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Photo courtesy of Speak As One

Mental health apps are so alluring, but once you’ve recorded your two-week streak and things are feeling a little more organized, it can be hard to keep going. It’s hard enough to keep up with journaling and a great bedtime routine, and many lovely self-help tools also lose their effectiveness when the novelty wears off.

A smart company might harness that novelty as its hook — and an easily distracted self-helper won’t fall off the wagon. Like many other companies in the mental health space, Speak As One will work on a subscription model, but this one won’t languish, unused on a credit card statement. The service, which plans to launch in Austin during SXSW in spring 2023, delivers boxes of tangible mental health tools, inspiration, games, and even sensory objects that act as a monthly nudge to try something new, and curiosity takes care of the rest.

A sample box included:

  • Stress balls with short inspirational phrases by MindPanda
  • An Emotional First Aid Kit containing advice for situations as they come up, like sleeplessness and feelings of inadequacy
  • Tiny colorful putties at different resistances by Flint Rehab
  • A notebook, and two books: Athlete Mental Health Playbook and 1000 Unique Questions About Me
  • Other small items

It’s more than packing and shipping out a few toys each month. The boxes are curated with help from a licensed therapist, who leaves a personal note along with tips on how to use the items inside and additional resources. There is one type of box right now that aims to “reduce anxiety, increase mindfulness, and promote peace and balance,” but for further customization (for $10 more), the team is working on boxes tailored to first responders, veterans, athletes, and people in “recovery.”

Speak As One emphasizes community stories in its branding outside the delivery box, and uses inspiration from “influencers” (less content creators and more so people who can embody a relatable story) to build the specialty boxes. The company’s YouTube channel shares dozens of interviews with founder Julie Korioth, a former board member for Austin’s SIMS Foundation, a well-respected mental health resource for members of the local music industry.

“With hundreds of millions of people struggling with mental health, and COVID making the issue much worse, society continues to ostracize those who openly discuss mental health issues,” said Korioth in a release. “I founded this company so we can change the way the world sees, discusses, and supports mental health. Our goal is to promote empathy, connectedness, acceptance, and thoughtfulness with an innovative toolkit that caters to specific needs."

In addition to offering a nudge, these boxes could make great care packages for a loved one who is feeling introspective or going through a significant life event. It is possible to buy gift boxes, if presentation is your thing, but it’d be just as easy to repackage a box that comes before the receiver ready to appreciate the items at home.

The cost of one box is manageable at $49.99 (especially considering the retail value of products included, which the sample box far exceed), but for many subscribers this adds up fast. Luckily, there is no pressure to continue a lengthy commitment — subscriptions last between one and six months, so users have plenty of time to reconsider and sit with the items that have already been delivered.

"The goal is to meet our audience at any phase of their mental health journey,” said Korioth. “We’re creating change and a global life-long support system for children and adults dealing with mental health challenges. We simultaneously highlight businesses, the tech community, athletes, and artists doing wonderful work in this space.”

The company plans to partner with corporations to connect with employees and provide boxes to individuals the company chooses, and will turn some content into session albums with sales proceeds dedicated to mental health research.

More information and links to preorder are available at speakasone.com.

Courtesy of SA Hope Center

San Antonio nonprofit breaks ground on new West Side campus

Nonprofit news

The SA Hope Center is expanding to the West Side of the city with a brand new campus. The aim of the new campus is to continue the SA Hope Center's mission to assist families experiencing major crises like poverty.

The new campus will be an expansion at the original SA Hope Center location on N. General McMullen Drive. Thanks to generous donors like H-E-B and Valero, the SA Hope Center will be able to provide a new assortment of services at the exanded campus to help more families in need of assistance.

SA Hope Center CEO Megan Legacy summed up the non-profit organization's excitement over the campus expansion in an official statement, explaining that, "This campus is a place of hope and new beginnings for the people of San Antonio who need assistance, guidance, and compassionate support. This expansion will allow the SA Hope Center team to help families overcome poverty and thrive. We are so grateful to all of our major donors who are making this possible."

So what services will the SA Hope Center be able to provide at the new campus expansion? According to a release, the expanded services will include mental health services, drop-in childcare, and a renovated family assistance center that will provide healthy, nutritious food for families, clothing assistance, and expanded case management offices.

The SA Hope Center's campus expansion will also give the nonprofit the opportunity to provide more immediate and long-term services for San Antonio families in need.

For those unfamiliar with other services the SA Hope Center typically provides, here's a general overview: They offer financial literacy classes, workforce development, parenting education, spiritual services for those who are interested, and many other supportive services. The aim of the nonprofit's services as always is to help families develop enough financial stability and long term monetary planning to evade poverty and live happy, fulfilled healthy lives.

For more information on the SA Hope Center's services and update information on the opening, visit SAHopecenter.org.

Photo by Angiola Harry on Unsplash

San Antonio restaurant group paints the town pink for breast cancer awareness

Drink Pink

This Breast Cancer Awareness Month, one local company is painting the town pink for the first time in what it hopes will be an annual tradition. FreeRange Concepts — parent company to five Texas restaurants, including The Rustic — is leveraging its three San Antonio businesses in Pink Out Week to raise money for breast cancer patients.

From October 16-23, The Rustic, Bowl & Barrel, and The General Public are hosting fundraising events benefiting the Pink Fund, each with a different public draw. The Rustic will serve frosés (frozen rosé wine), setting aside a dollar per drink. Bowl & Barrel and the General Public are running similar programs, swapping the frozen drink for a cosmopolitan with Tito’s Handmade Vodka.

All three restaurants will accept donations in-person or through a QR code; donors at The Rustic will be entered to win prizes like entrance into local events and gift cards, and donors at the other two participating restaurants are invited to sign cards that will be hung on the walls.

The Pink Fund’s main goal is providing financial assistance to patients, with more than half of that aid going to housing costs, and significant portions going toward transportation and utilities. Since 2008, it has awarded more than 3,200 grants. It has renamed October Breast Cancer Unawareness Month, to reflect the disparity of awareness of the disease, versus the financial strain on seemingly normal life.

“We couldn’t be prouder to partner with The Pink Fund during Breast Cancer Awareness Month,” said FreeRange Concepts cofounder Kyle Noonan. “At FreeRange Concepts, we’re dedicated to being an active member of the communities that we are blessed to serve, and we have a lot of fun activations and events planned to make Pink Out Week an amazing experience. We hope to see everyone stop by each of our brands.”

The Rustic is also throwing a party on October 22 to celebrate the end of the fundraising week, with live music and a themed photo booth. There is no event flier out yet, but The Rustic’s performance schedule shows country singer-songwriter Lacy Brinson playing a free show from 12:30-2 pm, and the iconic, genre-shaping folk rock duo Indigo Girls from 9:30-11 pm ($32). Either way, it’s a good day to hang out at The Rustic.

Gruene Music and Wine Fest brings more good times to a historic venue

Going Gruene

Wine, music, and super-old dance halls are the best offerings of Central Texas. Texas’ oldest dance hall, in fact, Gruene Hall, is bringing both wine and music together at the 36th Annual Gruene Music and Wine Fest from October 6 to 9. In collaboration with KNBT 92.1 FM Radio, ticket and drinks sales from the four-day event in New Braunfels will benefit United Way of Comal County, which in 2021 received nearly $148,000 from the event.

Other festival costs are covered by sponsors (JP Morgan Chase & Co., New Braunfels Herald-Zeitung, and Texas Hill Country Wineries, to name a few). Visitors can participate in wine and beer tastings in between watching live shows at Gruene Hall and The Grapevine wine bar, another one of the event’s sponsors.

On Thursday, October 6, attendees will gather in the Grapevine Garden for tastings from Llano Estacado Winery, Becker Vineyards, Hilmy Cellars, and an unnamed brewery. Admission is free, and tastings are managed with drink tickets in increments of $5 per drink, which decrease to $4 when purchased in larger quantities. There will be live music and giveaways, followed by a ticketed performance from Josh Abbott Band at Gruene Hall.

Friday’s events are already sold out, but could inspire an itinerary for another day in Gruene, visiting the historic Gristmill River Restaurant right next to the dance hall. One of the draws to this day’s tickets was a “Great Guitar Auction,” followed by a performance from Pat Green.

Back at the Grapevine Garden on Saturday from noon to 6 pm, is a new event that mirrors Thursday’s tasting, this time with six wineries: Lost Draw Cellars, Fiesta Winery, Texas SouthWind Vineyard & Winery, Texoir, Los Pinos Ranch Vineyards, and Messina Hof. Josh Baca & The Hot Tamales and The Johnathans will play visitors through the six-hour tasting and into a ticketed concert by the Lost Gonzo Band, founded in 1972.

Sunday unplugs for a string of acoustic performances from 2 pm to 9 pm at Gruene Hall. The lineup hasn’t been announced yet, but Mattson Rainier of KNBT will emcee the all-day, 21-and-up show. The event ($40) promises “some of Texas’ best songwriters.”

When the festival was in its nascent years, it only filled one day, raising $450 for the United Way. The gigantic non-profit conglomerate claims a mission to “advance the common good,” which in Comal County includes support to several kids’, medical, and Christian groups. It also supports multiple food banks and resources for victims of domestic violence.

In general, tasting events are free and tickets can be pre-purchased online, or at the event. Concert tickets must be purchased ahead of time and may sell out. For more information and purchase links, visit gruenemusicandwinefest.org.

Photo courtesy of Sweetgreen

7 things to know in San Antonio food right now: Cult-favorite salad chain sprouts in the Quarry

News you can eat

Editor’s note: We get it. It can be difficult to keep up with the fast pace of San Antonio’s restaurant and bar scene. We have you covered with our regular roundup of essential food news.

Openings and closings

Vibey Los Angeles-based salad chain Sweetgreen is digging into the Quarry. In late August, the fast-casual eatery filed its intention to spruce up the former Max’s Wine Dive space at 340 East Basse Rd., #101. Known for its tech prowess and collaborations with celebrity chefs like David Chang, Sweetgreen has rapidly broadened its footprint since 2007. Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation project details say the spot will be ready for inspection in April 2023. Company reps did not return a request for comment.

San Antonio’s most lauded barbecue joint is firing up a new location. Another filing with TDLR reveals plans for a 2M Smokehouse at 1303 Lorenzo St. in Castroville. The restaurant, led by two-time James Beard-nominated pitmaster Esaul Ramos, will redevelop the former site of Dan’s Meat Market with a new kitchen addition, pit room, bakery, and outdoor seating. According to records, construction is expected to wrap up on June 30.

Move over, Baldwins. A less controversial quartet of siblings moved into the Omni La Mansión del Rio. Helmed by chef Andres Farias, Four Brothers began serving River Walk revelers on August 15. Replacing former onsite restaurant Las Canarias, the eatery finesses South Texas cuisine with Latin and French influences. Mains include a basil-crusted branzino, St. Louis-style ribs, and showy dry-aged tomahawk with confit potatoes and chimichurri.

Millennials looking to see the real-time financial impact of their latte habit can flock to San Antonio’s first Capital One Café as of August 18. The hustle culture hub, open to the general public, offers self-service banking, coworking space, and conference rooms. Capitol One credit and debit customers receive a half-off discount on drinks at the La Cantera shop.

Plant-based pizzeria Verve Pie is saying “thank you, next” to Cibolo. In an August 25 Instagram post, the restaurant explained it is looking to relocate to San Antonio. Staff shortages have made operations difficult for the last two months. Still, the restaurant wanted to hang on until existing employees could seek re-employment. A location within Alamo City limits will be closer to its customer base.

Other news and notes

Best Quality Daughter is taking a stand for reproductive rights. On September 11, the Pearl eatery will host a benefit dinner pairing chef Jennifer Hwa Dobbertin with Iron Chef personality Mason Hereford of New Orleans’ Turkey and the Wolf. Tickets for Good Trouble in Little China are $150 and will benefit Planned Parenthood South Texas and Lift Louisiana.

The Squeezebox is bringing a little sizzle to the St. Mary’s Strip with its inaugural Fajita Lounge Showdown on September 4. During the event, local chefs Kenny Loo of Golden Kirin Restaurant, Sergio Flores of La Tortuga Cocina Latina, Eddie Barrera of Sijang Korean Corn Dogs, Rory Torres of Crispy Bao Gang, and Steve Lopez will battle for a $500 prize. The $10 cover includes all-you-can-eat tacos and entertainment from The Texases.

Photo by Ruthie W/Yelp [https://www.yelp.com/biz_photos/the-grill-at-leon-springs-san-antonio?select=iczuhNohOKeKQVWwehmWjQ]

Yelp announces $100,000 in grants to boost local businesses and Texans

Yelp Help

It seems like every calendar year is named “challenging” for local businesses, and never without reason. Businesses need constant maintenance to stay ahead of the community’s needs, and Yelp, the consumer ratings company, wants to help beyond its usual search streamlining.

With help from celebrity designer and born-and-raised Texan Bobby Berk, Yelp is making sure Texans have a bit of a windfall. That may be families in need of home repairs or businesses working hard to keep up; either are eligible for a grant on the second annual Make It Happen Day on August 26.

The fund attributes 2022’s challenge to severe weather, which is what launched the inaugural campaign in 2021 after Winter Storm Uri caused widespread physical damage on top of the inertia of the pandemic. While each ridiculously hot day this summer brought the threat of a power grid collapse, Texas was able to stay on its feet, and was left instead with severe drought. Houston wasn’t so lucky in September, 2021, with Category 1 hurricane Tropical Storm Nicholas.

The fund will be split between 50 Texans receiving $1,000 for home improvements using professionals on Yelp, and five local businesses receiving $10,000 each, making a $100,000 grant in total. Individuals can enter by using Yelp’s Request a Quote feature, which matches them with professionals in the area, and submitting that quote on August 26.

The businesses are already chosen, including The Grill at Leon Springs in San Antonio. The other three businesses receiving $10,000 grants are Mico’s Hot Chicken in Houston, Humble: Simply Good Pies in Dallas, Texas French Bread in Austin, and Ambur Fire in Round Rock.

The inaugural round of funding went to five businesses, including San Antonio's beloved Comfort Cafe.

In 2021, Yelp partnered with Grace and Frankie actress and part-time Austinite Brooklyn Decker, who calls herself a “home decor fanatic” and helped spread the news. Bobby Berk, the home renovator of Queer Eye (and the subject of lots of memes about carrying your team), is taking over the spokesperson role in 2022.

To enter to win a $1,000 “Make It Happen Day” grant, search on yelp.com for a home services business you may be interested in hiring. Under each listing, there may be a button that says “Request a Quote.” Submit the quote on the giveaway site on August 26, 2022.

The Grill at Leon Springs in San Antonio is rebuilding after a large fire destroyed the facade.

Photo by Ruthie W/Yelp [https://www.yelp.com/biz_photos/the-grill-at-leon-springs-san-antonio?select=iczuhNohOKeKQVWwehmWjQ]
The Grill at Leon Springs in San Antonio is rebuilding after a large fire destroyed the facade.
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CultureMap Emails are Awesome

San Antonio suburb among the richest places in Texas for 2023, plus more top stories

Hot Headlines

Editor’s note: It’s that time again — time to check in with our top stories. Here are five articles that captured our collective attention over the past seven days.

1. San Antonio suburb cashes in among the richest places in Texas for 2023. Alamo Heights has been renamed the third richest place in Texas for 2023 in a recent study.

2. San Antonio home sales slowed in December 2022, report finds. San Antonio sold 36,477 homes all year, a 10 percent decrease from 2021.

3. Here are the top 5 things to do in San Antonio this weekend. Nina Simone, Pink Floyd, the Beatles and more music-centered events made our roundup of the best things to do in Alamo City this weekend.

4. San Antonio Home & Garden Show returns with HGTV star. Ati Williams will headline the San Antonio Spring Home & Garden Show, which takes place February 24-26.

5. H-E-B opens first location in growing San Antonio suburb. The state-of-the-art facility offers 110,000 square feet of floor space, providing everything from cat food to charcuterie.


Popular Pearl brunch spot remixes with new weekend DJ nights

OONCE OONCE OONCE

Though Full Goods Diner has barely been open for half a year, it has already become a San Antonio staple for working weekday lunches and lingering Sunday Fundays. Now the Pearl eatery is looking to be a hot spot after dark.

Via release, the popular local haunt just announced a new limited-time music series, Full Goods at Night. Starting on February 2, Full Goods Diner will open select evenings throughout the month.

The Full Goods at Night series will feature popular local San Antonio DJs, including El West Side Sound, Hector Gallego, DJ Plata, Steven Lee Moya, and Cami Gee. Guests can enjoy live sets while indulging in a specially curated food and drink offerings.

The menu will include some of Full Goods Diner's best—selling items, such as French toast sticks, barbacoa waffle fries, and jumbo cheesy tots. Libations like the Attaboy Negroni, Royal Bermuda Daiquiri, Pink G&T, and more will fuel the festivities.

In addition to enjoying moonlight brunch, guests can relish some prime people-watching. And, of course, the restaurant is just a hop from other nightlife destinations like Pink Hill, 3 Star Bar, and Summer Camp Bar, making it the perfect party starter.

The series runs every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday from February 2-25, 6-10 pm. The complete DJ schedule is listed below.

February 2 — El West Side Sound·
February 3 — Hector Gallego
February 4— DJ Plata
February 9 — El West Side Sound
February 10 — Steven Lee Moya
February 11 — Cami Gee
February 16 — El West Side Sound
February 17 — Steven Lee Moya
February 18 — Hector Gallego
February 23 — El West Side Sound
February 24— Steven Lee Moya
February 25 — DJ Plata

4 San Antonio culinary pioneers win $21K from the Texas Food & Wine Alliance

CULINARY INNOVATION

Texas’ skyrocketing culinary scene is about to get a huge boost. The Texas Food & Wine Alliance’s grant program has awarded $107,500 to 19 culinary innovators around the state. This marks the Alliance’s 11th year providing funding to support culinary projects contributing to local communities.

The award winners were announced in a ceremony at Austin's Holdsworth Center on January 21. A private panel of distinguished culinary experts chose the winners out of 40 grant applications this year. Nine winners hail from Austin, three from Dallas-Fort Worth, three from Houston, and four from San Antonio. The awards range from $1,500 to $10,000, with a special $25,000 grant investment from Austin favorite Tito’s Handmade Vodka in honor of the company’s 25th anniversary. Grant funding will support chefs, farms, and culinary education groups, among others.

Out of the four San Antonio area winners, Talking Tree Farm received the most from the grant program, $6,250 to purchase shipping containers for storage and to buy a solar-powered cold room for their harvests. John Marshall High School’s culinary arts program will use their $5,000 grant to establish a morning café. Agricultural project Habitable Spaces and pasture-raised chicken farm Cielito Lindo Farm also won $5,000 each to purchase equipment or build infrastructure to further their endeavors in the culinary space.

Austin-area winners received the most funding from the grant program, totalling $53,750, while San Antonio winners received $21,250 in total. Dallas/Fort Worth winners were awarded $19,750, and the three Houston recipients won $12,750. All of the 2022 winners reflect just how diverse the state's trailblazing culinary scene continues to expand.

“All of this year’s funded projects will further enrich the state through innovation and giveback,” said Erika White, executive director of the Alliance. “We’re extremely grateful to each of the Texas communities, our sponsors and their support in allowing us to reward these mold-breaking projects.”

In Austin, organic farm Trosi Farms was awarded the most funding ($10,000), which will help construct a germination shed for more stable plant start production. Locavore pioneer Boggy Creek Farm won $7,500 in grants to provide ADA-compliant accessibility to their new climate-controlled Tomato House, while Texas’ first organic feed mill, Coyote Creek Organic Feed Mill & Farm, received $6,250 to help purchase a building to be used as a store for the local community.

The six other Austin area grant recipients, each winning $5,000, include Vista Farms at Vista Brewing, Jamaican family business Tierra Todun ATX, coffee roasters Rising Tide Roast Collaborative, culinary educator Chef Pascal Simon from Bake Austin, East Austin food truck Community Vegan, and Latinx pastry project Comadre Panaderia (who also just earned a James Beard nomination). All winners will be able to use their grants to improve efficiency and expand their businesses, or in Chef Pascal's case, further research and development for her upcoming cookbook for Gen-Z young adults.

After starting the program in Austin, grant co-chair and TFWA past president Cathy Cochran-Lewis says it was the Alliance’s dream to expand the grant statewide.

“We’re so humbled and thrilled to now not only support worthwhile projects across Texas but also to give more than a half million dollars in funding over the last decade to help dreams come true,” she says. “This is a tribute to the culinary talent and the community mindset we are lucky to have in our state.”

The winners in the Dallas-Fort Worth and Houston areas include:

For this year's Honorable Mention, the Alliance chose San Antonio eatery Tacos Cucuy, who will soon open a brick-and-mortar space with an expanded menu. Tacos Cucuy are currently looking for support to develop a Tex-Mex charcuterie program called La Cura Carnes Especiales.

More information about the 2022 grants and its recipients can be found on texasfoodandwinealliance.org.