The Austin Chronicle

And In Other Business...

By Amy Smith, January 7, 2000, News

In 1999 we read about the booming economy, the hot housing market, the lack of affordable housing, a record number of IPOs, the rebound of downtown, and Michael Dell, Michael Dell, Michael Dell. Other stuff happened, too. Here's a Top 10 list of business bits worth noting.

1. Central Market goes south. Bubba is plum tickled over the free cheese CM passes out to the culture-hungry South Austin masses, but there's more to this Pat Oles-inspired shopping center than the cheddar wheel. For years, this end of Westgate Boulevard, on the edge of a weird mass of interchanges, offered little more than an Arby's, Cavender's Boot City, and the sleepy remains of Westgate Mall. Now you've got a new movie theatre, Border's Books, Dr. Chocolate, other shops, and several "coming soon" signs.

2. HEB goes green. While we're in this neck of the woods, credit goes to HEB for its green building construction and SOS-compliant market at Brodie and William Cannon. The bummer is that growth in this southwest area has turned traffic into a jumbled mess. Who wants to sit through three red lights for a head of lettuce and a can of black-eyed peas?

3. Another nail in the coffin. Add Quack's to the list of businesses shuttered in the slow, agonizing death of the Drag. Varsity Theatre, Mad Dog and Beans, Les Amis, Quack's -- all gone.

4. Whole Foods says no. The Austin-based organic chain puts the kibosh on selling genetically engineered foods.

5. New airport grounded in local flavor. Somebody up there was really thinking when the idea was struck to add only local retail and food shops at Austin Bergstrom International Airport.

6. Modern times collar old-time haberdasheries. Hymie Samuelson closed his longtime shop, Slax Menswear, and spent Tuesday selling the fixtures from the North Loop store. Before Slax, Joseph's Men's Shop closed its doors. Next up: The old, old Toggery Men's Store plans to say goodbye to all that, too.

7. A place women (and other people) can call their own. 1809 Manor Road has seen a lot of businesses come and go, but here's hoping Gaby and Mo's is a keeper. "We wanted to provide a spot for women to come to," explains Patty Carvajal, a former Kerbey Lane manager. So far, the establishment, with a newly expanded deck, has built a loyal following on two essential ingredients: food and live music.

8. Old motels don't die, they just get a facelift. Owner Liz Lambert has put shoulder to the wheel all year in a major renovation effort on the old (now new) San Jose Motel on South Congress. Now the spiffed up place is scheduled to open early this year, like some day real soon.

9. Porn marquee comes down. Cinema West, the historic neighborhood nuisance of South Congress, closed in 1998 but it took until this year for the movie house's marquee to come down, much to the neighbors' delight. Now, Internet company Future Protocol is doing a major, and we mean major, renovation of the place before they move in some time this year.

10. Homebuilding irony. While last year's housing market was so hot it fairly sizzled, all was not well at the offices of Doyle Wilson, a leading Austin homebuilder and one of the few survivors of the real estate bust of the Eighties. Wilson filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, leaving a slew of contractors and owners of unfinished homes in the lurch.

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