We sell INK – not pixels!

By Steve Cook – BURO Editor

I like to get my Christmas shopping out of the way early and I’ve always liked to give books. I stopped in at Blue Awning Books on Burnet Road to do some browsing and while I was there I asked owner Marshall Hamilton a few questions:

Blue Awning Books owner Marshall Hamilton

BURO: How did Blue Awning Books get started?

HAMILTON: I worked in publishing for many years until the early 2000’s. My wife and I then started in the used book store business by opening a store in Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia, a tourist town about an hour from Washington D.C., where a lot of historic events took place. There’s a national park there and most of our customers tended to be park visitors. We were very busy for 7 months of the year but there was nothing happening the other 5 months so we decided we’d move some place where we could have a 12 month business – also a place without snow! We looked for a city that was big, growing, and had a major university and after much research Austin went to the top of our list. We moved here and opened Blue Awning Books in January 2012.

BURO: Why Burnet Road?

HAMILTON: We knew nothing about Austin so our realtor gave us a list of around 25 potential locations – we drove around and looked at every one of them. We saw some interesting spaces on Lamar and on Congress, but then we got to Northwest Center on Burnet Road – the one with the blue awnings.  We liked the space, the feeling of the center, and the presence of other stores that would bring people to the center. I was surprised to know that Northwest Center dates back to the 1940’s.

BURO: What sets Blue Awning Books apart from other book stores??

The Life of George Washington, 1836 – click for larger view

HAMILTON: We deal in quality used books. If you’re looking for the latest John Grisham novel we’re not for you. In the chain stores about 70% of the inventory is fiction. We’re the opposite – with 70% non-fiction. Most of our books are hard cover and they tend to be books that have persistent value. We’ve got a lot of books on history and politics, and a large selection of books on WWII. Some of our books are very old, including an 1836 copy of ‘The Life of George Washington’ by M.L. Weems. We’ve sold books that were published as far back as 1520.

BURO: Where do you get your books?

HAMILTON: We get most of our books from auctions. We recently bought about two thousand books from an auction held by Larry McMurtry. Larry owns a used book store in Archer City, Texas (the fictional town of Anarene in The Last Picture Show was based on Archer City). We actually attended a showing of The Last Picture Show at the theater in Archer City that was the inspiration for the movie.

BURO: Who shops at Blue Awning Books?

HAMILTON: People who like the printed page – we sell ink, not pixels! With the holidays coming, books make terrific gifts. Some people may hesitate to give a used book as a gift, but I would say that if you can find a book that is right down the alley of the person you’re buying for, it would be better to give a 12 year old book that’s in good condition, and is right on topic, than something new that you chose from a stack of hundreds at a chain store.

Blue Awning Books
6009 Burnet Road
Northwest Center (look for the blue awnings!)
Austin, TX 78757

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Video: A relaxing drive down Burnet Road

By Steve Cook – BURO Editor

Last month I decided to take a drive down Burnet Road at sunrise (don’t ask me why). Anyway, I mounted my iPhone on the dashboard and drove from Burnet Road at Steck to Burnet Road at 45th Street.

Here’s the resulting Burnet Road video. If you’re having trouble sleeping you’ll appreciate this!

WARNING: Watching this Burnet Road video may cause drowsiness.

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Tacodeli to open second Burnet Road store

By Steve Cook – BURO Editor

tacodeli_burnet_roadYesterday I was investigating a rumor I’d heard about a new Tacodeli opening in the Centennial Shopping Center at 7301 Burnet Road. I stopped by and saw new construction in the space formerly occupied by China Buffet.

I tracked down Tacodeli partner/owner Eric Wilkerson and asked him a few questions:

BURO: Tell us a little about the history of Tacodeli.

WILKERSON: Tacodeli was founded by Roberto Espinosa. Roberto lived in Mexico City as a youngster, then moved to Austin for a year while still in middle school. The family eventually settled in Harlingen, in the Texas Valley. Later Roberto moved back to Austin, where he graduated from U.T. in the early 90’s. In 1999 he opened the first Tacodeli at 1500 Spyglass in Rollingwood. I came on board as a partner and owner in early 2000, having also graduated from U.T. with an information technology degree. Roberto is Tacodeli‘s creative side and I’m the business side. Today we have 3 Austin locations and we employ around 130 people.

Tacodeli will occupy the old China Buffet space at 7301 Burnet Road

BURO: Tell us about the food at Tacodeli.

WILKERSON: Having lived in Mexico City, the Valley, and Austin, Roberto is inspired by the respective styles and flavors of each locale. Roberto also trained in kitchens in the Yucatan. Our food is a blending of these influences and is unique to Tacodeli.

BURO: What made you decide to open a second Burnet Road location?

WILKERSON: There are many factors. Our Gracy Farms location at 12001 Burnet Road is extremely popular and our customers usually come to us from within a 2-3 mile radius, so a second Burnet Road location was a natural. The Centennial Shopping Center at 7301 Burnet Road provides an excellent mix of business and neighborhood customers and we’ve got great co-tenants. We also like this location because of the lack of congestion and the unbelievable amount of parking. The center has around 400 parking spaces, which is the most available parking of any of our locations!

BURO: When will the new Burnet Road store open?

WILKERSON: Our goal is to open in the Spring of 2014. We’re excited about the fact that the Centennial Shopping Center is about to undergo a major renovation. We’ll also be opening a new store in the Village at Westlake around the same time.

Open for Breakfast & Lunch

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Upscale Women’s Boutique on Burnet Road

Restyle – 7301 Burnet Road

By Steve Cook – BURO Editor

Today I was investigating a rumor I’d heard about a second Burnet Road Tacodeli opening in the shopping center at 7301 Burnet Road. After I checked that out I wandered into Restyle, a unique upscale women’s boutique a few doors down. I was graciously welcomed by store manager Barbie Kingston and I asked her a few questions:

BURO: How long has Restyle been around?

KINGSTON: We opened on Burnet Road seven years ago in this very shopping center.

BURO: What type of women’s clothing do you offer?

KINGSTON: We carry everything from the typical brands you would find at the mall all the way up to high-end designers like Ann Taylor, Diane von Furstenberg, Coach, Prada, Gucci and many more.

BURO: Where does your inventory come from?

KINGSTON: Two sources: some of our merchandise comes from consignments, and the rest comes from boutique resale – we actually collect inventory from boutiques at the end of their season – then we turn around and sell it at heavily discounted prices.

BURO: How current is your merchandise?

KINGSTON: Our goal is to present items that are no older than three years. Our inventory is updated and rotated daily.

BURO: Who shops at Restyle?

KINGSTON: Upscale ladies who appreciate branded clothing at extremely low prices!

7301 Burnet Road
Suite 105
Austin, TX 78757

ladies_dresses_burnet_road ladies_accessories_burnet_road womens-jewelry-burnet-road

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Z Cars on Burnet Road

1971 Datsun 240 Z. Click for larger view.

By Steve Cook – BURO Editor

I was driving North on Burnet Road this morning when I pulled up right behind a green 1971 Datsun 240 Z. It made me think of the first time I ever saw a Z car.

The year was 1972 and I was hanging out with my fellow delinquents on West Avenue waiting for classes to start at Austin High (yes, way back in the last century when Austin High was on Rio Grande). A buddy of mine suddenly pulled up in his new car – a green Datsun 240 Z. I’d never seen one before and it immediately drew a crowd and became the hot topic of the day.

Return to present: I followed this classic beauty as it turned left from Burnet Road onto the 183 access road and pulled into the Jim’s parking lot. To my surprise there were about a dozen more classic Z cars there. I asked one of the drivers what was going on and he informed me that the Capital Z of Texas car club was meeting for breakfast, after which they would be moving across the highway to Town North Nissan for one of their monthly meetings.

Steve Medoza, President and Brad Richardson, VP

When I arrived at Town North Nissan I met up with club president Steve Mendoza and asked him a few questions:

BURO: How long has the Capital Z of Texas club been around?

MENDOZA: The club started around 1987 as a venue for Z car owners to show off their cars. The club has morphed over the years – at one point we went through a racing stage. Today the club is for Z car owners and enthusiasts who like to go on drives, add modifications to their cars, tinker, etc. We meet on the 4th Monday of each month.

BURO: How many members do you have?

MENDOZA: We have several hundred members on our website (www.czot.org), and from 20 to 35 active members who come to meetings and drives.

Click photos for larger view.

BURO: Do you have to own a Z car to be a member?

MENDOZA: Not at all – you just have to love Z cars and like to drive!

BURO: Tell us about your drives.

MENDOZA: First of all, we have a lot of first generation Z cars which generally don’t do so well in hot weather, so our monthly drives usually start in Fall. A lot of the time our drives are based on a good place to stop for lunch. One of our senior members plans the route in advance and actually drives it himself first. Some of our cars have been through restorations, including immaculate paint jobs – we don’t want to take chances with flying rocks and gravel. Our drives take place all over – the Hill Country drives are very popular.

BURO: What happens at your meetings?

MENDOZA: We generally start off with a topic, which could include adding modifications, finding parts, maintenance issues, etc. We’ve even designed tools for pulling parts and making the air/ventilation systems work better. It’s really all just about tinkering!

You can learn more about Capital Z of Texas car club at their website – www.cotz.org.

TRIVIA: I was curious about why the Nissan motor company introduced the Z car under the Datsun brand. According to Steve it was a P.R. move on Nissan’s part. Nissan thought there still might be American resentment against Japanese companies involved in the war effort for World War II , so they created the Datsun brand in order to first enter the U.S. automotive market.

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I was framed on Burnet Road!

By Steve Cook – BURO Editor

Images of Austin on Burnet Road
Images of Austin – 5933 Burnet Road

I was window shopping on Burnet Road and I wandered in to a very unique art and frames store – Images of Austin.

In addition to their full service custom framing services, Images of Austin features original artwork and prints of the Southwest, Central Texas, and Austin’s favorite places.

Images was founded 29 years ago by Austin artist Mary Doerr, and today Mary’s daughter Robin, an accomplished artist herself as well as a native Austinite, is at the helm. Robin’s co-pilot is Austin native Bud Soto, whose father Ishmael Soto is a renowned artist and potter.

Images of Austin has a huge number of customers who appreciate both the artwork in the shop and the professional custom framing services offered. In addition to many individual customers, Images of Austin has provided art and framing services for the University of Texas, the State of Texas, the City of Austin, and numerous corporations.

Images of Austin
5933 Burnet Road
Austin, TX 78756

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