Let's take a break from pandemic and economic disaster to consider lighter fare that may lift your spirits and your eyes to the skies above. Set your cell phone reminder: The Air Force's fabled Thunderbirds are scheduled to fly over Austin beginning at 2:40 p.m. on Wednesday. The flyover will last 25 minutes.

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The view from 360 Nueces Street. (David Powell)

Welcome to Austonia, a new, locally owned news company reporting on news, business, and politics in Austin. Like what you see? Sign up for our daily newsletter to get our latest stories in your inbox.

Elevator wars. Cramped life on a balcony. Darkened bars and restaurants. No deliveries to your condo. Generational differences over latex gloves, disposable wipes and social distancing. Ready to kill for a beer on a restaurant patio. Yes, those who live in Austin downtown's high-rises are stressed in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.

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The Statesman layoffs were a part of layoffs across Gannett, the nation's largest newspaper chain, which also owns 260 other newspapers in 46 states. (Michael Barera)

(Editor's Note: Oppel is editorial advisor to Austonia.com. From 1995-2008, he was editor and vice president of the Austin American-Statesman.)

Veteran sportswriter Suzanne Halliburton and culture critic Joe Gross were among seven staffers laid off on Friday by the Austin American-Statesman. The layoffs come at a time when most Statesman employees are on unpaid furloughs one week each month.

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Katharine Jose

"We will see in April the true effect of the pandemic," said Romeo Manzanilla, AboR president. (Katharine Jose)

Home sales got off to a strong start in the Austin-Round Rock market in 2020.

On Jan. 2, Zillow declared Austin the nation's hottest market due to the city's affordability, low unemployment, attractiveness to young people and booming tech industry. Even March sales figures were in the black, showing a 2.2% increase over the previous March, as the coronavirus pandemic grew.

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Mark Dewey

"We are keeping hope alive," said Ryan Garrett, general manager of the currently closed Stubb's BBQ. (Mark Dewey)

When I called Ryan Garrett, the general manager of Stubb's BBQ, he was homeschooling his 8-year-old daughter and 5-year-old son. The giant ovens at Stubbs were stilled. Citizen Cope's April 25 concert in Stubb's Waller Creek Amphitheater had been indefinitely postponed. And Garrett's 106 employees were out of work, although the full-timers were still drawing paychecks.

"We are keeping hope alive," said Garrett, 47.

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"When the SBA Paycheck Protection Program was announced, we jumped on it," Elizabeth Christian said.

With billions of dollars in forgivable loans available from the Small Business Administration, Elizabeth Christian, CEO of the well-known Austin public relations firm, took action immediately.

She got a loan in five days.

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(Kerry Tate)

Kerry Tate (left) and Dawn Moore are founding partners at Moore-Tate Projects+Design. (Kerry Tate)

About 60,000 to 65,000 construction workers are on the job in the Austin area today. They are working on towers rising high over downtown, or on apartments and homes fanning out from the city.

Like most of the rest of us, the developers and builders, the ultimate bosses of those workers, retreated to the safety of their laptops on dining room tables in mid-March. As we did, the COVID-19 outbreak began to cast a lengthening shadow over Austin.

Kerry Tate sees a disparity in this.

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(Jim Schwertner)

"We are an essential business," said the Austin resident Jim Schwertner says of Capitol Land & Livestock. (Jim Schwertner)

Jim Schwertner, CEO and president of Capitol Land & Livestock, says his business has had its ups and downs because of the coronavirus epidemic. But it's a hardy enterprise and can weather storms.

"We are an essential business," said the Austin resident, "As soon as word came out on shelter-in-place, the meat market went up about 10%, because everyone was hoarding."

Three weeks later, it dropped 20%.

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