Patios may be ‘the only game in town this summer’ for Austin eateries as customers flock to outdoor spaces
Stuffed with cheese, pineapple and pork, the nationally renown gringa taco at Simon Madera's Taco Flats restaurant is a popular item for the Mexico City-inspired eatery—but these days, that really depends on where it's being served.
At Madera's newer location in Clarksville, business from customers is "on fire," he said. At the original Burnet eatery, not so much.
The difference? The Clarksville spot has a patio.
"I'm talking to the landlord [on Burnet] now about adding a patio to the front," Madera said. "I think it's going to be the only game in town this summer."
Under the ever-changing patchwork of pandemic-era state rules governing eateries in Texas, restaurants that sell more food than alcohol may open their inside dining rooms for table service at just 25% capacity.
But for the patios and outdoor seating? The sky's the limit, as long as social distancing norms are enforced.
Al fresco dining is not exactly a tough sell in Austin, which gets three more weeks of sunny days than the national average and has a city ordinance protecting Austinites' right to bring dogs onto patios.
And now, it offers what may be the quickest path to recovery for Austin's struggling restaurants as state leaders grapple with containing the spread of coronavirus and keeping the economy healthy.
There's no table service yet at Taco Flats, but customers at the Clarksville restaurant and at Madera's food truck, La Holly, on the East Side buy food to go and then eat it on the patio rather than make the drive, tacos cooling in their bags, to the same home table they've been confined to for nearly two months.
The Burnet location, opened in 2014, was busier earlier in the season; now it's lagging 30% behind Clarksville, which has only been open since October.
"Because we don't have the patio there, it's declining," Madera said.
Austin mom Leslie Leal-Gauna and her family anxiously ventured out on Mother's Day for the first time since March to have lunch on the patio at Matt's El Rancho, their family's favorite "special occasion restaurant."
They felt safer sitting outside than indoors. They appreciated the single-use menus on placemats, sealed silverware and secluded seating.
"We sat there and said, 'This is one of the most normal days we've had in months,'" she said.
Patios are busy all over town. At the Hula Hut on Lake Austin, customers on a sunny Mother's Day endured wait times up to an hour. Next door at Mozart's, tables were full and spaced more than six feet apart.
Left out of this trend are the restaurants, like Nightcap near downtown, which make more on booze than on food—which means they are still not allowed to open for table service.
"We have a huge 900-square-foot patio, but we cannot use it," frustrated Nightcap owner Christin Rowan said. "People could legit walk in the front door, place their order at the bar, grab their drink and then sit outside and get texted when the food is ready. Super contactless."
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So you want to buy a house?
To anyone trying to get on the "housing ladder," it's been a discouraging couple of years as prices skyrocketed in a market crowded with buyers bidding against each other for just about any available home.
Things may be calming down, with the Austin Board of REALTORS reporting fewer sales and more available homes this summer.
Mortgage rates have more than doubled in the last year, from around 3% to well over 6% on a 30-year fixed rate loan, getting even more of a bump this week after the Federal Reserve raised bank rates on Wednesday.
So how affordable are homes right now? That, of course, depends on what you want and how much you're able or willing to pay, but here are some rough estimates of what a typical buyer would pay to buy a $650,000 home, which would be considered "mid-price" in today's market.
Mortgage banker Chris Holland (NMLS 211033) of Austin's Sente Mortgage ran some numbers for Austonia to illustrate a typical purchase.
Holland says that while the 30-year fixed rate mortgage is often mentioned in the media, the most popular loan that he's seeing now is a 7/1 adjustable rate mortgage, which has a fixed rate for 7 years and then adjusts every year based on market rates, with a limit on how much it can increase each year. The interest is amortized over a 30-year period. Adjustable Rate Mortgages (ARMs) offer lower rates than fixed rate loans.
Here are the numbers, which are examples. In practice, exact numbers vary with a buyer's credit rating and overall financial situation, and with the rate, which can move up or down at any time.
- $650,000 home purchase price
- 7/1 ARM at 5.875%
- 5% down payment, equals $32,500
- 95% financed, equals $617,500
- $4,990 payment, including principle and interest (P&I), insurance, and property tax
- Typically, a borrower's debt to income ratio needs to be at or below 45%. So for this mortgage, a borrower, or borrowers, would need income of roughly $11,100/month, or $133,200/year. That number could be higher, depending on the buyer's outstanding credit balances on things like credit cards and car loans.
Holland says he's had a lot of clients approved for loans who were house hunting but have put that on hold, hoping prices come down.
Camp Fimfo Waco, a brand new camping resort, is kicking off football and fall camping season in style! With top-notch amenities, premium accommodations, and 10 weekends of fall fun, there’s no better place to have a fall camping getaway, especially if you’re a Baylor football fan!
Fall promises to be a one-of-a-kind camping experience. From Sept. 16 to Nov. 24, weekends will be packed with fall-themed activities, including special Halloween weekends in October. Campers can enjoy activities like fall crafts, campground trick-or-treating, costume contests, site decorating, outdoor movie nights, and more!
Packages and Ways to Stay
Camp Fimfo Waco
Located just 5 miles from McLane Stadium, Camp Fimfo Waco is the perfect place to stay during home game weekends. Skip the stuffy hotel room and embrace the great outdoors before cheering on the Baylor Bears! Campers can purchase a Baylor Tailgating Package that includes a pre-game meal from Executive Chef Sean Kelley and transportation to and from the game! Chef Kelley will also be cooking up delicious, elevated tailgating meals near the stadium so make sure to check out The Plaid Plate food truck before the game.
Stay in style and comfort, no matter your camping preference! At Camp Fimfo Waco, there are multiple ways to stay. Red Carpet RV sites come with a concrete pad and patio, full hook-ups, cable hook-up, a charcoal grill, fire ring and fire pit. Back-in or pull-thru options are available, as well as coveted spots tucked along the Bosque River!
Don’t have an RV? Not a problem, Camp Fimfo Waco has cabins too! Book a Riverview Firewheel Cabin if you’re looking for an air-conditioned oasis for the whole family. Complete with a kitchen and private bathroom, this cabin can fit up to 10 people. Elevate your stay by adding on a golf cart or snag a private cabana by the pool for guaranteed shade. With wifi available throughout the park, you can stay connected during your stay!
Amenities and Activities
Camp Fimfo Waco
Camp Fimfo Waco features lots of amenities to fill your days with fun, whether you’re a kid or kid at heart. After challenging your friends to a game of pickleball, basketball, or mini golf, go for a dip in the resort-style, heated pool - open daily through October! Stay on the weekends through October to enjoy the interactive splash playground. With plenty of ways to burn off energy, like the jumping pillow or playground, you can be sure to end the day with a peaceful night around the campfire!
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