Tucked near Shoal Creek in Austin's cozy Allandale neighborhood, Jay and Jayne Crawford's Chicken Coop Tiny Cottage is more than just a sleepy vacation rental, it's the number one Airbnb in Texas.
According to Airbnb's "number one most hospitable Host" list that came out this month, the Crawfords run the most welcoming stay the Lone Star State has to offer. It was a surprise to the Crawfords, who have been running the Airbnb since October 2014.
"I knew we've been doing well but I just never would have dreamed," Jayne said. "I didn't ever imagine we would be number one, so that was a great surprise."
Jayne and Jay Crawford have been renting on Airbnb for the last six years. (Jayne Crawford)
Though there are no chickens to be seen, the rental sits in the couple's backyard. Before they had ever imagined entering the hospitality business Jay, who owned an insurance business, used it as an office before retiring. Jayne, a retired elementary school teacher, came up with the idea to rethink the space while on a beach trip with some friends.
With a love of travel herself, Jayne said she and her husband transformed the space into a rental she would be happy to stay in when far away from home. Growing up in a family of neat freaks, Jayne prides herself on her tidy nature.
"My husband will tell you that I'm very particular, especially out there, because when I travel I don't like surprises," Jayne said. "That's the way I grew up, you clean things and leave it nicer than you found it."
In order to be named "most hospitable" in Texas, the couple had to meet certain criteria: achieve 100 five-star ratings in cleanliness, check-in and communication; gain at least 100 reviews and gain the greatest number of reviews in Texas.
The chicken-themed stay has more than 360 reviews, which is among the most in the nation and maintains a perfect five-star review in five of the six categories, the remaining rating four-point-nine.
The house is only 160-square feet but the garden gives you plenty of room to roost. (Airbnb)
So what makes this Airbnb so cozy?
Jayne says it's the little things like spare toothbrushes, contact solution, chocolates on pillows, snacks on deck and that famous Southern hospitality that keeps people coming back. Before COVID, Jayne said she used to leave homemade brownies for guests.
"I've kind of found over the years that the more you offer people, the more grateful and the better they treat your place," Jayne said. "We pretty much try and think of anything that you would ever forget or I have forgotten on a trip."
The small, farmhouse-style property will let you live the Austin lifestyle with the neighborhood walkability and proximity to downtown for around $70 per night. Jayne said they have renters come and stay year after year like clockwork, so if you want to stay it would be best to book a few months in advance.
The couple asks everyone who stays to sign their mural before leaving. (Airbnb)
The garden is the pride and joy of Jayne Crawford. (Airbnb)
In addition to the money they get from listing their extended home, which covers the "ridiculous" Austin taxes, Jayne greets every group that stays and said the people who stay with her are a delight.
"I try and pop out and meet everybody when they first come just so that they know who's here and if they need anything, we're always available," Jayne said. "The people that rent from us, they're phenomenal, they're just wonderful."
Make sure when you stay to admire the garden personally attended by Jayne herself and sign the chicken mural so you can permanently commemorate your stay in the capital city.
Austin's Delta 8 industry has been turned on its head after Texas health officials clarified that the cannabinoid is on the state list of illegal substances, though it was previously believed to be legal by most retailers, consumers and manufacturers.
House Bill 1325, which was signed in June 2019 by Gov. Greg Abbott, and the Farm Bill, signed into law by former President Donald Trump in 2018, legalized any hemp product containing less than .3% THC. The same bills were thought to have made Delta 8 legal, though the Texas Department of State Health Services added a notice on its website saying it was still a controlled substance as of Friday, Oct. 15.
Both the federal and state governments keep separate lists on what is considered a controlled substance. Marijuana is considered Schedule I, a category reserved for substances with "no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse," both statewide and federally.
Austin-based CBD retailer Grassroots Harvest CEO Kemal Whyte, like many CBD shop retailers, was blindsided by the announcement. Many small businesses rely on Delta 8 for their sales—Green Herbal Care CBD said about 90% of its sales come from Delta 8—and Whyte said he is frustrated by the inconsistencies in the drug scheduling system.
Since 87% of Texans support the legalization of marijuana, at least for medical use, per a recent poll, Whyte said he wonders who this legislation is for.
"It's gonna have a massive impact on small businesses—there's just no way around it," Whyte said. "The reality is, we don't want to push out anything bad for our customers, we want this to benefit our customers and to help them. If we can make money while doing it, that's the American dream. What are we doing, whose benefit is this for?"
Delta 8 surged in popularity after the perceived legalization—consumers enjoyed its lower psychotropic potency, decreased anxiety while using it and the peace of mind as a legal way to get high. So in order to protect their products and livelihoods, both Grassroots Harvest and Austin-based manufacturer Hometown Heroes are taking legal action.
Whyte said Grassroots Harvest is suing DSHS, saying their action is creating negative effects in the market. Meanwhile, a Hometown Heroes spokesperson said the company is in the process of filing a temporary restraining order that would pause the ban on Delta-8 in the state of Texas.
Threats against Delta 8 are not new—DSHS lost a lawsuit trying to make "smokable hemp products" illegal last year and Texas lawmakers had been considering a bill that would make Delta 8 illegal, though it was dropped after the clarification was made.
Hometown Heroes released a formal statement in response to the DSHS rule.
"I need to be clear—we love Texas, we're just choosing to fight for the will of the people in regards to cannabis in Texas," Hometown Hero CEO Lukas Gilkey said in a statement. "(Texas DSHS) are using backhanded ways to create legislation and go against the will of the people."
Whyte laments the fact that it would be easier legally to "open up a strip club that also sells guns," and said he can't post customer testimonials that mention the benefits of Delta 8 without getting hit with a cease and desist from the Food and Drug Administration. Whyte said he isn't opposed to regulation—far from it—he just wants to see it go through the correct channels.
"The fact that they're stunting our ability to communicate with our clients that want to learn about this, you're preventing us from communicating with them and teaching them, or spreading information that we know," Whyte said. "I think that that in and of itself opens up a lot of questions."
Grassroots Harvest still has Delta 8 products on its shelves for the time being but for how long, Whyte doesn't know.
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Austin Public Health and other clinics around Austin are now providing booster shots for all three vaccines, including Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson, to fully vaccinated individuals after both Pfizer and J & J were approved by the CDC on Wednesday.
APH and Austin clinics, which were already administering the approved Pfizer booster, will begin distributing shots as soon as Friday.
Those who received the second dose of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccine more than six months ago are elligble to receive a booster if they are over 65 or if they are over 18 and:
- Live in a long-term care environment
- Have underlying medical conditions
- Work or live in high-risk settings, such as schools, hospitals or correctional facilities
Austin-Travis County Health Authority Dr. Desmar Walkes said in a media Q&A Friday that APH is encouraging boosters just as much as they have urged residents to get their first and second doses.
"Boosters are incredibly important to keeping our community protected and hospitalizations low," Walkes said. "If we can stay on top of our vaccinations, we provide protections for our most vulnerable and make it that much harder for COVID to spread in our community."
Eligible residents are free to choose the same booster as their first doses or "mix and match," per the CDC announcement.
Those looking for another dose can simply bring their vaccination card to APH centers or the dozens of Walgreens and CVS locations in the metro, which began administering doses Friday.
Additional updated guidance from the CDC allows for all eligible individuals to choose which vaccine they receive as a "mix-and-match" booster dose. It is advised to remember to bring your CDC COVID-19 Vaccination Card showing the original doses with you when going for booster shots.
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