Wet your whistle at the corner of Chicon & MLK
The intersection of East Martin Luther King Boulevard and Chicon is becoming a culinary destination. Joe Cook's Catering has been there for years, and the down-home fare and inviting patio at his cozy Joe's Place (1814 E. MLK) has a very loyal following. Just to the east across Chicon, the newest addition is Wet Whistle (1900-A E. MLK), a hip little neighborhood convenience store with a very eclectic product line. According to their opening announcement, Wet Whistle will stock everything from kegs of craft beer to bicycle tire patch kits, coffee and pastries to organic produce and dairy products, plus locally prepared artisan foods, flowers, and select grocery items. It's difficult to envision such a diverse product line in such a small building, so I am really eager to check this place out. Also headed for this same corner in the coming months is an outlet for Austin Daily Press sandwiches and Motel, a bar from mustachioed barman Adam Bryan.
More changes afoot in the local coffee shop scene. Cenote (1010 E. Cesar Chavez) is moving beyond the popular daytime cafe format by expanding their list of affordable wines and craft beers and launching events every weeknight that include food and drink specials and live acoustic music... Due to regular yearly rent increases, the Ruta Maya Coffee House at Penn Field (3601 S. Congress) will close Sept. 1. According to owner Tim Sheehan, the importing, roasting, and brand distribution aspects of his business remain very strong and he's enthusiastic about the impending opening of a new outlet in the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport that will offer live music and spoken-word performances. He's also in negotiations for a space in which to recreate the original Ruta Maya, with community events, food and drinks from the land of the Maya, and live entertainment. We'll let you know when the location is announced... Chef/restaurateur Dr. Foo Swasdee has closed her River City Coffee Shop in Southwest Austin due to some chronic health issues... For more on the local coffee shop scene, check out what W.A. Brenner has to say in our On the Range Food blog.
In 2007, the community rallied around World Beat Cafe owner Lawrence Eguakun when he was diagnosed with cancer and had to close his business. Eguakun reports that he's been in remission for some time now and is back in business with Wasota African Cuisine in the Bouldin Creek Trailer Park (1209 S. First). He'd love to see all his old friends and fans there.
Jodi Bart advises me that the Austin Food Blogger Alliance raised $4,500 for Austin's nonprofit Bake a Wish organization at a party in July. The group prepares birthday cakes for children in shelters and foster homes and has recently expanded to doing cakes for the elderly and disabled. We're told the party generated lots of new volunteer bakers, as well. Good job!
The Chronicle Food section could use a computer-literate, social media savvy, food-obsessed intern for the fall semester. If you fit that description, email Special Issues Editor and Intern Program Coordinator Kate X Messer (firstname.lastname@example.org) with "foodie" in the subject line and she'll send you my way.