The Yard, Austin’s home to the next generation of local movers, shakers, and—above all—makers, makes the quick trip south of Ben White worth it. Whether you crave high quality coffee, award-winning wine, a place for your band to jam, or a beach volleyball haven, you’ll find what you want a mere 10 minutes from downtown. Not to mention whiskey, beer, and Thai food. This is the second installment in my series highlighting the talented people setting up shop at this development in south Austin.
Each business at The Yard expresses unbridled enthusiasm for its own passion projects, which were opened for the surrounding community. The team members at Spokesman Coffee, for example, would blush if they heard how highly their neighbors speak of them. This is true about all of the businesses here. It’s rare to walk into any of these hot spots without seeing a familiar face from next door or across the parking lot. This love fest at The Yard creates a festive, harmonious atmosphere that stokes its burgeoning reputation as a stylish, but still edgy, hangout.
I’ve already written about Still Austin Whiskey Co., St. Elmo Brewing Co., and Soursop. Make sure you check out my last article for all that goodness. But I can’t stop there. Let’s take a look at four other local businesses spreading happiness at The Yard.
1/ Spokesman Coffee
Self-aware nerds are the best kind, really. Spokesman Coffee owner Trey Ramirez proudly refers to his partner CJ West and himself as coffee and beer nerds. But he hastens to add, “without the pretense.”
This place does feel cozy and unpretentious. Ramirez and West came by it honestly, with backgrounds at ABGB and Uncle Billy’s (West), and Wright Bros. Brew & Brew and Home Slice Pizza (Ramirez). Ramirez’s eyes light up when he talks about the coffee at Spokesman. He and West choose the coffee regions carefully—places like Ethiopia and Chiapas, Mexico.
Spokesman was the first coffee shop in Austin to receive a permit for open roasting its beans. Head Roaster Ethan Billips (formerly of Cuvee and Frank) provides a “cupping” class on Fridays, allowing patrons to taste the coffee at various stages of roasting.
The beer selection here includes numerous locally- and regionally-made beers. And patrons are drinking it up!
Spokesman draws a good crowd of laptop-gazers during the day, and another set of beer and coffee drinkers at night. Ramirez credits St. Elmo Brewing with “planting the flag” at The Yard, as the first business to draw a crowd to hang out. He finds it “incredibly gratifying” to be welcomed to The Yard so warmly.
Beyond cupping classes, the sometimes coffee shop is acting as a “spokesman” for the local craft beer community, too. During regularly hosted tap takeover nights, patrons can sample several beers from one local brewer, meet the brewer, and basically geek out over beer.
Spokesman has already collaborated with St. Elmo on two different beers, and Zilker Brewing Company on one, creating blends of coffee grounds geared toward a particular type of beer. The best is yet to come, though. Ramirez vows they “have a few things brewing” (*ba dum cha*).
440 E. St. Elmo A-2 – Website
2/ The Austin Winery
The Austin Winery brings another team of passionate makers to The Yard. “A bottle of wine and a soccer ball is your passport to the world,” claims co-owner Ross MacLauchlan. He and partners Cooper Anderson and Matt Smith are on a mission to educate and socially lubricate their patrons. These wine lovers and driven entrepreneurs showcase each step of winemaking magic on the premises of their winery. Involving the public is a central theme here.
MacLauchlan and his team want people to appreciate how wine is made, while stripping away the veil of snobbery surrounding wine. Loving wine and understanding its finer qualities don’t require an elitist, pinkies-up attitude. The people behind this local business recognized potential in The Yard’s community of craft producers when they moved here in 2017. Diving into the community spirit, they are offering a coffee and wine pairing class, and are planning other Yard collaborations. They’re gaining traction in the Texas wine scene, and I’m interested to see what they come up with next.
440 East Saint Elmo Road, A1 – Website
3/ Music Lab
The OG of The Yard in many ways, Music Lab has been going strong at this location since 2000 and has been in business for 25 years with another location on Oltorf. As a creative business catering to the music industry, though, it fits perfectly into the new set up at The Yard. In some ways, Music Lab may have even set the bar (high) for the newcomers.
Music Lab is the go-to audiovisual specialist in Austin. These folks can come out, set up, and run sound for live shows. They’re a one-stop, full service musician’s best friend. The motto here is, “We let people get loud.” Perfect.
As with the other businesses at The Yard, the team at Music Lab expressed nothing but excitement over their neighbors’ businesses. They’re glad to see the community growing.
500 E. St. Elmo Road – Website
4/ Wooly’s Beach
Wooly’s Beach, opened in September 2017, is all beach volleyball, all the time. They take their volleyball seriously. Owners Tim Wooliver and his wife, Cassidy Murray, started Wooly’s Beach as an extension of the existing Texas Volleyball Tours they’ve run for seven years. Tim Wooliver, aka Wooly, is a former pro beach volleyball player and nationally-ranked champion.
As Austin’s interest and participation in beach volleyball has grown, so has the scene. Wooly’s Beach wanted to create a space to build on the excitement.
Wooly’s Beach consists of two sandy volleyball courts. The business offers court rentals, tournaments in various divisions, and private event rentals. The courts are available for open play when not reserved. Wooly’s is also planning to launch volleyball leagues and fitness training classes by Wooliver. The “sand-fit” classes range from basic to elite difficulty levels.
Wooly’s is naturally into the community vibe. Murray shares,
“Our leagues like having a drink or two when or after they practice, so we’ve arranged it so they can bring a St. Elmo’s growler to go, or a bottle of wine from The Austin Winery to the courts. We love all of the other businesses in The Yard and how it feels like a community. “
Pro tip: Wooly’s Beach doesn’t have signage up yet, so look for the courts in front of Sauceda.
440 E. St. Elmo Road – Website
The Yard continues to grow and foster goodwill in south Austin. As the population in the area booms, count on The Yard to schedule lively events, with its business owners putting their heads together to come up with tasty new projects. What are you waiting for? The Yard is waiting for you!
@theAustinot wants to know:
What is your favorite place at The Yard?