Cuisines Editor Virginia B. Wood mentions the good news and the bad about local restaurants.
Beat the Clock
This month, the Sustainable Food Center (SFC) and Austin Community Gardens (ACG) have merged to form a stronger organization to address the issues of hunger and food security in Austin and Central Texas. As part of the new organization's Season of Growing and annual membership drive, they are partnering with the Feinstein Foundation's annual hunger challenge. During the month of April, every dollar raised by SFC and ACG to fight hunger and increase food security in our community will be matched with a contribution by the Feinstein Foundation. This means Austinites concerned with these issues have a few more days to become members or make charitable donations to the newly merged organization. For the particulars of donation and membership information, contact Suzanne Santos, executive director of the Sustainable Food Center, at 385-0080. For more information about the worthwhile programs of these merging organizations, check out their Web site at www.main.org/sfc.
Bad News, Good News
Watching the local restaurant industry's frenetic expansion over the past three years, I couldn't help but recall Austin's last boom and bust cycle in the mid-Eighties. Since the first of this year, I've been anticipating a contraction in the local restaurant market and it started in mid-April when everybody faces financial reality. In addition to 22, both Fresh Planet Cafe (Sixth & Lamar) and Tocai (601 W. Sixth) closed the weekend of April 15th. The Jeffrey's restaurant group, which operated Fresh Planet, is busy with their four other Austin eateries and the new Jeffrey's at the Watergate in Washington, D.C. At press time, we still had no word on the future plans of Tocai owner/sommelier Anthony Garcia but it would be a shame for the local restaurant scene to leave Garcia's vast wine knowledge, remarkable palate, and talent for food and wine pairings out of commission for long.
In the good news category, Changos Taqueria (3023 Guadalupe, 480-8226) celebrates its third anniversary this Friday, April 27, with a party from 6-10pm at the restaurant with live music. Business is so good at Changos, they're looking for expansion locations around town South Austinites don't have much longer to wait for their own Krispy Kreme location. Look for the "Hot Donuts Now" sign to be glowing at the new outlet under construction at 711 E. Stassney Lane. That corner of Stassney and I-35 is becoming its own restaurant row, what with Texas Land & Cattle Company already there, a Krispy Kreme, and a Romano's Macaroni Grill on the way.
Appetizing Charity Events
Two of Austin's most appetizing charity events are upon us. There may still be time to get tickets for The Garden Party, the annual fundraiser benefiting the Umlauf Sculpture Garden (605 Robert E. Lee Rd., 445-5582). The party is tonight (!), April 26, from 6:30-9:30pm at the Umlauf Garden. The $40 ticket gets you dancing to the music of the Nash Hernandez Orchestra, wines from Twin Liquors, and tantalizing appetizers from 16 of Austin's finest restaurants. Call the Umlauf for last-minute ticket information Put next Thursday, May 3, on your event calendar right now so you won't miss The Taste of Mexico, a fabuloso fun food fiesta at an impromptu tented mercado outside Mexic-Arte Museum (419 Congress, 480-9373). The festivities include live music, food from local Mexican restaurants, as well as regional Mexican dishes prepared by visiting chefs from Saltillo, Mexico. Call the museum for ticket information.