Sponsor Spotlight: Thunderbird Real Food Bars

Spring sprang in Texas a while ago, which means we're in that heady time of wildflower season. Going for a weekend drive in the country is serene, but so is driving on the highway because Ladybird made it so. Seriously, some of the best wildflower patches are between 3 lanes of traffic. 🤔 


This past weekend, we went out to Pedernales Falls State Park for a little retreat before the final week of sale-planning. We even left our phones off, grabbed a film camera to document it, and let fate decide if we'd get in-focus photos. Spoiler: not always.

We DID bring a few Thunderbird bars because hiking to the best spot on the river is nicer with a light load.

Thunderbird Bars are home grown here in Austin. It's feels great to support a company in a way that is 100% in-line with how you live. The makers probably hike the same trail when they aren't at their (certified gluten-free) facility testing recipes.

More about the bars- they are gluten free, vegan, and without added sugar, just the natural sugars from the peaches, dates, and other fruits they use. Which is crazy because they are more like a little treat than "energy bar". I smartened up a while ago and started to keep the Cashew + Fig + Carrot in my glove compartment. Now I ... look forward to forgetting to eat breakfast? I kind of do!

Thunderbird breaks down exactly what each of their ingredients does for you on their site which is super informative.
Check it out here.


Get out there, and see Texas! As this post is going to press it's raining really hard, which means this weekend it will be a verdant paradise out there and the rivers will be flowing.


FELIZ Spring 2018 is May 6th, 11am - 6pm.

Before you head out on your Sunday Drive, swing by the Palm Door on Sabine to see some of our favorite designers, ask Thunderbird what's new, and then get out there.


Sponsor Spotlight: Better Half Cocktails and Coffee Pt 2 Ft Chioco Design

We're back with the second half of our exploration into the design of Better Half, the modern diner that was missing in your life. Chioco Design is responsible for the distinctive architecture of the space and likely- so much more. We're chatting with them about problem solving constraints and working as a creative team.

Was the design of BH referencing any other favorite spaces or was it all about 406 Walsh?

The project is really a reflection of the sensibilities those involved in the design process. What you might not know is that this is just the first part of the entire project which will culminate in us renovating the Quonset hut next door into a brewery with an exterior court yard that connects them. There will be more significant design moves that were decided in the early masterplanning phase of the project. For instance, we really wanted these spaces (Better Half and Hold Out Brewery) to speak to each other. Their proximity to each other gave us this opportunity by designing glass facades that face each other and offer the maximum amount of transparency. So, yes the project is very site specific to 406 Walsh.


How do you work out the flow of the space? Is it highly planned or organic?

The spaces are highly planned as the programmatic requirements were so complicated as most restaurants are. This project has many parts, a kitchen, bar, cafe, coffee shop, restrooms, patio and making sure we met all these requirements with an efficient layout was paramount.

What spurred the idea for the DQ service window?

The service window has to do with the owners wish to serve the patio without customers having to reenter the main space.  We always imagined that the patio would be a highly populated space especially with Austin’s love of outdoor spaces.


Better Half has a massive live oak on the property, can you tell us about how you worked with it?

The live oak is beautiful and flawed at the same time.  Our goal was to protect it to ensure it’s continued growth by removing some of the impervious cover in it’s proximity.  By removing much of the existing asphalt we are giving it a better chance to flourish. 

Can you speak for a moment about working as a team on a creative project? How do your individual strengths play out?

In this case everybody seemed to be on the same page aesthetically so that’s always beneficial to its success.  The owners were great with their input on all things but especially how the space needed to function, flow, and operate.  There was a true collaboration on many of the interior finishes and details.  What we loved about this project was getting to work out ideas with both Lilianne and the owners. 
In this particular situation we designed the building and worked with the client on an effective an efficient floor plan as well as all the big design moves like the bar and wood furr-down, steel windows and window wall that faces the giant oak. Someone that deserves credit is Mikel Bennett from my office.  She was instrumental not only in design but in the execution with her efforts and communication with the General Contractor.  By the way, Havens Construction did a great job as well.

"One design element that really ties everything together is the graphic design and branding imagery by Lauren Dickens.  I can’t say enough about her talent and ideas."

Do you have a tip for other creative teams?

A tip is to be open to ideas and to understand everyone’s talents and capabilities.  Once you know that then you can navigate the complexities that are inevitable.

Favorite food on the menu?

They have an incredible burger and the pastrami is off the charts!

Photograph c/o  Alison Narro

Photograph c/o Alison Narro


See more work from Chioco Design here, and check out the space in person at Better Half on May 2nd when they host the FELIZ pre-party meet and greet drinks from Espolon. See you there!

FELIZ Spring 2018 is May 6th 11-6pm, swing by the Palm Door on Sabine to see some of our favorite designers, sip on a drink and have a relaxing Sunday. 


Sponsor Spotlight: Better Half Cocktails and Coffee design pt 1 ft Lilianne Steckel

Lilianne Steckel designs some of our favorite spaces in Austin. Her recent collaboration with Better Half (hosting the FELIZ pre-party) may be our favorite yet, and we know there's more coming from this powerhouse. LIlianne is responsible for the interior design of the space, and next we'll be talking with Jamie Chioco who masterminded the space from the architectural side.


When you think of the space, what is the first detail that comes to mind?

When I started working with the guys they wanted a space inspired by West Texas. The journey out there, the space it occupies in your heart. Running into friends, good music, good hangs. I loved using that as our inspiration because I love to travel and going out there is a special experience for me as well.

What were some must-incorporate details? I am such a fan of the coat hooks at each booth.

Aw, Thank you! We wanted to mix the feeling of a classic diner you visited often with a refined space that allowed for craft food and cocktails to feel natural. The coat hooks and booths were a must as a nod to the diner feel. Also the long window with rounded cap felt very throwback to us and was a nice moment we all agreed was important. The whole group was huge on special moments in the restroom, so we got to have a lot of fun in there! A record player and record display area were another must so they could have the flexibility to stretch the personality of the vibe depending on the night and the feels.


Can you shout out some of your vendors? I know there are some beautiful, locally made pieces throughout the space.

Of course! Boomtown Design did the custom white oak paneling on the walls and ceiling. As well as the pecan dimensional bar front that plays off of the amazing dimensional tile on the front of the order and coffee counter, which is by Mutina and sold by Stone Source. Fox Fine Furniture did the booths and coat hooks you love! Mother of God (A FELIZ vendor!) hand made the ceramic pendant light shades that hang over the booths. Will Bryant painted up our funky bathroom murals. Adam Young made the wood vessels hanging on the wall and framed our West Texas print near the womens restroom. And of course Lauren Dickens did our branding and graphics which were had painted by Joe Swec around the building.

See what inspires  Lilianne on Pinterest

See what inspires Lilianne on Pinterest

Is there a book or resource you reference for design inspiration or for running your small business?

Interior Design Magazine and Italian Elle Decor magazine are must reads and I also love cruising european design blogs because I think the design overseas is so inspiring!

Where is your next vacation?

I am heading to NYC for ICFF in May with a fellow designer to enjoy Design Week. Super excited to see some new products and inspirations.

Favorite drink on the menu?

I love their wine list, but my cocktail of choice is Yes Ma’am for sure. I’m a whiskey girl.


Stay tuned, we'll be discussing some of the site-specific details of the space next with the architects, Chioco Design.

Have you heard? Better Half is hosting FELIZ for the pre-party meet and greet. Wednesday May 2nd from 7-10 with drinks from Espolon. See you there!


Sponsor Spotlight: Cold Ones Pops

There are only a few weeks left of refreshing yourself with regular old chilled juice. Soon it will be so hot, only frozen juice will do the trick. Good thing we'll have Cold Ones Pops at the sale with their all-natural popsicles. 

Read on for tips on local farms, some great small business reads, and some dreamy vacation spots.


Can you tell us the fateful day you decided to change the Austin dessert scene forever with all-natural popsicles?

I wish there was a germination point! Everything started I was working full time as a copywriter in the advertising industry; I am still recovering. After a year of building the idea out in Dallas, I decided it was time to move back to Austin and give it a go– nearly six years ago. 

You use a lot of local ingredients, can you shine a light on some of our local farms?

There are so many here! We are in the heart of the Blackland Prarie, which is extremely well suited for agriculture. Buena Tierra Farms grows some paradigm shifting cantaloupe in the summer, Johnson's Backyard Garden's cucumbers make an amazing frozen margarita, and G+S Groves does a mind-blowing job at growing citrus, avocado, and Texas mango which will melt your brain. 


Is there a farm that supplies you with something unique?

Sweet Berry Farm provides a great day trip through the Hill Country (go now to catch mad wildflowers) and you can pick a ton of local strawberries. I like to soak the tops and cores in filtered water for a day, strain, and use it in cold brew tea. 

Your flavors are the perfect mix of “I never would have thought of that combo” and “that sounds amazing and I want it now”. How did you develop your palate?

I live to cook and to eat– I often fall asleep reading cookbooks. At home I cook a ton of different kinds of cuisine so I am always trying to be a sponge when it comes to technique or ingredients. I also challenge myself to turn all our pops into a cocktail. It makes sense– most cocktails (and our pops) are around 4 ounces, so it’s all about balance when introducing a spirit to the mix. That and brix levels

Is there a book or resource that helps guide your small business experience?

Ari Weinzweig's A Lapsed Anarchist's Approach to Building a Great Business and Bo Burlingham's Small Giant's have been formative in how I operate my business and plan for growth. Other than that, I just make sure to take care of my staff and maintain a healthy degree of balance– the eternal entrepreneur’s struggle.


Where is your next travel destination? Do you have a travel tip?

Mexico City, and either a cycling trip to Mallorca or skiing in Japan. Wide spread, I know. My travel tip is always eat like the locals do (preferably at a market), smile a ton, and whatever you do stay the fuck away from McDonald’s. You don’t want to be THAT person. 

What are you looking forward to at FELIZ this year? 

I always love Feliz and am super excited to be back doing it in the SPRING. I am looking forward to buying a lot of early birthday presents for myself. 


FELIZ Spring 2018 is May 6th, 11am - 6pm. 

Swing by the Palm Door on Sabine to see some of our favorite designers, eat a popsicle and have a relaxing Sunday.