The first annual "Hotel Issue" of Gourmet magazine is on the stands, featuring the results of a comprehensive reader's poll about the best hotels around the world. In a section entitled "Rooms at the Top," the Four Seasons Hotel-Austin places second only to Dallas' Mansion on Turtle Creek in the Texas region, and is one of the top four hotels recognized in the entire Southwest area. Congratulations to GM Craig Reid, Executive chef Elmar Prambs, and the entire Four Seasons staff for this well-deserved honor.

Heart of Texas Produce (HOT) founder Mary Mehaffey and silent partner Joe Christie reached a buy-out agreement with new owners Craig Thibodeau and Steve Wright on May 2. With the sale complete, Mehaffey plans to pursue her longtime interest in marketing cactus fruit; Christie will remain with HOT as a silent parnter. Thibodeau and Wright are well known in the Austin food service industry and they expect Heart of Texas to remain in the forefront of customer service, product quality, and availability under their ownership.

This Saturday, May 17, Preston Berry, Shannon Burke, and Tommy Potter of Cedar Street (208 W. Fourth) are throwing a crawfish boil for some old friends involved in a serious Texas myth-preserving endeavor. Community leaders in Archer City, Texas (including author Larry McMurtry) are restoring the Royal Theatre, a pivotal character in McMurtry's novel The Last Picture Show and the Peter Bogdanovich film of the same name. Guests at the "Boil for the Royal" can chow down on all the crawfish they can eat, enjoy complimentary beer, and view plans for the new Archer City theatre complex while listening to live music. The party benefiting the rebuilding project takes place from noon until 6pm and tickets are available at Cedar Street and Austix. Folks interested in making other donations to the rebuilding of the Royal can get more information at 800/729-ROYAL.

An authentic Irish pub experience debuts in Austin on Monday, May 19 with the opening of Fado` Irish Pub (214 W. Fourth, 457-0172). In Irish Gaelic, fado` is the expression for "long ago" and is commonly used as the preface for old Irish stories of fables. The creators of Fado` have actually imported an authentic Irish pub, handmade piece by piece in Dublin, and reassembled it locally in the space formerly occupied by Capital City Playhouse. Behind the bar they'll be serving Guiness Stout, Harp Lager, Bass, Boddingtons, Celis, and Shiner on tap, plenty of Bushmill's, Irish Mist, Bailey's and Middleton, and the kitchen will turn out a full Irish menu including imported smoked salmon and farmhouse cheese, Boxty, fish & chips, traditional Irish stew, and Guinness & beef short ribs. In addition to a huge CD collection of Irish talent, Fado` plans to showcase local Irish and Gaelic musicians, dancers, and poets.

Now that produce marketing specialist Pamela Boyar has resigned her position with Whole Foods, it will be interesting to see if the homegrown corporate giant continues to support the popular projects --weekly farmer's markets in store parking lots and the always sold-out tours of area farms and wineries -- that Boyar created for them. Boyar reports that she is doing some consulting work and considering business proposals while she and partner Susan Fein continue to work on their Living Arts Kitchen project.

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