Caffe Medici celebrates a big win at the South Central Regional Barista Competition

A gray, soggy Fourth of July was brightened considerably by the most inspiring political manifesto I've read in quite a while. The Independence Day installment of Carol Ann Sayle's weekly Boggy Creek Farm newsletter made me want to stand up and cheer! Rather than quote from it, I've gotten her permission to post the essay in our online edition. To check it out, see "Independent Food." The best thing about Sayle's piece is its authenticity: There is no phony patriotic posturing – the area farmers who feed us live those words every day. The strength of this nation is built on commitment such as theirs… And now for the local food news… Southpark Meadows was once one of Austin's favorite outdoor music venues, and even though it is now the site of a large mixed-use real estate development, live music has returned there. This summer, families can enjoy free weekly Sunday night concerts in the Grove, the beautifully landscaped centerpiece of the development, where there is an intimate outdoor stage and a very impressive playscape. The Grove is surrounded by eateries, among them such homegrown favorites as Amy's Ice Creams, MaMa Fu's Asian House, and Waterloo Ice House. For a complete musical lineup of the summer concert series, go to … A popular Chicago-based sandwich chain has opened two local outlets this summer. Check out Potbelly Sandwich Works (2316 Guadalupe, 477-0300; 10515 MoPac N., 342-6952) for hot sandwiches, shakes, and made-to-order salads… Two homegrown restaurant chains have recently made deals that will fuel big expansion plans. Z'Tejas Southwestern Grill co-creators Larry Foles and Guy Villavaso have sold their interest in the company to a group of investors that includes members of the management team: Chief Executive Officer Steven Micheletti and Executive Chef Jack Gilmore, Paul Fleming Restaurants LLC, and other private equity partners. The new company will open the 11th Z'Tejas outlet in Avery Ranch later this year… Chuy's founders Mike Young and John Zapp have made a deal with New York-based Good Partners in order to more rapidly expand their popular Mexican concept in Austin, San Antonio, Houston, and Dallas. The newest local Chuy's outlet will open in Southwest Austin later this year… Kudos to Austin baristas Patrick Pierce and Clancy Rose of Caffe Medici (1101 West Lynn, 524-2497) who won first and second places respectively in the inaugural South Central Regional Barista Competition in Dallas June 25-26 at the Texas Restaurant Association's Southwest Foodservice Expo… No sooner had my column about the transformation of El Gringo restaurant into an Italian eatery called Molto run than Manor Road restaurant mogul Carlos Rivero heard from his attorney. Rivero was advised to consider coming up with a new name for the eatery rather than be the second Austin small-business owner to find himself on the wrong side of litigious New York celebrity chef Mario Batali of Molto Mario fame. The new restaurant is now called Stortini (1917 Manor Rd., 391-9500), in honor of chef Kristine Kittrell's maiden name. The sign on the building will reflect the new name soon; meanwhile, the new menu is served at dinner six nights a week.

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Carol Ann Sayle, Patrick Pierce, Clancy Rose, Caffe Medici, Z'Tejas, Stortini

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