Rendering by Mogas + Gonzalez Associated Architects

Changes are ahead for historic downtown New Braunfels, with a new 2.5-acre mixed-use development set to transform and repurpose the former New Braunfels Producers Co-Op. Announced via press release November 16, and slated to open in 2024, the new Co-Op Marketplace will feature a biergarten, restaurants, bars, coffee shops, retail, and park space with a stage for live music.

The site transformation is the brainchild of New Braunfels-area entrepreneurs and business owners, so local residents can take heart that the project was made by locals, for locals. The late, notable New Braunfels businessman Ron Snider was one of the entrepreneurs behind the Co-Op Marketplace idea, working in tandem with his business partners, attorney Mike Myers and real estate developer Fred Heimer.

Now, Snider's wife, Carol, and their son, Chris, owners of nearby Krauses Cafe + Biergarten, are leading the project in honor of Snider's original vision."This is a very exciting project to be involved with and it has evolved a lot along the way while still holding true to what my dad and his partners originally envisioned by bringing something unique to downtown New Braunfels that the community can enjoy," Chris Snider shared in the release.

New Braunfels Co-Op Marketplace The Co-Op Marketplace will transform and repurpose the former New Braunfels Producers Co-Op. Courtesy photo

With construction set to begin in 2023, the new co-op space will be roughly 2.5 acres and feature more than 25,000 square feet of indoor space for guests. The release shared plans to adapt the existing agricultural buildings for the development, transforming structures like the 65-foot-tall grain silo, which will become the market's west entrance.

Plans for the space include more than an acre of outdoor space for guests to enjoy good weather days, with a splash pad and 4,000 square feet of artificial turf, seating, and shade trees.

Co-Op Marketplace New Braunfels The new development will feature a biergarten, restaurants, bars, coffee shops, retail, and park spaces.Rendering by Mogas + Gonzalez Associated Architects

San Antonio-based architectural practice Mogas + Gonzalez have been heavily involved in the plans for the space.

"Mogas + Gonzalez Associated Architects has worked closely with the owners’ vision to repurpose and recycle the existing and historically designated agrarian Co-Op structures to craft a campus of indoor and outdoor spaces that invite the city and its visitors to relax, dine, and celebrate right in the heart of Downtown New Braunfels," said architect Richard Mogas in the release.

The exciting new space will be located at 210 S. Castell Ave. Guests can grab authentic German fare down the street at Krause's and walk down to the Co-Op, which will also have a 13,000 square foot marketplace for restaurants, vendors, and more.

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Hill Country town puts a Texas twist on Carnival season for 18th-annual Cowboy Mardi Gras

Cowboy Mardi Gras

New Orleans may be top of mind for Mardi Gras, but Texas has its fair share of Fat Tuesday festivities. While Galveston's may be the state's oldest celebration and San Antonio wins points for actual floats (courtesy of the River Walk), one little Hill Country town has put its own spin on the annual event for almost twenty years.

Known as the "Cowboy Capital of the World," Bandera hosts a three-day Cowboy Mardi Gras that attracts over 15 thousand people from all over the world to the town of 839 residents. Featuring traditional cajun bands, country music, a Cowboy Mardi Gras parade, costume contests, gumbo cook-off, and more, the 2023 iteration takes place from February 9 to 11.

Bandera is located a little over two hours from Austin, a pleasant trek for those looking for a colorful start to Carnival season. This year's event honors James and Stella McGroarty, former owners of Bandera's 11th Cowboy Bar, who will act as the 2023 Cowboy Mardi Gras Parade Grand Marshals.

With a 20,000 square foot bar and 70-foot stage, the bar is one of the largest music venues in the Texas Hill Country, housed in a historic wood-framed building with a porch out front and expansive outdoor venue area out back. James McGroarty acquired the bar in 2006, transforming it into the destination it is today and elevating the town's annual Cowboy Mardi Gras Parade to the party it is today.

In July 2022, D. Foster, Melinie Ivey, and Richard and Sasha Sutton purchased the bar from McGroarty, planning to carry on McGroarty's legacy.

"We are so honored to take on the tradition of the 18th Annual Cowboy Mardi Gras Parade," says Richard Sutton in a release. "Bandera is a remarkable town that knows how to throw one hell of a party and we're looking to carry on that tradition."

“James McGroarty has said that 11th Street Cowboy Bar is all about providing the best Country Western music experience in Texas and sharing drinks with good friends," adds D. Foster. "He wanted to make all things in Bandera bigger than life. This is why we bought the bar and we want to carry on James McGroarty's legacy."

This year's lineup of live music will feature a variety of artists including Deanna Carter, Gary P. Nunn, Dale Watson, Jake Worthington, and many more. Find a full lineup of music and daily activities at cowboymardigrasbandera.com, as well as ticketing information. Tickets for the festivities start at $75 in advance or $85 at the door.

Photo by Tessa Kolodny

The three-day celebration brings over 15,000 people from all over the world to Bandera.

Houston's Top Chef Season 19 star joins NYC veteran to open Heights 'New Asian American' restaurant

Top Chef star's new restaurant

One of this year’s most eagerly anticipated new restaurants has opened its doors. Jūn begins dinner service on Tuesday, February 7.

Chefs Evelyn Garcia and Henry Lu have teamed up to open Jūn. Best known for her run to the finals of Top Chef’s Houston-based, Season 19, Garcia also served as the executive chef at Decatur Bar & Pop-up Factory, where she earned praise for her Thai dishes, and as the chef-owner of Kin, the stand she operated at the Politan Row food hall that evolved into a regular vendor at a number of Houston-area farmers markets.

Prior to returning home to Houston, Garcia worked at a number of prominent New York restaurants, including Jean George Spice Market and Kin Shop, which was created by Top Chef season one winner Harold Dieterle. Lu brings a similarly impressive resume from New York, including time at Pearl and Ash, Brooklyn’s Llama Inn, and as the executive chef of the Four Happy Men Hospitality Group.

Together, the two friends have created a restaurant they’re describing as “New Asian American.” It includes a range of influences that blends their diverse professional experiences as well as their time living and eating in New York.

“[The menu] showcases our background as first generation children with an eclectic upbringing and having both worked in New York City restaurants,” Garcia writes in an email. “We think of food in a similar way, which is why it's so effortless for us to create together.”

Jūn’s menu includes a wide array of dishes, including a charcuterie board with house-cured meats and smoked rye bread; beef tartare with toasted rice; and carrots with salsa macha, Salvadorian cheese, and quail egg. Entrees include a whole roasted fish that’s seasoned with guajillo and fried chicken that’s marinated in shrimp paste.

Top Chef fans may recognize the shrimp aguachile, which is similar to the snapper dish Garcia created to win the challenge in episode six. Similarly, the lamb with curry takes inspiration from the brisket curry she served in episode five that had Padma Lakshmi raving “Where have you been all my life? This is the curry I’ve been looking for.”

All that eating happens in a 57-seat dining room. Located in the former Steel City Pops/Central City CoOp space at 420 E 20th St., Garcia explains that one specific design feature sold her and Lu on the space.

Courtesy of Jūn

Chefs Evelyn Garcia and Henry Lu have teamed up at Jūn.

“The location has always had the bones for a beautiful restaurant in my eyes so when it was brought to us as a potential location we were ecstatic,” she writes. “We both have only worked in open kitchens in New York, so just the thought of us having a completely visible kitchen is what sold us.”

They worked with Houston’s Gin Design Group (The Lymbar, Mala Sichuan’s Heights location) on the interior. Local artists, including Sierra Estes and Demi Mixon Kahn, have their work on display at the restaurant.

Garcia and Lu introduced Jūn with a series of pop-ups over the past few months. Word of mouth from last week’s invite-only, friends and family services has been overwhelmingly positive. All that’s left is to open the doors. So, chefs, do you feel ready?

“We prepared, prepped and even prepped our staff for what's about to come. Eventually, you have to let it all just happen,” Garcia writes. “One thing we know for sure is that we are able to adapt and pivot as we need when these doors finally open.”

Jūn opens for dinner nightly at 5 pm. Weekend brunch service will begin in the coming weeks.

Be the matching puzzle piece for Shila, a smart foxhound mix at the Houston SPCA

Adoptable Dog

Did you discover a love of puzzles during the pandemic? So did Shila, the three-year-old foxhound mix that's currently at the Houston SPCA.

Thanks to her breed instincts, Shila loves to learn and is happiest solving treat puzzles, playing games, and digging into a challenging bone-type chew. Stuffed toys, however, might not last long.

She also excels at learning new commands, having already mastered "sit" and "back up." Another bonus: She is completely crate-trained.

Shila tends to do best around more mellow dogs, and always wants to be by her humans' side.

Thanks to Houston Texans punter Cameron Johnston and his wife, Tia, who are sponsoring Shila, her adoption fees are completely covered.

That includes Shila's microchip, spay surgery, up-to-date vaccinations, a free sample bag of Hill’s Pet Nutrition, and a free post-exam from any VCA Animal Hospital.

You can meet Shila and all the other adoptable pets at the Houston SPCA, which is open every day from 11 am-6 pm.

spca adoptable dog shila

Photo courtesy of Houston SPCA

She's crate-trained and good at learning commands.