pacific Islander heritage month, stop by one (or all) of these locally-owned businesses, which make the city more delicious, artistic and diverse.
This family-owned café is looking to create a home-away-from-home, and it is succeeding. A comfortable atmosphere, delicious coffee and tea drinks and a full menu of breakfast, lunch and pastries are what you'll find inside this Vietnamese and French café. The shop's rotating menu reflects the owners' love of experimenting and keeps you guessing every time you come in and the latte art will keep you Instagramming. Café Crème also supports the community by sourcing locally, selling local art, keeping a free library for visitors and even welcomes people coming to work in the shop with a printing station.
Thanks to Chop Chop, noodle cups are no longer the safe option for lunch. Bringing authentic street noodles from all over Asia right here to Texas, Chop Chop makes its noodle cups using all-natural, fresh ingredients. Frozen, not freeze-dried like instant noodles, Chop Chop noodle cups are just as fast and completely plant-based. There are four flavors on the menu: Tom Yum, a Thai tomato and lime base; Kimchi Udon, a Korean-style broth with squash toppings; Tokyo Curry, soul food topped with carrots and mushrooms; and Penang Curry, an homage to the many curries of Southeast Asia.
Cookie Wookie Kitchen
You've never had cookies like this. Made using aged cookie dough, Cookie Wookie Kitchen makes cookie creations that delight. While the shop does carry classic flavors like chocolate chip and Texas sheet cookie, what makes this Cookie Wookie unique is the array of Asian American flavors. Ube coconut, black sesame cookies and cream, matcha pistachio and pandan cookies are all staple flavors but there are also three rotating flavors each month. May's special flavors: Thai tea mochi, tropical white chocolate macadamia and maple bacon.
East Side King
A much-celebrated source of Japanese soul food in Austin, East Side King has grown from a food truck to a full-fledged brick and mortar. Brought to you by Paul Qui and Moto Utsunomiya, who formerly worked at upscale sushi restaurants Uchi and Uchiko, the pair wanted to branch out and have fun with the food they were creating. As a result, the restaurant has made Austin's "fun-loving vibe" and fascination with live music central to its personality. All made with high-quality ingredients, Bento boxes, pork buns and red chili wontons are in your future.
Bringing curated antiques from all over Asia to the Lone Star State, Lotus Gallery collects pottery, paintings, sculptures, furnishings and everything in-between. The works are sourced from China, Japan, Singapore, Indonesia, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand and more, ranging from 206 B.C. to the present. Like most antique shops, picking up one of the pieces will cost a pretty penny but it will transport you back in time every time you see it in your home. You can even visit in person, 1009 West 6th Street.
These kawaii sweets are almost too cute to eat. Blending the limitations of an autoimmune disorder with a love of food, kawaii culture and Asian American heritage, OMG Squee makes everything gluten-free (yes, everything), in-house, from scratch. From mochi donuts to taiyaki to boba tea to macarons, everything is made in small batches with ingredients that are better for you and taste like 'the real thing,' so nothing is off the table. Try anything off the menu and you'll "squee," the bakery promises.
West China Tea
Started in 2012 by founder So-Han Fan, West China Tea is introducing the art of the tea ceremony to Austin and bringing people together in the process. The tea house believes that tea unites communities and sources its leaves directly from farms. Experience either self-serve tea, a guided tea session or a traditional tea ceremony when you visit. True lovers of tea can even take classes in Cha Yi and Gong Fu Cha, tea ceremony and tea service respectively, and become certified in the art.
- Pop-ups and partnerships: 5 new moves in Austin food - austonia ›
- Austin-based female influencers to follow on Instagram - austonia ›
- Charles Yu talks feeling invisible after Atlanta shootings - austonia ›
- Tso Chinese Delivery x Bom Bakeshop - austonia ›
Texas voters are split on whether Gov. Greg Abbott should run for a third term and whether Matthew McConaughey should run at all. But Democrats are clear: they want to see Beto O'Rourke on the ballot.
These are the findings of a Quinnipiac University poll of registered voters released this week.
Abbott and McConaughey received the highest favorability ratings of the elected officials, candidates and potential candidates, according to the Quinnipiac poll.
- Abbott: 49%
- McConaughey: 42%
- O'Rourke: 34%
- Former Texas GOP Chair Allen West: 25%
- Former Texas senator and Republican challenger Don Huffines: 8%
Overall, 48% say Abbott does not deserve to be reelected to a third term compared to 46% who say he does. "A Trump favorite in a state that is turning less red in recent election cycles, Abbott has a decent but in no way overwhelming grasp on reelection," Quinnipiac University Polling Analyst Tim Malloy said in a press release.
Abbott, McConaughey and Beto O'Rourke could vie for governor in 2022. (Office of the Texas Governor)
Voters are also divided on Matthew McConaughey, who is reportedly considering a gubernatorial run. Forty-one percent of voters say they would like to see him run, compared to 47% who say they wouldn't.
The poll found that Democrats and Independents favor the Oscar-winning Austinite, whose party affiliation is unclear. Forty-seven percent of Democrats would like to see him run, compared to 43% who wouldn't. Forty-four percent of Independents would, compared to 43% who wouldn't. Republicans, on the other hand, say 60%-29% they would not like to see him run.
Another possible candidate is former U.S. Representative and presidential hopeful Beto O'Rourke, who is also reportedly mulling a bid. Overall voters say 52%-41% they would not like to see him run for governor. But 77% of Democrats and 50% of Independents would, according to the poll.
"McConaughey and O'Rourke may still be on the fence, but their numbers suggest they have the attention of voters," Malloy said in the same release.
- Ted Cruz says Matthew McConaughey is a "formidable" candidate ... ›
- Abbott vs. Beto 2022: the race to become Texas Governor - austonia ›
- McConaughey mulls masking, running for Texas governor - austonia ›
- Most Austin voters support Matthew McConaughey for governor ... ›
- Texans vote McConaughey in latest governor poll - austonia ›
Austinites will soon be able to train like some of Hollywood's biggest stars as F45, a fitness franchise backed by major celebs, like Mark Wahlberg and David Beckham, is on its way to Austin.
F45 listed Austin as the location of its corporate headquarters in a June 21 federal filing—a big shift for the California company. The fitness franchise is preparing for its initial public offering, which will be as an Austin-based company.
F45 will be one of many California companies—Tesla, Oracle and Samsung—that have recently expanded in the Capital City. The company has several famous investors on its side—famed basketball player Earvin "Magic" Johnson and golfer Greg Norman in addition to Wahlberg and Beckham.
The fitness company is opening a 44,000-square-foot headquarters, located at Penn Field on 801 Barton Springs Road, with a lease running through 2029. F45 was one of the early adopters of Austin-based real estate-technology platform AnthemIQ, helping tenants find commercial real estate.
F45 focuses on one-on-one 45-minute workouts, which patrons watch on in-studio displays. With 2,247 franchise agreements spanning across 63 countries, F45 also has offices in Australia and England.
"We believe this flexibility will enable us to capitalize on our estimated long-term global opportunity of over 23,000 studios," the company said in its filing.
The greater Austin area already has 11 F45 locations, which take up 1,600 square feet of space each.
- Lone Star rivalry starts early for Austin FC in preseason cup - austonia ›
- Austin-based female influencers to follow on Instagram - austonia ›
- Carrie Underwood's fitness brand has a pop-up shop in Austin ... ›
The staffers are coming! Texas Lege staffers turn to Twitter after special session announcement, defunding
Texas Legislature staff members have taken to social media to raise awareness—and also just air their misfortunes—following the summer special session announcement and their own defunding.
In a game-seven-type move by Texas Democrats, the 87th Texas Legislative session was capped off by a last-minute walkout to avoid a final vote on a bill that would add restrictions to voting.
Needless to say, Gov. Greg Abbott—who cheerleaded the bill throughout the legislative session—was not thrilled.
Not up to date on your Texas Lege drama? Abbott was pointing to when former Texas State Senator Wendy Davis staged a dramatic hours-long filibuster over a 2013 abortion bill, which the public gallery aided. The "story" Abbott is referring to ended with him and other prominent conservatives sweeping the 2014 statewide election and the bill passing in a special session.
According to Abbott, the regular session centered around supporting "hardworking Texans and building a state that is safer, freer, healthier, and more prosperous."
However, the two items deemed at the top of Abbott's wish list for this session—election integrity and bail reform—did not reach his desk at the end of the session, both championed by Abbott to be "must-pass emergency items."
"It is deeply disappointing and concerning for Texans that neither reached my desk," Abbott said in a statement. "Ensuring the integrity of our elections and reforming a broken bail system remain emergencies in Texas, which is why these items, along with other priority items, will be added to the special session agenda."
Abbott said he expected lawmakers to work out their differences prior to the special session and continue to pass other emergency items and priority legislation.
So, everything is cool, right? No worries?
Hours before the no vote, as the clock ran out on the bill that he championed, Abbott tweeted that he would veto funding for the entire state legislative branch. The decision would impact not only Texas lawmakers but their staff and aides. "No pay for those who abandon their responsibilities," Abbott tweeted May 31.
I will veto Article 10 of the budget passed by the legislature. Article 10 funds the legislative branch. No pay… https://t.co/KNyuNvxP55— Greg Abbott (@Greg Abbott)1622484820.0
With pay, health insurance and other support for staffers on the line, the threats became a reality on June 18 with an official veto of the funds from Abbott.
The veto effectively nixes all funding for the legislative branch.
"Texans don't run from a legislative fight and we don't walk away from an unfinished business," Abbott wrote in the veto. "Funding should not be provided for those who quit their job early, leaving their state with unfinished business and exposing taxpayers to higher costs for an additional legislative session."
However, questions have been brought up over the constitutionality of the veto itself. Section 24 of the Texas Constitution makes not paying members of the legislature illegal.
The special session is set to begin July 8. So, what does this mean for lawmakers, staffers and aides?
No pay, no insurance... and Twitter followers?
The staffers took their final stand on Twitter where they aired their grievances with the situation and asked for followers to increase their footprint.
Meet Jen Ramos, a staff member for Texas State Senator Judith Zaffarini—and also defunded by Abbott.
My name is Jen. I’m one of the #txlege staffers defunded by Greg Abbott. Apparently now I’m supposed to ask for Tw… https://t.co/pteKADP3Hj— Jen Ramos ✨ (@Jen Ramos ✨)1624466531.0
And she's not alone. Use the hashtag #txlege and you'll find other similar messages online, like Camille's and Hector's and more.
My name is Camille, my friends call me Cam or Cammie. I’m one of the #txlege staffers defunded by Greg Abbott. And… https://t.co/mOvcjxTiUL— Camille Lasin (@Camille Lasin)1624474153.0
My name is Hector. I’m one of the #txlege staffers defunded by Greg Abbott and who had to deal with elections stuff… https://t.co/88PINm9KCv— Hector 🏙🤠 (@Hector 🏙🤠)1624466987.0
My name is Jake Salinas. I'm the TX Dem that saved the film industry in TX and broke quorum on SB7 Now our Gov h… https://t.co/PLf9ScA4Ev— Jake Salinas (@Jake Salinas)1624464237.0
It's unclear whether Abbott and other prominent Republican lawmakers will come together with Democrats to overturn the veto and continue providing insurance and regular pay for lawmakers, staffers and aides.