Pt 2. Interview: James White & the Broken Spoke

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George Strait. Photography by the Broken Spoke. 

On May 1, 2019 —For the second year in a row, I interviewed James White at the Broken Spoke sitting at table B2 next to a replica of Willie Nelson’s guitar, Trigger. The same booth where Willie Nelson and his wife, Annie, used to dine in decades past. Coincidentally, one year ago I interviewed him on the exact same day. This was not planned and I just so happen to notice this coincidence whilst uploading the audio files post-interview. Last year, the story was published in a local rock-n-roll zine in ATX and I titled it “James White talks 54 years at the Broken Spoke“. The first interview was a bird’s eye view of the last 54 years. Audio from the interview in 2018 can be found online, too. Mr. White talked to me about his quest, the dream of opening a honky tonk and meeting his wife and falling in love with Annetta. He told me about the volunteers who made the building by hand, one of which was a man so drunk he fell off the roof. The first time they booked Willie Nelson back in 1967. Back when Willie wore short hair, clean shaven and wore either a turtle neck, a vest or a sports coat. White told me about the time Dolly Parton came to film “Wild Texas Nights” in the eighties. He told me about the film “Broken Arrow” featuring Jimmy Stewart and how it inspired him to name the Broken Spoke after it. The time Rowdy almost got shot by a police officer when someone stole his father’s silver saddle that is now kept in a glass case.

“A lot of people, you know, they ask me, why did you go into this kind of business? All the way down to my childhood, my parents would take me to different dance halls in this area, and that’s where I got the love of country music in my veins… When I was in the Army, I didn’t know what I was gonna do when I got out of the Army. So I thought it would be kind of neat to open up a place of my own, similar to the places when I was growing up in Austin. It just became like a quest of mine the day I left the Army. And when I came out under the big ole oak tree out front (on South Lamar), I just kind of visualized a place like no other and when I got it built: I named it the Broken Spoke. The reason I thought up that name, I wanted something original. I wanted something country, I wanted something western. Texas style”. – James White

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Over the decades, Mr. White has become friends with the likes of Willie Nelson, Alvin Crow, George Strait, Garth Brooks and the list goes on and on like a jukebox with endless vinyl’s to play. Thankfully, the Broken Spoke isn’t showing any signs of slowing down. In fact, their business is booming right now! This recent kaboom is due to a delightful visit from one of Texas’ most adored and esteemed country western musicians: George Strait.

Last winter, during a daytime walk I noticed an entourage outside of the Broken Spoke and became very curious. True, I see photo shoots and video crews outside the building all the time. People travel from all over to photograph and film this beloved Texas classic. However, this was a larger than usual crew of people. A few nights later, Steven Mark and I trailed in for a few libations. At which point, Mr. White informed my boyfriend and I that the infamous King of Country, the one and only, George Strait was at the Broken Spoke for his latest album Honky Tonk Time Machine.

Universal Records and Spotify came out to film and photograph George Strait at the Spoke, as well as interview Mr. White. On the one hand, I was stunned that George Strait came back to the Broken Spoke for a photoshoot — the sheer idea George Strait was in my hometown at a local bar right around the corner was mystifying. I’ve never seen him in person. Strait is a cowboy I’ve heard singing to me all my life through radios, stereos and televisions. All my life, his face has been all over Texas and the south, and yet, he has no bloody clue who I am. And yet, here Mr. White is just hanging out casually with a long time friend. So, on the other hand—I was not stunned or shocked—it’s just another sunny day in the colorful story of Mr. White, his family and life at the Broken Spoke.

“You can find a chisel, I can find a stone. Folks will be reading these words, long after we’re gone. Baby, write this down, take a little note, to remind you in case you didn’t know. Tell yourself I love you and I don’t want you to go, write this down. Take my words, read ’em every day, keep ’em close by, don’t you let ’em fade away. So you’ll remember what I forgot to say, write this down.” – George Strait

Back in the late 70’s and early 80’s, James White booked George Strait for seven years. At the time, Strait was a part of band near San Marcos called Ace in the Hole. Once he became more and more famous, the booking fees outgrew the Broken Spoke. Decades later, true to Texas form, Mr. Strait never forgot his roots and came back to the honky tonk dance hall in Austin. George Strait also brought his wife, Norma, and his driver, Leroy. Weeks later, Broken Spoke was featured on the front cover of George Strait’s latest album “Honky Tonk Time Machine”. The album was released on Feb. 11, 2019. Later on, when George Strait performed at the 2019 Academy of Country Music Awards in April. The backdrop featured a photo of the Broken Spoke and by the graphic effects, it almost looked as if they were playing outside the building. The bright colors of the Texas flag blowing in the wind against the woodwork, the wagon wheels and the honky tonk dance hall. This is outstanding publicity for the Broken Spoke! Ever since, more visitors, from all over are flocking to the Broken Spoke. Which is fantastic news because the city of Austin treasures the local hotspots and it’s comforting to know business is alive and well at the Spoke. I liked hearing James White tell the story about when he finally informed George Strait about the ladies bathroom Annetta adorned with his cowboy pictures. Apparently, Strait was very flattered and had a real good sense of humor about it. I was told he even gave Annetta a kiss on the cheek!

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With only five cases of beer to sell, James White opened the Broken Spoke in 1964. After he was released from the U.S. Army at the age of 25 – Mr. White decided to pursue the quest, his dream, of opening a honky tonk in Austin, Texas to feature live country music and a dance hall. In the beginning, Broken Spoke was a local roadhouse where beer cost .25 cents a bottle and customers could get ice and a soft drink for .30 cents to chase down their liquor. Back in those days, before the peak of craft cocktails, people could bring their own liquor bottles to the bar in Texas. Now in 2019, over 55 years later, Broken Spoke has become a worldwide famous dance hall with a full bar and restaurant. By the late 80’s the Broken Spoke started to gain more and more fame. Featured in Texas Highways magazine, The Food Network, The New York Times, Nat Geo Traveler, CBS News, Texas Monthly, The Smithsonian and more; Broken Spoke is a historical landmark. The Broken Spoke is owned and operated by James and Annetta White. The two met at a dance hall in 1961 when she caught his eye and have been married 52 years. Annetta and her husband have worked together for decades to keep the Broken Spoke running successfully. Amongst her many contributions to the Broken Spoke, I discovered that Annetta is the one responsible for the George Strait photographs covering the women’s bathroom, giving the ladies room some cowboy vibes. For which, I am grateful.

“I ain’t got a dime, but what I got is mine. I ain’t rich, but Lord I’m free. Amarillo by mornin’. Amarillo’s where I’ll be”. – George Strait

Days prior to meeting Mr. White for a second interview, I felt anxious. Over the last 14 years, I’ve conducted hundreds of interviews. But I still got intimidated before interviewing James White. Even though the first interview went very well and the story was appreciated – even though I had no reason to feel anxiety because Mr. White and his entire family have been so friendly to me. Secretly, I still felt intimidated like, “What in the world am I going to ask this man that another writer hasn’t already inquired about? Is my story going to be any good at all? Where do I even start the second interview? How do I condense so much history into a few pages?” Instead of delving into my self-doubt as a Texan, I chose to chase the story. And I am glad I did.

Mr. James White is one of the kindest and most down-to-earth individuals I’ve ever interviewed. Out of all the celebrities, artists and entrepreneurs I’ve interviewed over the last 14 years – the White family will always linger fondly in my memory for making me feel welcomed. Not everyone I interview is so kind or humble, and the kindness is forever permeated into my brain. In a way, the Broken Spoke now feels like it’s become part of my own Texas history, too. I can understand wholeheartedly why people have coined the Broken Spoke as “the country western version of Cheers“.

During the second interview, late that morning, there was some commotion in the background. People looking for a key to the walk-in freezer. Beer shipments had arrived and the freezer was locked. Throughout the interview, you can hear people coming and going, including one of his daughters, Terri White. She teaches dance lessons at the Broken Spoke. Terri was kind enough to bring me some fried okra she’d just cooked in the kitchen. Walking over to table B2, she asked me if I wanted a bite, I said yes and took only one piece, as to not feel greedy. I guess she read my mind, because she reached into the basket and placed a handful of okra onto the table and left me with a napkin. It made me smile and I thanked her, again. It was a very sweet moment and reminded me that one of the many reasons why I’m grateful to be a Texas girl: southern hospitality and the love of sharing food and drinks together.

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Artwork by Kevin Geil.

Mr. White has another daughter, Ginny White Peacock. There is a fundraiser for Ginny on May 17, 2019 starting at 8 P.M. CST. Last year, I met her at the previous interview, and she was also very lovely and polite to me. She talked to me about the buildings electrical oddities and asked about my artwork. Recently, after many serious, life-changing health concerns that caused Ginny to lose both her feet and legs, below the knee, and nine fingers—as well as undergo a lot of painful surgeries she’s still recovering from—the Broken Spoke is hosting a silent and live auction to raise money for Ginny to obtain prosthetic legs. A wife and mother to two young boys, the fundraiser is a chance “to celebrate and come together to raise money so Ginny can get back on her feet”. Two Tons of Steel, Derailers, The Wagoneers w/ Monte Warden and other special guests will play music for the benefit. The auction entails over 100 items and collectibles. Including an autographed Limited Edition George Strait guitar (and an autographed cowboy hat) donated by George Strait & Tom Foote. A round of golf foursome with celebrity Ray Benson at Barton Creek Country Club. Ginny’s artwork will also be featured at the benefit. Please come on out to support the White family! If unable to attend the event, there is also a GoFundMe campaign where donations can be made to help Ginny on her road to robot legs.

Music and drinks aren’t all the Broken Spoke has to offer. Their barbecue is quite delicious and they are notorious for their chicken fried steak. On occasion, Mr. White still chops wood for the kitchen. Out at his ranch, there are some gullies and ravines that he uses a tractor to find wood for the fire. Live oak, Spanish oak and Heritage oak are the kinds of firewood he and his crew brings to the Broken Spoke to smoke meats. “It helps zap the taste in there and it’s sort of a flame-kissed smoked process”, stated White. The Spoke has had a BBQ pit from day one and way back in the day, James White and Bobby Flay used to cook together.

It would take several books to document all the history of the Broken Spoke. There is simply no way to condense it all for a literary journalism piece for the web. I hope to compile all my recordings into a short story and get it published elsewhere. Meantime, if you’d like to hear James White talk about the time Garth Brooks played a surprise show at the Broken Spoke in 2017. Booking George Strait back in the 70’s and how White was contacted for the cover of his latest album. Please stay tuned for the interview to go live!

“It’s a heart thing you feel good about. At the end of the day, I take more pictures now than I ever took in my life before now. Hell, no one wanted my picture in 1964 but now everyone does and I’ll make up for lost time. There were fun times in the 1960’s and everything was new. I just had so much fun here at the Spoke. But I think the one (press) thing we did with Texas Highways stood out the most. It’s like the gift that keeps on giving. Now we’re on every roadside park in Texas at the rest stops. I mean you come in and there’s a picture of the Broken Spoke and the Cadillac outside. And then on the left there at the state Capitol, it’s right there you know. You got music, you got Texas and then you got the Broken Spoke. It’s a very good compliment to us. Since then we’ve been voted the Best Country Dance Hall in the nation, home of the best chicken fried steak in town, a lot of metropolitan awards. We’ve won a lot of awards. I’m in the Texas Hall of Fame and the Smithsonian. I’m in the Country Music Hall of Fame… I never expected it. All I really wanted was a honky tonk dance hall. So I got what I wanted, but then I got a lot more. Which is fine, it’s fun, a hell a lot more fun to have people brag about you than bitch about you. It’s always more fun to get compliments”. – James White

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The Mexic-Arte Museum hosts Taste of Mexico 2016 in honor of Cinco de Mayo

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Taste of Mexico 2016: A Culinary Arts Festival celebrating Cinco de Mayo. Photography by The Mexic-Arte Museum.

The Mexic-Arte Museum celebrated Cinco de Mayo early this year by hosting a decadent and heartfelt party, Taste of Mexico 2016, at Brazos Hall in Austin, Texas. Cinco de Mayo is an annual celebration on May 5th and Taste of Mexico 2016 was a culinary arts festival in honor of this holiday. Brazos Hall was decorated top to bottom, upstairs and downstairs, filled with brightly colored red and violet spotlights. Dozens  of food and beverage vendors were carefully placed about the space. Tacos & tequila, a mariachi band, a DJ, a photo booth and artwork also adorned the venue. Piñatas in the form of painted dolls, calaveras (skulls) and flowers dangled from the ceiling, too. The party was so full that at one point guests had to wait outside in line to get in as to not overfill maximum occupancy. Brazos Hall is a fairly large turn-of-the-century warehouse venue. Therefore the fact Taste of Mexico 2016 reached maximum occupancy not even one hour into the party on a Wednesday night is a testament that The Mexic-Arte Museum knows how to throw a fun-filled celebration for the community.

Taste of Mexico is a festival of Mexican and Mexican-inspired cuisine and beverages from over 30 of Austin’s most eclectic restaurants, food trucks, and flavorful purveyors featuring fine tequilas, mezcals, wines, beers, and other refreshing beverages. Taste of Mexico also featured the Bazaar del Arte, including Mexican folk arts and crafts, unique gifts, one-of-a-kind jewelry pieces, selections from the Museum Store, and the Pop-up Print Shop hosted by our very own Screen It! students and the Education Department. In collaboration with the Consulate General of Mexico, Mexic-Arte Museum was pleased to present Chef Ángel Vázquez as their Chef of Honor for Taste of Mexico 2016. Vázquez is known for his international palette and sophisticated dishes that represent a Poblana-Mexican kitchen. His critically acclaimed restaurant Intro (Cholula, Puebla) boasts cuisine that takes inspiration from countries such as Morocco, Thailand, Greece, Spain, France, and more. His latest projects include Salome Antojeria Del Mar y Mezcal, Carbon Central de Hamburguesas, and Augurio Comedor Poblano. All ticket sales supported the Mexic-Arte Museum in its mission to offer enriching educational programs and provide the community with outstanding exhibitions.”

Writer and Austin Examiner, Nicolette Mallow, attended Taste of Mexico 2016. Mallow has previously covered celebrations hosted by The Mexic-Arte Museum such as Viva la Vida, a Día de los Muertos event. A local A&E writer and Latina from Tejas, Mallow has experienced many of the museum’s sponsored events. The time and thoughtfulness put into each party is so evident just by regarding the immaculate detail and intricate decorations. The Mexic-Arte Museum always hosts events that flow smoothly for guests. Even the pamphlet for Taste of Mexico 2016 included a guided map to all 30 vendors and their menu. Most of all, the staff and vendors are friendly and hospitable, making the party all the more delightful. Whether you’re a member of the Latino/Hispanic/Mexican community or not—everyone is welcomed with open arms and there is a sense of family, continuity and love at every celebration the museum hosts. Mexico and Texas are known for their hospitality and fiery personalities, so this infusion of a Mexican holiday celebrated in downtown ATX is a strong and vibrant combination. Anyone that attends a celebration hosted by The Mexic-Arte Museum is guaranteed to have a good time. Simply put, The Mexic-Arte Museum organizes genuine and unforgettable parties with memories that last a lifetime. Once you enter the doors, attendees feel a vivacious, playful and radiant energy that is bound to put a smile on anyone’s face. And you will want the party to last throughout the night.

To view photographs from Taste of Mexico 2016 and to view a list of the sponsors that helped facilitate the event, please visit their website at www.mexic-artemuseum.org.

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 Note: This article was originally published on Examiner.com in May 2016.  

Ethan Hawke and crew from ‘In A Valley of Violence’ attend Arts & Cinema Centre

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Ethan Hawke attending Arts & Cinema Centre premier party for “In A Valley of Violence”. Photography by Dawson Smith.

To celebrate the world premiere of the film “In A Valley of Violence” starring Ethan Hawke and John Travolta—Hollywood event company A-List Communications hosted its popular Arts & Cinema Centre with venue partner Basecamp and Summit in Austin, Texas on Saturday, Mar. 12, 2016.

The Arts & Cinema Centre cocktail party took place during the opening weekend of SXSW 2016 on the rooftop of the Summit venue located at 120 West 5th St. Overlooking the downtown skyline, the rooftop has a vibrant view of the Warehouse District and particularly Mr. Robot’s glowing and stellar 100 ft. Coney-island Ferris Wheel. Sponsored by Maestro Dobel® Tequila and Miller-Coors Brewing. Maestro Dobel® Tequila offered specialty cocktails including its signature “Black Diamond Margarita” and Miller-Coors provided its Blue Moon Brewing selections to A-list talent, media and filmmakers in attendance.

Film cast and crew in attendance of the cocktail party included Ti West (Director), Jason Blum (Producer) and stars Ethan Hawke and Toby Huss. Earlier that day at 6:30 P.M. CST—“In A Valley of Violence” had its world premiere for the 2016 SXSW Film Festival. The SXSW Music, Film and Interactive Conferences and Festivals is celebrating its 30th year. “In A Valley of Violence” is a narrative feature and headliner film that has three official screenings on the SXSW schedule.

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The official synopsis of the film released by Focus Features states the following: “A mysterious drifter named Paul (Ethan Hawke) and his dog Abbie (Jumpy) make their way towards Mexico through the barren desert of the old west. In an attempt to shorten their journey they cut through the center of a large valley—landing themselves in the forgotten town of Denton—a place now dubbed by locals as a valley of violence. The once popular mining town is nearly abandoned, and controlled by a brash group of misfits and nitwits—chief among them, the seemingly untouchable, Gilly (James Ransone) who is the troublemaking son of the town’s unforgiving Marshal (John Travolta). As tensions rise between Paul and Gilly, Denton’s remaining residents bear witness to an inevitable act of violence that starts a disastrous chain reaction, infecting the petty lives of all involved and quickly drags the whole town into the bloody crosshairs of revenge. Mary-Anne (Taissa Farmiga) and Ellen (Karen Gillan), two bickering sisters who run the town’s only hotel, try to find the good in both men, while desperately searching for their own salvation. Only the world-weary Marshal struggles to stop the violent hysteria, but after a gruesome discovery about Paul’s past… there is no stopping the escalation. From writer/director Ti West (“The House of the Devil”, “The Innkeepers” and “The Sacrament”) and Blumhouse Productions (“Insidious”, “The Visit”, “Whiplash” and “The Gift”)—”In A Valley of Violence” brings absurdist humor, unique dialogue and West’s shocking scenes of violence to the Western genre. The film also boasts a stellar supporting cast that includes Toby Huss, Burn Gorman, and genre darling Larry Fessenden.”

Note: This article was originally published on Examiner.com in March 2016. 

Slings and Arrows: Zodiac Vodka concocts a romantic recipe for cocktail lovers

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Zodiac Vodka: Slings and Arrows cocktail recipe.

Zodiac Vodka released several exquisite cocktail recipes in honor of Valentine’s Day weekend. Slings and Arrows is my favorite recipe: a refreshing and succulent mixture of vodka, lemon, thyme, simple syrup, vanilla bean and champagne. Slings and Arrows can be appreciated by all vodka or bubbly connoisseurs. Whether you wish to pair a cocktail alongside dinner, or simply relax with a libation. This easy-to-make, elegant and bold concoction is bound to seduce and calm your senses. Its presentation and scent is so soothing that it lures you to slow down and take a peaceful moment to imbibe.

Slings and Arrows is a drink of mystique that is suitable for any romantic occasion—which is why Zodiac Vodka featured this cocktail for Valentine’s Day. Rest assured, Valentine’s Day is not only a commercial holiday for lovers and couples to show their affection together. Valentine’s Day is a time to love yourself as an individual and to mark the month of February as a memorable time of self-endearment. Therefore, this amorous cocktail is suited for everyone. Think of Valentine’s Day as a time to treat yourself to decadence and passion. Zodiac is a perfect vodka to pick because of its smooth, clean creation that gives it a brilliant taste.

“Most vodkas aren’t made in one place. Water from here. Ingredients from there. Distilling and bottling happen somewhere else altogether. That’s one way to go. Another way is to handcraft vodka in a quiet town along the majestic banks of the Snake River. To combine humble little spuds harvested from the valley’s rich volcanic soil with water born high in the Upper Tetons. Single Source Distillation® means Zodiac is made from beginning to end, entirely in Idaho. The resulting smooth, clean spirit proves that like Idaho’s vast starlit sky, sometimes the best things are only found off the beaten path™.”

A demonstration video portraying the making of Slings and Arrows can be found online. All of Zodiac’s cocktail recipes are posted with the inclusion of a video to guide guests through the process. For anyone seeking to mix a memorable cocktail that is less oriented around romance, something a bit more casual, yet equally flavorful. Zodiac Vodka also features other recipes including the following: Texas Golden Girl, Star Eyed Julep, and Bullseye. Each cocktail entails various flavors, recipes and garnishes ranging from strawberries, honey, rosemary, ginger, jalapeño, lemon and mint.

Several liquor stores in Austin, Texas are presently stocked with Zodiac Vodka. However, a store locator is also available on the internet and by entering a zip code: guests can find out where to buy this product nationwide. For more information regarding Zodiac Vodka, please refer to their website at www.zodiacvodka.com.

 Note: This article was originally published on Examiner.com in February 2016.

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Naomi Whittel: Founder of Reserveage Nutrition has a vision for global wellness

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Naomi Whittel. Photography by Jack Plunkett.

Founder and CEO of Reserveage™ Nutrition, Naomi Whittel has dedicated her career to naturally beautify the world with a vision oriented around science, health and wellness. Whittel is a ‘nutritional navigator’ who travels the globe studying various cultures and ecosystems to discover the best standards in nutritional health. Launching her company with four products in March 2009—Reserveage™ Nutrition now offers an extensive list of products ranging from skin hydration, metabolism boosters, anti-aging, cardiovascular support, antioxidants, and much more. Naomi Whittel has received several prestigious awards for her role as a successful female entrepreneur, including the following: the Gold Stevie Winner as Female Executive of the Year and the Silver Stevie Winner as Female Entrepreneur of the Year. “Naomi Whittel is one of the nation’s leading female innovators in the natural products industry. With two decades of experience in developing and managing sustainable companies in the health and wellness sector, she is the founder and CEO of Reserveage Nutrition™ and two sister companies: ResVitale™ and ReBody™. Together these natural health supplement brands have earned over 30 industry awards in four years, and are recognized for their mission to produce life-changing products based on ground-breaking science.”

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Recently, Naomi Whittel assented to an interview with a local Arts & Entertainment Examiner, Nicolette Mallow, to talk entrepreneurship and becoming a CEO at the age of 23. Whittel also shared some helpful tips and insights related to wellness. The interview was held within the Press room at Prevention Magazine’s third annual R3 Summit held at ACL Live at The Moody Theater in Austin, Texas.

Nicolette Mallow: On stage, you spoke of age and numbers. You emphasized that a number doesn’t define us no matter how young or advanced in age. Listening to you talk about starting a company that went global and being the CEO at 23 years old is so inspiring to all female (or male) entrepreneurs. However, I also recall during the presentation you mentioned that sometimes in the past you hid the fact you were the CEO because you felt your age might cause others to not take you seriously… How did you overcome the fear of being the youngest? It’s important for us all to learn from our elders or those with the experience of time that exceeds our own. But I have often felt the same way as an artistic professional when I’m the youngest, and often the only female, in a group where everyone else is older. It can be hard to be taken seriously and it can feel discouraging… How did you break free of all that and succeed?

Naomi Whittel: Being a young entrepreneur can be difficult. In hindsight, I wish that I hadn’t always kept it a secret that I was the CEO. But it’s a learning process for everyone starting out. First off, in order to succeed you have to be willing to fail and to be bold. To take risks. Failure is a huge part of success, but so long as you hold fast to your purpose and sustain boldness in all you do. In due time your visions and dreams will transpire. It’s also imperative to have a voice and to be honest with yourself. To know your strengths and weaknesses… Not long ago, I was in a meeting with other entrepreneurs and we were discussing investments. We needed to raise money for something that day and it seemed daunting to the others. At first no one was willing to invest, but I saw no reason to not make a move and act. I was the first one, and the youngest, to offer up a check to invest. Once I made the first move, the others were interested in the investment and we raised the money that day. Boldness goes a long way… Once you harness your internal power and know how to use it in a healthy way. Once you find a vision and hold onto it: falling into success becomes natural.

NM: Speaking of healthy, in regards to nutrition and wellness, it can be daunting for those just starting out with a mission to achieve a better diet or a healthier lifestyle. There are thousands of books, recipes and products out there for people to try. Where to begin? What is your advice for anyone wanting to change their lifestyle and nutritional diet but they don’t know where to start?

NW: Yes there is a lot of information there. I would advise the first step to be the elimination of processed foods. Processed foods do not carry natural nutrients, or often any nutrients, and therefore the body is not getting anything vital or healthy from these processed foods. Processed foods can do more harm than good. Solely because processed foods often carry a lot of chemicals and damaging, artificial substances within them, too. People aren’t always aware that what they are eating isn’t actually food at all… I was fortunate to grow up in a home of science and chemistry with parents focused on a biodynamic, organic lifestyle. However, I want everyone to join me on the journey to wellness no matter how or when their journey begins.

NM: My last question is, for those of us who sustain an overall healthy diet, exercise, drink plenty of fluids, take nutritional supplements and hydrate our skin, hair and nails. For those of us who feel we are nearly doing it all. What is something else that we can do to improve our diet and overall wellness?

NW: Intermittent fasting is something even the pro’s can forget to do. Fasting periodically from 8 PM to NOON has amazing benefits on the body. Intermittent fasting has proven to control blood sugar and insulin. It can promote weight loss and reduce cholesterol levels. Intermittent fasting can even assist with cellular repair or inflammation in the body, reducing stress.

For more information regarding Naomi Whittel’s background story or to view and purchase products online, please visit www.reserveage.com.

Note: This article was originally published on Examiner.com in January 2016.

The Driskill Hotel hosts holiday traditions in Texas for more than a century

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Floral arrangements in December at The Driskill Hotel in Austin, Texas.

On the first of December at six in the evening, The Driskill Hotel initiated their annual holiday celebrations beginning with the lighting of the tree and a double quartet of singers from Austin Opera. Positioned in the center of the marble floors and steep columns within the main lobby closest to the grand stairwell, a decorated tree is illuminated and glowing the entire month of December. The holiday tree is so substantial in size that the gold star on top nearly touches the stained glass dome of the ceiling.

Throughout the month of December, for nearly 130 years since it was built in 1886, The Driskill Hotel hosts annual time-honored traditions to celebrate the holiday season. Notably, The Driskill is the oldest operating hotel in Austin, Texas and the architecture is Romanesque in design. When you enter the hotel it’s like going back in time, or finding a magical hiding place in town, because there is something other worldly about the energy of the building. Yet you know you’re in Texas by all the lone stars, leather, cowhides and southern hospitality. Even horse carriages still wait outside to take guests and locals for a stroll through downtown. An artistic infusion of different time periods; there is no other structure in Austin quite like it. Blocks away from the Texas State Capitol, The Driskill is a Historic Landmark and its European structure carries a prominent, unique presence amongst modern day architecture in the downtown vicinity. This refined hotel is aesthetically beautiful and elegant, inside and out. However, every December as the holiday season arrives: The Driskill shines brighter than ever with its festive, colorful decorum and sparkling tealights. Even before entering the hotel, dozens of homemade gingerbread men can be seen dangling happily in the windows of 1886 Cafe & Bakery. The gingerbread men are fairly large in size, decorated with smiles of white icing, red candied buttons, green checkered stockings and eyes that seem to be made of chocolate.

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 In addition to the lovely holiday decorum on display the month of December, The Driskill will also feature holiday events on selected days and nights: seasonal music from a live string quartet, Afternoon Tea, an Afternoon with Santa, and Christmas Day in The Driskill Grill. Prices per event do vary. The Driskill Bar upstairs, which was recently named the best cocktail bar by The Austin Chronicle, hosts live music as well. Guests can escape the cold and warm up with snacks and a libation, or an apple cider, within the lounge area whilst enjoying the lyrics and melodies of various singers and songwriters. Don’t forget to try the mejdool dates wrapped in bacon!

Furthermore, on December 13th at 2:00 PM, Cookies for Caring is another holiday-related, charity event at The Driskill. “In collaboration with the Austin American-Statesman’s Season for Caring, The Driskill is hosting a holiday cookie swap. Guests can create their own holiday cookie collection and a portion of the proceeds will be donated to The Austin American-Statesman’s Season for Caring charity drive.” Cookie tins cost $25 per person and will be waiting for guests upon arrival to the event.

Seasonally decorated gourmet cookies can also be purchased at 1886 Cafe & Bakery, a premier restaurant within the hotel named after the year The Driskill came to life. “The Driskill Hotel opened on December 20, 1886 to great fanfare and applause from Austin’s 20,000 residents. Since that time, the ‘grande dame’ of Texas hotels has remained a magnificent gathering place for locals, Texans and others to celebrate the holidays and other special moments of their lives in Colonel Jesse Driskill’s splendid Romanesque masterpiece. We invite you to recapture a nostalgic memory from a holiday season long past and to create new memories for your family and friends during our holiday celebrations.”

The Driskill Hotel holds 189 guest rooms and suites. Guests may also admire The Maximilian Room, the Governor’s Boardroom, the Mezzanine and the Victorian Room. For more information about holiday events, hotel reservations, catering or The Driskill Bar and Grill: please visit their website at www.driskillhotel.com or call 512-439-1234.

Note: This article was originally published on Examiner.com in December 2015. 

Lonesome Dove brings the old west to the Warehouse district

nicolette mallow

Lonesome Dove in Austin, Texas. Photography by Nicolette Mallow.

Founded and operated by Chef Tim Love, Lonesome Dove is a fine dining Western flagship with an urban twist. Pinpointed on the corner of 5th and Colorado within the Warehouse District of Austin; guests are welcomed by an open space adorned with chandeliers, studded leather, soft suede, candle lights, black steel, pinewood and taxidermy animals. High above the hardwood floors, the ceilings are lofty with industrial rafters. Antlers are detected in mass abundance. The bar particularly emphasizes the antlers and they’re arranged in such a way it almost looks like barbwire made of bones. Scents of fresh genuine leather filter the room with a natural musk, adding to the rustic and familiar aromas of wood-fire cooking in Texas. Even Lonesome Dove’s logo looks like a cattle brand with the silhouette of a dove nesting between the initials of the restaurant: LD. Sterling silver utensils and cutlery are also engraved with stars, longhorns, horseshoes and other symbols that portray the Western and pioneering themes of times past.

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Opening its doors to Austin this summer, Lonesome Dove’s original location is further up north in The Stockyards of Fort Worth. Totaling seven culinary operations that span the Lone Star State, Chef Love also maintains five other restaurants and a catering business. In regard to Lonesome Dove Austin, while the owner, Chef Love, is seen from time-to-time at this establishment: Josh Neises is the Chef de Cuisine. These two chefs and their staff members have brought a refreshing and remarkable form of cuisine to Austin that every local or tourist should explore. Lonesome Dove’s menu is so extensive and rich in flavors that carnivorous guests would find great difficulty to ever grow tired of the food. (There are of course vegetarian options available, too.) According to the website, Chef has designed a menu influenced by all of the ingredients and cultures that have been a part of the West since the first adventure began on the Goodnight-Loving and Chisholm Trails — with an added level of modern sophistication.”

The name of this restaurant chain derives from the Pulitzer-Prize winning novel “Lonesome Dove” written by Larry McMurtry. The writer of this accredited novel is also from Texas, so it is most befitting that the state capital finally harbors and hosts this delightful culinary gem. Frankly the location of Lonesome Dove Austin is particularly interesting because of a building looming in the distance: The Frost Bank Tower. Frost Bank Tower is notorious for its architecture and there’s also a myth amongst locals that it was designed to look like a gigantic owl with enormous eyes glowing day or night. Therefore, to see Lonesome Dove and the Frost Bank Tower perched right behind its skyline is a picturesque addition to the artistic appeal of downtown Austin.

Without a doubt, Lonesome Dove has literally brought its game to the city. Various forms of meat can be found on the menu, entailing the following: Rattlesnake, rabbit, duck, kangaroo, elk, quail, wild boar, lamb, lobster, steaks, hamachi and more. Their lunch, dinner, dessert and drink menus are intricate and charismatic, just like McMurty’s novel. And the specialty cocktails are made with a loving bite of alcohol. Furthermore, everyday the Wild Game Fattine changes on the menu. These small, exclusive dishes can be found on the menu right above the first course plates. These daily-prepared meats are “a selection of cuts spit-roasted over open mesquite fire” and they are made with herbs, fruits and spices.

“I truly believe that Austin is one of the greatest cities in the country. The music, the architecture, the culture, and of course, the food, is out of this world. Austin feels like the perfect home for my style of cooking and opening a restaurant here has been a big dream of mine for a long time. I’m incredibly proud to be here alongside all the talented and creative chefs in the city and am excited to officially call Austin my second home.”
— Chef Tim Love

For more information regarding Lonesome Dove Austin or Chef Tim Love, please visit www.lonesomedoveaustin.com. To make a dinner reservation, call (512) 271-2474.

Note: This article was originally published on Examiner.com in August 2015