Legacy grocery store and deli Avenue B Grocery & Market, 4403 Avenue B, re-opened its hundred-year-old doors this week, serving up sandwiches after two years of a pandemic-induced closure.
Mason, the 10th owner of the location, has been running the shop largely by himself since his family bought the location to save it from closing in the early ‘90s. Mason greeted customers with a smile and a homemade sandwich on Friday while telling them a little bit about the history behind the building.
Mason, who would not let us photograph his face, starts removing the paper that has covered the menus for two years. (Laura Figi/Austonia)
“I'm still testing the water, gauging how things are gonna go and slowly bringing things back online,” Mason told Austonia. “I haven't personally been telling people I’m open yet because I wasn’t ready. Only today, as you saw, did I uncover the menu.”
Aside from the groceries and famous sandwiches, the store sells Maine Root sodas, candy, dinnerware, records and miscellaneous knick-knacks. If you ask, Mason will pull down some antiques from the shelves behind the till.
Try Ave. B's R.L.T. (Ross a.k.a avocado, mushrooms, green olives, lettuce and tomato), Mason's take on the classic sandwich. (Laura Figi/Austonia)
The store unofficially opened when passerbys saw lights inside on Wednesday but Mason said he never told anyone he was opening, it just sorta happened. Mason didn’t uncover his sandwich menus until Friday.
“It's my social life, you know, that's how I meet people and people come to visit me,” Mason said. “People have been very understanding. I wanted to be more relaxed and social–it used to be so busy.”
First-time Ave. B visitor Rose Bowditch recently moved to the Hyde Park neighborhood from California and told Austonia she had been waiting for the store to open up so she could see what was inside. Mason offered her roast beef samples while he helped her dig for jars.
Rose bought some mason jars and a teacup on her first visit. (Laura Figi/Austonia)
Meanwhile, Brianne Bowland and John Lyman began eating Mason’s sandwiches when Lyman started working nearby. The two said they’ve become big fans since and had been waiting for the reopening.
Bowland and Lyman took in all the sights upon their first time back in the building. (Laura Figi/Austonia)
“(Ave. B) is like a go-to for everyone in my company to come for lunch,” Lyman said. “I even have a T-shirt. I've always just loved that it's a really eclectic selection of things on the shelf–and then the sandwiches are really pretty special.”
Mason accepts call-in orders at all times except the busy rush hour at noon, during which he asks for your patience as he’s a one-man band. But patrons are free to stop by from 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Thursday-Monday for a great sandwich, conversation and a beer now that the store is back open.
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With major entertainment events slated for October, the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport is gearing up for a busy month.
Artists and music lovers are set to pack into Zilker Park for The Austin City Limits Music Festival in the coming two weekends. Following that, Formula One will bring racing fans to the Circuit of the Americas.
For those two events, the airport is anticipating high passenger days with 30,000 or more people departing flights.
ABIA recommends arriving at least two and a half hours in advance for domestic flights on those days. For ACL, it's expected on both Sundays of the festival along with the Monday and Tuesday after. The F1-driven high passenger days are expected on Oct. 20-21 and Oct. 23-26.
\u201c#AustinCityLimits visitors, you\u2019re in for a weird and wild ride \ud83e\udd18\u262e\ufe0f \n\nFlying in or out of our airport? We got firm and fun tips for you: https://t.co/RawVRalOXN\u201d— Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (AUS) (@Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (AUS)) 1664894083
F1, especially, could draw in loads of travelers as the three-day event saw 400,000 attendees last year. ABIA warns that highways leading to the airport may see even higher traffic than usual around the event and that travelers should plan their route accordingly.
Bailey Grimmett, a spokesperson for ABIA, said travel numbers come in 24 hours in advance. So, it's hard to predict if the airport will see travel volumes at the same levels that have happened around previous F1 races or if it'll top ACL's flight traffic.
Still, she says historical knowledge points to a chance for it.
“We've had that Monday after F1 break the record for single busiest in airport history," Grimmett said. "So context clues I would say yes, but I can't confirm that. But the historical background points to that."
In anticipation of the high volume of flyers, the airport received additional TSA officers for security screening through the end of October. To prepare even further, the Department of Aviation and partners hosted a job showcase and hiring fair to address the continued labor shortage the airport has experienced.
Relief from hectic travel days is on the horizon with November likely to see a slowdown.
"I don't anticipate it will be as busy as October just because we don't have as many events going on," Grimmett said. "Thanksgiving is kind of our primary holiday that we see a lot of passengers coming in and out of the airport."