For the 8th year in a row, the team at Netspend decided to forgo the traditional office holiday party and give back to the local community. The holiday season at this Austin-based company is not about long lunches, over-the-top celebrations or loud music—it’s about the amazing reward, and personal satisfaction, of helping your neighbor and the community. This day of giving they call “Netspend Community Connect” was held yesterday, Thursday, November 15th.
Founded in 1999, Netspend offers prepaid debit cards and innovative payment solutions to consumers who have historically been “underbanked” or choose to be self-banked to deal with their financial needs. This unique holiday tradition gives employees a chance step away from their daily routines and take a “walk in the shoes” of Netspend customers. Community Connect is designed to highlight the everyday hurdles that so many people face—especially in an expensive city like Austin.
On Thursday, about 650 participants, broken into 72 teams, took to the streets of Austin and gave away more than $30,000. A little kindness goes a long way, and this year’s participants paid it forward to unsuspecting Austinites by paying for their groceries, gas, bills and much more.
On top of this Community Connect event, Netspend and its partners, have also raised $400,000 to fund the Netspend Scholarship Foundation’s awards for 2019 which will include 120+ deserving recipients from across the US.
“Community Connect is a proud Netspend tradition, and every year around the holidays, we’re humbled to continue the initiative alongside our partners, and to give back to our beloved city of Austin,” said Netspend President Kelley Knutson. “If other organizations embrace this concept, and participate in days of giving back to their communities (over and above their normal charity giving), we’ve helped evolve our mission to a greater collective good. This event is a personally moving, and motivating, experience and we are thrilled to have raised the most money to date for our Community Connect day, and we look forward to continuing our deep-rooted tradition for years to come.”
Where to Next? Race, the city-wide scavenger hunt that saw huge turnouts in D.C. and Nashville is on its way to ATX! Test your knowledge of our fair city, along with all of your brains and brawn. This is basically an action-packed combination of race, scavenger hunt, outdoor escape room, and interactive city tour. You’ve seen Amazing Race, right? Then you are ready.
Grab your best buddy because this involves two-person teams solving clues to locate checkpoints across the city and complete physical and mental challenges at each one. Checkpoints will include iconic Austin landmarks, unique local spots, and a few wildcards. Teams can travel between checkpoints on foot, bike, public transportation, rideshare apps, personal vehicles, etc.
The race will be logged live via Instagram @wheretonextrace_ and will showcase the challenges and activities of the race. W2NR allows followers to tune in on Instagram to see coverage of the race and watch as the action unfolds. The W2NR staff is with racers every step of the way to enhance and personalize the racing experience!
Teams that finish the race within the goal time will win an equal share of the prize money! The minimum prize money will be $1000 but it has the potential to go way up based upon the number of people who sign-up.
Scholz Garten is hosting W2NR registration and the post-race after party! For more information about this crazy-fun situation, click here.
When: Saturday, October 20th
Time: 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.
Cost: $55 – 65 | Click here to register!
The Gruene Music & Wine Festival + Craft Beer Event, which began way back in 1986, is a four-day festival with four distinct events to offer. This long weekend of fun in one of the most charming and historic parts of Texas is a celebration Americana music, wine, craft beer, food, and local makers. There will be more than 90 Texas wines and 75 Texas craft beers for tasting, so come thirsty. Everyone from Shinyribs to Clint Black and Emmylou Harris has played this iconic event.
Since its founding, the fest has always benefited the Comal County United Way, a charity whose mission is to improve the quality of life for locals by generating resources to meet the needs of the community.
Check out the day-by-day details below and click here to get your tickets! If you haven’t been to Gruene, this will be the perfect intro to a true Texas gem.
When: October 4th – 7th
Gruene Historic District
THURSDAY: KICKOFF EVENT
- Specially curated wine & beer tasting
- Live Music
- VIP Tickets Available
- 21+ only
FRIDAY: ROCKIN’ WITH TEXAS WINE & FOOD
- Private show & meet ‘n’ greet with Aaron Watson
- Wine tasting by three of Texas’ best vineyards
- Catered Dinner by The Gristmill River Restaurant & Bar
- The Great Guitar Auction
SATURDAY: TEXAS TASTINGS & TUNES
- 90+ wines for tasting
- Live music
- Artisan Market
- 21+ only
SUNDAY: + CRAFT BEER EVENT & MUSIC FEST
- Over 75 craft beers for tastings & wines for purchase
- 8+ hours of live Texas tunes
- Artisan Market
- 21+ only event!
Wedding season is officially upon us! The invites are out, the tents are going up, the signature cocktails are flowing, and that makes pretty much everyone in a serious relationship start thinking about making it official.
This spring, Benold’s Jewelers, Austin’s favorite bridal and fashion jewelry destination for more than 85 years, is going all out to help you find the perfect engagement ring during their Spring Bridal Event. The choices may be overwhelming, so they’re bringing the best designers together for two special days. Plus, shoppers will get 20% off featured bridal designers! If you’re in the market, there is no time like the present.
Designers will have representatives at the event to discuss their newest lines, and help you understand the four C’s, and everything else you need to know about this all-important purchase.
When: Friday, May 4 (Special Preview Night, 5 – 8 p.m.) and Saturday, May 5 (10 a.m. – 5 p.m.)
On a drizzly Saturday morning in January, after leaving the loving embrace of Lazarus Brewing Co. on East 6th Street, our guide Adam told the origin story of the food tour we had just set off on. It goes something like this: On a trip out to Los Angeles, the founders Lindsey and Andy had signed up for a culinary tour of the city. After three hours of walking around, they were still hungry and had no buzz to speak of. Well this isn’t good, they thought to themselves. Surely, we can do better!
And do better they did, by starting Austin Eats Food Tours in January 2011 and ensuring that people who put down their hard-earned money for a tour of Austin’s finest food and booze offerings would leave with full bellies, and full hearts. “We love the Austin vibe—live music every night of the week and local restaurants that take as much pride in their unique décor as their original recipes,” Andy says. “We wanted to develop a vehicle that highlights local Texas born establishments throughout the city.”
Seven years in and many many tours later, the couple has perfected the art of touring Austin like a local—so much so that roughly 65 percent of their guests are actually from here. My husband and I are old townies who grew up in Austin and have watched in awe as it’s changed and morphed over the years. The Brunch, BBQ, and Brewery Tour was the perfect way us to check out a bunch of new spots in one go, and observe the ever-changing eastside like a couple of anthropologists.
We were instructed to come hungry, and by the time we met Adam and our new friends at Lazarus Brewing Co., we were starving. Adam—like an angel sent from above—pointed out a long table reserved for our crew and said that orders of breakfast tacos (little, adorable tacos) were already on their way. We immediately loved and trusted Adam. “This is not just a food tour,” he told us, “it’s a support group.” A flight of beer followed, and we got to know our new posse. What struck me right away was how subtle and non-touristy this felt. We just looked like a crew of people who were chatty and friendly. There was nothing about the format of the tour that shouted TOURISTS. Basically, a passing observer would have probably thought we were friends of the owner who were getting some extra TLC.
What followed were brisket kolaches at the Kerlin BBQ trailer where Adam ran across the street to get us a 12 pack of Shiner (again, the man is an angel), chicken and waffles and cactus pear mimosas at The Hightower, and crazy-good gelato at Gemelli. I got the lemon curd and it tasted like the best cheesecake of my life. The tour ended at Zilker Brewing Company, where we tasted more great local beer, and hung around like people with nothing to do but enjoy our city for a few hours. It was sublime.
Along the way Adam pointed out more of his favorite spots in the area and had menu recommendations for each. He was funny, informative, and chill—a guide/friend hybrid that made the tour a total pleasure. The mechanics of the tour were seamless. Everything was paid for, timed beautifully, and thoughtfully put together. They are pumping money into the Austin economy by showing off burgeoning local businesses that are doing something different.
If it’s been a while since you tried some new food in Austin, or you are checking out the city over a short period of time, try an Austin Eats Food Tour. It’s the best way I can think of to get a real taste of Austin—and leave completely satisfied.
Investing in a new restaurant concept probably sounds like something only rich people do, but we’re living in the golden age of crowdfunding, so we can all get in on the ground floor of something big. Eight years ago, the founders of Peli Peli teamed up to bring South African fusion cuisine to Houston. From their initial start in Vintage Park, the team of Executive Chef Paul Friedman, Michael Tran, and Thomas Nguyen have now expanded to three locations throughout the metro area. Both Tran (BS ’99) and Nguyen (BA ’98, JD ’01) are UT Austin grads, so when it came time to expand beyond their home in Houston, they set their sights on ATX.
Plans are for Peli Peli Austin to take over a space in the downtown 2nd Street District and open its doors in September of 2017. The team now has an active expansion campaign on the NextSeed platform where the community can uncover more specifics on the business, team members, and follow up on updates about the restaurant.
To fuel its growth, Peli Peli had resounding success with a campaign in May 2016, raising $358,000 for its Houston Galleria location on NextSeed’s platform in Texas. The funds allowed the restaurant group to increase its working capital and invest in its infrastructure. In just eleven months, the team paid their investors back—well ahead of schedule—returning $409,513 to the members who invested.
Currently, Peli Peli Austin is one of several live campaigns on NextSeed, which means anyone can choose to become an investor.
Since its launch in 2015, NextSeed has facilitated over $4 million in crowdfunded investments in restaurants, bars, and other local businesses in Texas and around the U.S. using state and federal crowdfunding rules. For as little as $100, investors can invest in a project or concept that they feel passionate about—supporting local by investing local.
NextSeed provides the investor with an overview of each campaign, a detailed description of the business model and leadership team, market analysis, all of the investment details, and the opportunity to ask questions in a virtual community forum.
NextSeed was the first SEC-registered regulation crowdfunding platform in the country and is now operating from coast to coast.
To learn more about opportunities like Peli Peli, all the active as well as fully funded campaigns nationwide, visit NextSeed.
Peli Peli Austin | NextSeed from NextSeed on Vimeo.
Any views expressed in this article reflect the personal views of the author only for discussion purposes and should not be viewed as investment advice or recommendation, and does not constitute any legal or tax advice with respect to any securities. Rendering of Peli Peli Austin dining room. Courtesy of NextSeed Rendering of Poitin interior. Courtesy of NextSeed Rendering of Poitin interior bar area. Courtesy of NextSeed.
PDQ (aka “People Dedicated to Quality”) the award-winning restaurant with two locations in Austin and many many devotees, has just announced a bunch of new menu items that have us counting down the minutes to an acceptable lunchtime.
Fans of the restaurant know that the food is ready fast, but that’s where the comparisons to “fast food” end. The new dishes were created by PDQ Executive Chef Michael Brannock and Chef Bryce Bonsack, and include seasonal bowls like the Thai Peanut and Smokehouse BBQ with hand-fried pickles, and premium chicken sandwiches like the Southern Pimento Crunch and Grilled Hawaiian. There are also four new salads, including a healthy Garden Citrus salad and a new Kale Caesar, with shaved brussels sprouts and shaved Parmesan, Asiago, and Romano cheeses.
They’re also rolling out unique sides like roasted garlic broccoli, oven-roasted sweet potatoes with marshmallow fluff and pecans, and hand-breaded fresh zucchini fries. Nearly everything on the menu features PDQ’s 14 homemade sauces and dressings, all made from scratch in-house every day.
PDQ is open for lunch and dinner seven days a week and each location has dine-in, take-out, drive-thru, and event catering. Ok, that’s enough talk about food, we’re off to eat some zucchini fries …
If you haven’t taken the kids to Austin’s Park N Pizza yet, the fam is missing out. Imagine the arcade and Go Kart track of your youth, and then multiply it by about 100. This massive entertainment center in Pflugerville is officially the largest in Central Texas (23 acres!). They already have bowling, three Go Kart tracks, 18-holes of mini-golf, rides, laser tag, and two restaurants, but they’ve just announced more attractions.
The XD Dark Ride Motion Theater is a fully interactive 7D adventure for up to eight riders at a time. The XD Theater includes special effects, wind machines, strobe lights, and rapid motion seats. Participants will grab their own blaster guns and compete for scores as they fight against on-screen enemies.
There are six brand-new climbing walls reaching over 28-feet high and featuring a variety of climbing surfaces: metal, piping, and a zipper climb, all illuminated with LED lighting.
Finally, the arcade has been expanded by 3,000 square feet and 25 new video and prize games have been added to an already expansive selection.
Get the crew out there this summer and see all the craziness for yourselves .
If you can’t get yourself and your giant hat to Louisville this year, don’t fret—the Austin version is every bit as fun. The third-annual Derby in the City Music Festival, an event that fuses everybody’s favorite horse race with live music, is the best way to catch the 143rd running of the Kentucky Derby in Austin. This is, by far, the biggest Race for the Roses party in the city. Dress to impress and head downtown for an amazing lineup of live music featuring Black Pistol Fire, Sweet Spirit, Los Coast, The Watters, and headliner Citizen Cope with his full band!
Odd Duck will be crafting their Makers Mark mint julep, Kentucky mules, and other fabulous cocktails and there will be a solid beer list with Oskar Blues, Odell Brewing, Sierra Nevada, Deep Ellum Brewing, and Schilling Cider. Also check out the food trucks and massive Jockey Club Tent with flat screen TVs.
When: Saturday, May 6th
Time: Gates – 1:30 p.m. | Festival Ends – 9:30 p.m.
Cost: General Admission Tickets – $31.50 for a limited time – price increase coming soon!
VIP – $100, includes:
- Intimate area tucked beneath the oak trees for the ultimate shaded experience
- Complimentary food provided by Odd Duck
- Complimentary massages provided by Austin Massage Company
- Dedicated bar with exclusive choices not available in general admission area
- UPGRADED Luxury VIP toilet station
- Ticket holders receive a swanky VIP GIFT BAG with access to exclusive discounts, products and experiences from companies/merchants such as Kendra Scott, Odd Duck, Austin Massage Company, Soul Cycle and more
- Tables and chairs for seating (seating on a first-come basis)
- Complimentary bottled water
Austin American Statesman
The problem with traditional exercise is that it never involves food—amiright? Luckily this has been rectified by John Hancock Hosts the Cooking Light & Health Fit Foodie Festival & 5K, just the sort of fitness event that a food-obsessed town like Austin can really get behind. Runners will eat their way to the finish line with healthy and amazing bites at every mile, then celebrate at the post-race John Hancock Vitality Village Food and Fitness Festival.
Billed as “the most delicious run ever” (and really, who can argue with that?), the Fit Food Festival & 5K will be serving up a ton of fun on Saturday, May 20, 2017 at Old Settlers Park in Round Rock. The mouthwatering festival proves that a calorie burned is a calorie earned and brings the pages of Cooking Light and Health to life to help you achieve a balance of delicious, healthy food and a fun, active lifestyle.
Inside the John Hancock Vitality Village Food and Fitness Festival, runners will be rewarded for making healthy choices with bites from local restaurants, a beer and wine garden, mini-workout classes, cooking demonstrations, meet-and-greets with John Hancock elite athletes—Olympic marathoners Ryan Hall and Desiree Linden, and more.
Your registration includes:
· Race registration and bib
· Bites at each mile
· Finisher’s medal
· Delicious tasting stations
· Goody bag with gifts from top health and wellness brands
· Cash reward for top finishers
· Included donation to No Kid Hungry
An invaluable part of the Fit Foodie journey is giving back to the community, which is why the series has teamed up with No Kid Hungry as the Official Charity with the mission to encourage runners to form teams, fundraise, and increase awareness for No Kid Hungry. The No Kid Hungry campaign connects kids in need with nutritious food and teaches their families how to cook healthy, affordable meals and also engages the public to make ending child hunger a national priority.
Race registration is open now, so click here to sign up! The cost starts at $35 per person and goes up to $45 on April 17. Spectators receive complimentary admission to the post-race festival.
When: Saturday, May 20th
Time: 8-11:30 a.m.
Old Settlers Park
3300 E Palm Valley Blvd.
Round Rock, TX 78665
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