North Carolina-based fried chicken fast food chain Bojangles could be on its way to Austin, according to a report from the Austin Business Journal, but it would be up against some steep competition.
The chain announced plans to open up 50 locations across Texas, five of which will target the North Austin area, with the rest spreading across Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston and San Antonio. The company said it is looking at locations in Cedar Park, Leander, Round Rock, Pflugerville and Georgetown.
Though Bojangles didn’t disclose any timeline for the opening, the company has plans to expand with more than 100 Texas restaurants in the next seven to 10 years.
Aside from well-known chains like Zaxby’s and Raising Cane’s, Austin already has a good share of homegrown fried chicken restaurants. Here are some of the chicken eateries Bojangles will be up against.
Tumble22 Chicken Joint, 7211 Burnet Road
The Original Chicken Sandwich at Tumble22 (Isabella Lopes)
Sometimes not straying from tradition is the perfect way to execute a classic, and Tumble22's take on a fried chicken sandwich is exactly that. A crispy chicken breast topped with coleslaw, bread-n-butter pickled and duke's mayo on a buttered bun for an ultimate bite of comfort and Southern tradition. The restaurant offers a small and original-sized sandwich and different levels of hotness from a "wimpy" to "stupid hot" scale.
Spicy Boys, 1701 E. 6th St.
The Hot Gai at Spicy Boys (Isabella Lopes)
If you haven't yet visited Spicy Boys, you're missing out on a unique blend of spices and flavor profiles that will have you wanting more. The food truck offers three different sandwich options: "The OG" with basil ranch and papaya relish, sweet chili honey, scallion and crispy shallots; "The Hot Gai" with pickles, massaman mayonnaise, Thai basil and Swiss cheese; and the "V Spicy Gai" with spicy ranch, spicy marinated cucumber on a chili toasted bun.
Thai Fresh, 909 W. Mary St.
The Chicken Sandwich at Thai Fresh (Isabella Lopes)
Besides offering deliciously curated Thai food with seasonal and local ingredients, Thai Fresh has a chicken sandwich that will fill your taste buds with unique flavors for a mouthwatering bite. Topped with lime chili mayo and spicy pickles, this runner-up for the tastiest chicken sandwich in town is not one that should be overlooked.
Dai Due, 2406 Manor Road
The Chicken Sandwich at Dai Due
Dai Due's fried chicken sandwich is no joke. With crispy, double dredged and fried chicken breast, chile morita mayonnaise and pickled watermelon on a bun toasted in ghee, this chicken sandwich will have you thinking "dang," as you devour the entire thing. Don't let the overwhelming uncertainty of flavors make you think this chicken sandwich isn't a winner, because the delicious crispness of the chicken coincides perfectly with everything else.
Lucy's Fried Chicken, multiple locations
The Chicken Sandwich at Lucy's Fried Chicken (Isabella Lopes)
As we previously stated, there's nothing wrong with tradition if it's perfectly executed. Since Lucy's Fried Chicken is known for its fried chicken, it's no surprise their chicken sandwich, made simply with lettuce, onion, tomato and mayo, is a delicious bite of crispy tradition. If you're wanting to opt for something healthier, try their grilled chicken sandwich. If you're wanting to opt for something less healthy, yet equally as tasty, add cheese.
Bird Bird Biscuit, 2701 Manor Road
The Queen Beak at Bird Bird Biscuit (Isabella Lopes)
Besides providing Austinites with delicious buttermilk biscuits, Bird Bird Biscuit has a variety of chicken sandwiches that are out of this world in crispiness and flavor. The Queen Beak, with spiced and breaded chicken, cayenne black pepper honey and bacon-infused chipotle mayo on a buttermilk biscuit is a prime example of what the local joint has to offer. The two other fried chicken sandwich options include the "Firebird," with spiced chicken breast, dill mayo, spicy-sweet pickles and cilantro, and the "Theodore" with spiced chicken breast, bacon, bbq sauce and cheddar cheese.
Little Ola's Biscuits (Olamaie), 1610 San Antonio St.
The Fried Chicken Biscuit at Little Ola's Biscuits (Isabella Lopes)
A little sister to Austin's Southern food spot Olamaie, Little Ola's Biscuits features the beloved flaky biscuits in chicken sandwich form to provide you with an ultimate food craze. The traditional fried chicken sandwich, with Texas honey on a flaky biscuit is the perfect amount of sweet, savory and crispy to indulge all your taste buds. Little Ola's Biscuits also offers a spicy fried chicken biscuit, with spicy cayenne chili-garlic oil and benne seeds on a flaky biscuit.
Project Pollo, 1401 Rosewood Ave.
The Spicy Project at Project Pollo
Plant-based food lovers, Project Pollo is perfect for you. The menu offers four different crispy plant-based chicken sandwiches: the "Original Project" topped with aioli and dill pickles; the "Deluxe," with bacon, lettuce, tomato and smoked Gouda cheese; the "Spicy Project," with spicy garlic buffalo sauce, ranch and a pickled jalapeno; and the "Pico de Pollo," with credo cashew queso and fresh pico de gallo. Whether you're in need of a traditional-tasting chicken sandwich or a more elaborate take on the dish, Project Pollo has you covered.
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A theory that’s been swirling around lately is that the web as we know it is on its way out and something called Web3 will take over.
It’s hard to know what Web3 is without first understanding the original versions. The first web is the 90s Internet where people had their own random websites that didn’t link together, making it decentralized. In Web2, we saw the rise of Google, Facebook and other major players who configured standard ways for people to share and receive information.
Ethereum co-founder Gavin Wood and other blockchain developers say a decentralized version of the Internet, Web3, is on the way. Web3 can be thought of as synonymous with cryptocurrency, meaning it is based on the blockchain. Platforms and apps built on Web3 won’t be owned by a central gatekeeper, but rather by users. Those in the Austin crypto community believe to see a growing presence of Web3 in Austin.
Pujaa Rajan, an engineer at financial software company Stripe and adviser for startups, describes herself as a “digital nomad.” She has traveled all over from Hawaii to New York and San Francisco, looking for the crypto community in each place.
Having been in Austin for the past month, Rajan organized a Web3 meetup this week at Cosmic Coffee + Beer Garden in South Austin open to folks working in crypto or the crypto-curious. About 30 people showed up. "Compared to a lot of other cities that I went to, it is a lot more open and community-oriented here, which is what Web3 is all about,” she said.
Pujaa Rajan, an engineer at financial software company Stripe, organized a Web3 meetup in Austin during a visit. (Andrea Guzman/Austonia)
ATX DAO member Roberto Talamas, who stopped by the event, talked about the crypto group’s expansion. Web3, in Talamas’ view, expands on the previous versions which allowed people to read, then read and write. Now, he says, people can read, write and own. To Talamas, blockchain technology has powered that ownership aspect, and it can be utilized through groups like a DAO, a group that pools together capital and goes on to make investments or take on blockchain-based projects.
“The ecosystem of work with (Web3) companies here in Austin is still relatively small,” Talamas said. “And that’s one of those things that we’re trying to deal with at ATX DAO is to do all the advocacy work needed to make Austin the best Web3 city.”
Part of that community, however, has gotten a bad rep for being “crypto bros.” Rajan acknowledged that Web3 involves both finance and technology, which are fields women have historically been excluded from. But, she says the decentralization aspect creates a clean slate and a new means to form groups. “I feel like we can kind of take back the power or create a world for ourselves,” Rajan said.
The meetup at Cosmic brought together crypto users to talk about the prospects of Web3. (Andrea Guzmán/Austonia)
Meetup attendee Jonathan Hillis also talked about the idea that Web3 creates an opportunity to start over and how this could be something that grows in Austin. Born and raised in the capital city, Hills has left his Bay Area Web2 Instacart job behind to live in a cabin outside Dripping Springs last year. He and his wife, along with a group of internet friends formed a DAO called Cabin, and he's now writing on the Web3 version of Medium, known as Mirror.
When it comes to the state of Web3, four cities stand out. “The dam broke in Covid,” Hillis said. “Everybody no longer had to live in the Bay Area for tech.”
San Francisco is still rooted in Web2 traits with Big Tech and software as a service venture. New York is financial technology. Miami is another major player. But with Austin, Hillis sees a lot of potential.
“Austin is great at being a place for independent online creators of many types—musicians, but also artists,” Hillis said. “What excites me about Web3 is the opportunities for putting creators at more of the center of the value capture.”
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Once a bargain-hunter's paradise, Austin's reputation as a cheaper California seems to be dissipating. But does money have more value in Austin when compared to other U.S. metros?
For Carson Stanch, who moved to Austin from Brooklyn, New York, to be near family, Austin's lower cost of living was just an added bonus. According to the latest data from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, a $100 bill is worth $98.20 in Austin when compared to the national average in 2020, while it's worth just $84.53 in New York.
Houston native Carson Stanch moved from Brooklyn, New York to Austin just before the pandemic. (Carson Stanch)
Stanch soon realized she was a trendsetter—or perhaps a fortune teller—as the pandemic hit a few months after her move. No longer willing to spend extra money on their more expensive apartments, Stanch said many of her friends and other New Yorkers left the city amid COVID lockdowns.
"It's so expensive to live there (and) all of the reasons why you live in New York, you couldn't really do anymore," Stanch said.
Garrett Watson, a senior policy analyst with the Tax Foundation who wrote a 2018 report on the value of $100 in U.S. metros, told Austonia the report factors in the costs of goods and services with residents' incomes and compares them to the national average. The result is price parity, a number that varies drastically across the country—for instance, a $100 bill won't get you near as far in Austin as it would in more rural parts of the Hill Country.
While a Ben Franklin note was worth $4 more in New York in 2020 when compared to 2018, a $100 bill decreased by $1.60 in value in Austin. Austin's cost of living also saw the 12th-highest increase among U.S. metros from the 2010 to 2020 census.
And as the pandemic's nationwide housing boom gained extra momentum in Austin, peaking at a median home price of $575,000 in June 2021, Watson said the value of $100 could have dropped even further.
"There's just been a chronic hunger for building houses on the coasts and in certain cities in the heartland," Watson said. "Especially this year, we're seeing more and more discussion about that in Austin, and so that is a big, big factor."
Price parity bleeds into other factors as well—in San Francisco, where the value of $100 sits at $82.63, residents are nearly 18% poorer than their higher incomes suggest. But with higher incomes than the U.S. average, they may find themselves more flush with cash when moving to a cheaper city like Austin.
Many out-of-towners have used that extra change to make housing offers much higher than the asking price, Redfin chief economist Daryl Fairweather told Fox7 Austin.
"All those migrants are bringing with them high-paying jobs who are used to much more expensive housing and they’re willing to pull out all the stops to win these homes and move to Austin," Fairweather said.
But Austin is catching up to those traditional hotspots: the area was predicted to be the most expensive metro outside of the Golden State by the end of 2021.
In just two years, Stanch said she's seen some signs.
"I feel like I look around certain areas of Austin (and) they do feel more similar to downtown Brooklyn," Stanch said. "Some businesses I see might tend to cater to folks who have a little more income."
I cannot believe there’s a Hermès (an Hermès?) store opening around the corner from where I live. Oy vey. The scrappy, cheap, charmingly dusty locals-only South Congress of yore is receding into the past so very quickly. 😭 pic.twitter.com/sUHxI4pX8F
— Cari Marshall (@CariMarshallTX) August 3, 2021
So why not move to, say, Florence, Alabama, where money is almost 20% more valuable?
Watson said the difference comes down to the value of amenities—something the study can't track.
"Part of the value in New York City is all the amenities that you're near, the value of Broadway, the value of being able to get food delivered to your door," Watson said. "So that may be reflected in people's willingness to pay higher prices... there's a lot of really great reasons why people may want to be in Austin from an identity perspective that you can't get in other parts of Texas."
In Austin, tech salaries rose 5% from 2020-2021 as big-name corporations like Oracle and Tesla—alongside Tesla's billionaire owner Elon Musk—flocked to the nation's new "boomtown." With an ever-increasing job market, eclectic culture and reputation as one of the world's best cities for move-ins, Austin's appeal might still offset its price.
But for Stanch and many others, there may still come a time when price wins over location.
"If I was to the point where homebuying was more important than being near friends and family, then I would move to get the home," Stanch said. "I think that's kind of part of my plan."