Thursday, October 9, 2008

El Sol y La Luna Relocating to Sixth Street

AUSTIN, Texas – October 9, 2008 – El Sol y La Luna is relocating to the northeast corner of Sixth and Red River streets, enhancing the stature of the East Sixth Street Historic Entertainment District as a world-class destination for music, fun and food.

The Interior Mexican restaurant, an Austin favorite since 1995, is set to debut its new Sixth Street home in spring 2009.

Owners Nilda de la Llata, Anna Salinas and Lynn Tiemann decided to move their restaurant from South Congress Avenue to capitalize on the growth opportunity and business diversity provided on Sixth Street.

El Sol y La Luna, which currently employs 25 people, has signed a long-term lease for 5,000 square feet at 600 E. Sixth St. This iconic business will join successful neighbors such as Alamo Drafthouse, B.D. Riley’s Irish Pub, Emo’s, Esther’s Follies, Maggie Mae’s, parkside restaurant and The Driskill Hotel.

“The relocation of El Sol y La Luna to Sixth and Red River represents another significant step forward in our efforts to build on and improve the Sixth Street brand, arguably Austin’s best-known brand,” Austin Mayor Will Wynn said. “With its unique food and Latin-flavored music, El Sol y La Luna will be a dynamic addition to an area known around the world for its bustling nightlife, live music and historic structures.”

El Sol y La Luna boasts a full menu of Interior Mexican cuisine; folk art by local and international artists; and live Latin American music. It received a 2008 Zagat Survey award and consistently has been named one of Hispanic Magazine’s Top 50 restaurants in the United States.

“Moving to this vibrant location in the Sixth Street district gives us more seating, a bigger kitchen, a big bar, and plenty of room for live music, dancing and artwork,” de la Llata said. “This space fits perfectly with our growth plan for El Sol y La Luna and the collective vision for Sixth Street.”

In 1995, de la Llata, Salinas and Tiemann invested their savings to convert a motel coffee shop on South Congress into what has become an Austin culinary and cultural staple. El Sol y La Luna played a key role in jump-starting redevelopment of Austin’s SoCo district.

Austin City Council Member Sheryl Cole said: “El Sol y La Luna will be an incredible draw for the thousands of conventioneers and visitors who come to Austin every year, particularly given the fact that it’s a short walk from the Austin Convention Center, the Hilton Austin and other Downtown Austin hotels. Furthermore, the arrival of El Sol y La Luna will add tremendously to the planned revitalization of the Waller Creek area. For Waller Creek to succeed, Sixth Street must succeed.”

Dick Clark Architecture, a downtown Austin firm that specializes in restaurants, will create the interior and exterior design—described as “cultural urban funky”—for the new location of El Sol y La Luna.

Nancy Burns, chair of the Downtown Austin Alliance, said: “El Sol y La Luna’s commitment to the Sixth Street district is a strong endorsement of the growing vitality of this area. El Sol y La Luna’s move demonstrates Sixth Street is a great place for everyone—and gives momentum to our efforts to make it an even better place. Thanks to the leadership of property owners Gary Wilson, Frank Hendrix, Jeff Brown and Vance Holmes, we are making our vision for Sixth Street a reality.”

Larry Craddock, chair of 6ixth Street Austin, said: “The addition of El Sol y La Luna further diversifies the Sixth Street district. Now, grandchildren and grandparents alike can enjoy El Sol y La Luna’s distinctive community-oriented blend of food, music and art. With El Sol y La Luna serving breakfast, lunch and dinner, the restaurant also helps accomplish one of the key goals of 6ixth Street Austin—to bolster daytime activity, making Sixth Street a true 18-hour destination.”

About El Sol y La Luna
El Sol y La Luna, the originator of “Sol Food,” is Austin’s laid-back home for Interior Mexican cuisine as well as live music, dancing and international folk art. El Sol y La Luna consistently has been named by Hispanic Magazine as one of the Top 50 restaurants in the United States. The business started in 1995 in the converted coffee shop of an Austin motel. For more information, visit

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Acevedo wants to put police cameras in key areas

Critics say such systems are too intrusive to public activity.

By Tony Plohetski

Wednesday, January 23, 2008
Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo wants to install security cameras in pedestrian-heavy and crime-ridden areas of the city that would allow officers to monitor activity from afar and conduct what some call "virtual patrols."

Acevedo said in an interview this week that he wants to start the project in the Sixth Street entertainment district in coming months and expand it to areas that include 12th and Chicon Streets in East Austin, Rundberg Lane and Lamar Boulevard in North Austin and along Montopolis Boulevard in Southeast Austin before the end of 2008.

He said he plans to soon begin exploring ways to pay for the project — possibly through federal grants — and working out logistics such as who would monitor the camera footage. Acevedo said one possibility includes hiring retired officers who would watch the videos 24 hours a day, seven days a week and who could call officers on the street when they see a crime in progress.

Other details, such as where the cameras would be positioned and how long the footage would be preserved, still need to be worked out, Acevedo said.

"I've been here about six months, and as I travel around the city, I have been approached by residents in high-crime areas who are not only asking, but who are really starting to demand, the use of technology," Acevedo said.

Such police cameras have swept the nation in recent years, especially in medium to large cities, where officials continue looking for new ways to cut crime. The trend began nationally in Acevedo's hometown of Los Angeles in 2004 but has since been introduced in other cities, including Dallas, which has a 40-camera system downtown. Police say the cameras reduce crime, bolster criminal cases with video evidence and serving as a "police force multiplier" by allowing one officer to be several places at once.

However, opponents have said the cameras constitute an unnecessary government surveillance and raise concerns of privacy rights. "You have to have some limits on government," said Jim Harrington, director of the Texas Civil Rights Project. "They have to respect people's right to privacy. I think there is too much potential that makes this dangerous and gives too much power to government."

Courts have upheld the legality of the police cameras. Critics nationwide also have argued that police have no conclusive evidence to show that video surveillance contributed to a crime decrease and that the cameras only pushed criminal activity a couple of blocks away, out of the camera's sight. Austin police and representatives from downtown business associations last year began discussing the possibility of adding cameras along Sixth Street and traveled to Dallas to study its system, which officials added in January 2007. Bill Brice, program director for security and maintenance for the Downtown Austin Alliance, said the visit intensified interest by his association in supporting the cameras. The organization also is considering helping to pay for the Sixth Street camera system, he said.

Dallas police received a grant to pay for its $850,000 system of 40 cameras, which are placed on utility poles or stoplights throughout downtown, including areas around the Dallas Convention Center and in the West End historical district. Deputy Police Chief Vincent Golbeck said crime dropped 12 percent from 2006 to 2007 in downtown. More striking, said Paul Lindenberger, director of the Downtown Dallas, an association of businesses, is that crime dropped 28 percent during the first two months of 2007, compared with the same period in 2006. However, Golbeck said that burglary of vehicles in parking garages appears to have increased.

The Downtown Dallas association is now working with private business owners to seek their help in paying for 40 more cameras throughout downtown.

Original story

Friday, January 11, 2008

Bob Wade Saxophone Sculpture approved by City Council

The Arts Commission unanimously voted to recommend to the City Council accepting the Saxophone as a gift through the Art in Public Places Program. The motion was pending fundraising by PSOA and specific site location through city staff. The City Council vote was 7-0.

The 60-foot sculpture, simply called “Giant Saxaphone”, was created by Austin artist Bob Wade, who has been creating Texas-themed artwork for years.

The sculpture is being donated by Houston resident Stuart Kensinger.