The Austin Chronicle

ATX Living Room Picnic Brings Austin Together While Supporting Local Business

By Sofia Tafich, March 31, 2020, 11:10am, On the Range

The usual Austin springtime picnic is moving from Zilker Park to the comfort of your living room. It’s just you and your quarantine company, some good take-out, and local music. All these ingredients add up to the ATX Living Room Picnic.

The new normal is working from home and looking out the window to find empty streets, worlds away from the thriving, busy Austin we all know and love. Now more than ever, we want to feel close to one another and help each other. Eat, Listen & Support Local: ATX Living Room Picnic is a citywide initiative that seeks to do just that. On April 4, Austinites are encouraged to purchase a picnic-style meal and beverages from local restaurants and breweries to enjoy from their homes with family and loved ones.

Although there will be no live band, the SIMS Foundation, a nonprofit providing mental health and substance use recovery services for Austin musicians, curated a Spotify playlist featuring local artists for the event. It’s a day we can come together while being physically apart.

Event organizer Lindsey LeRoy has been part of the hospitality industry in Austin for over eight years, as a publicist and as part of the LeRoy and Lewis team. “The future of our industry is uncertain,” says LeRoy. “But [this event] feels like a small ray of light during this weirdly dark time.”

The COVID-19 pandemic has rapidly disrupted the lives of people all over the world. In Austin, it led to the unexpected cancellation of SXSW and temporary closing of bars and restaurants, hitting musicians and the hospitality industry particularly hard. The Living Room Picnic aims to foster a sense of community while providing direct support for local businesses.

LeRoy jokingly tells people she gets her best ideas in the shower, and this time, it’s actually true. “I was trying to think about ways to support our culinary community in a tangible way and at the same time unite the city while we’re all isolated indoors,” LeRoy says.

In response to the COVID-19 impact on the hospitality industry, LeRoy and Lauren Travis came up with ATX Love Local (@atxlovelocal) – a true celebration of Austin and everything that makes it great. The platform is meant to maintain excitement and interest for everything local, supporting local restaurants, bars, breweries, wineries, shops, and more.

LeRoy and Travis are hard at work creating content for the website, which will include restaurant delivery and take-out options, meal kits with recipe video tutorials featuring Austin chefs, and more. What started out as a far-fetched idea for LeRoy is now “a passion project that not only gives me hope about the success of the hospitality industry but has shown me how strong willed, resilient, and creative Austinites really are.”

The ATX Living Room Picnic is the platform’s first event. “My hope is that this activates an ongoing movement of continued support for small, local businesses through this event and beyond, while also spreading some much needed happiness though the city,” says LeRoy.

Learn more about participating restaurants, where to find the playlist, and more details on the ATX Love Local site.

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