Driving north on Congress Bridge in Austin, circa 2013. There are barely any buildings on the skyline compared to today.

Moving on ain't so bad

I love a good adventure.

In 2012 my wife and I packed up our townhouse in the north Chicago 'burbs and took a two-day drive to central Texas. I had decided to start Bravery Media, and Austin was the place where, according to Google, anyway, all the young people were moving.

Austin’s been a good home. We’ve made so many friends, grown as people, and stretched our understanding of life. I learned to bake bread, make pizza, and appreciate wine. I went to countless concerts and have hosted more friends in our small spaces than anywhere else I've lived. I built a business from a few freelance clients to three full-time employees and work we can be proud of.

It has also been a place of challenge and heartbreak. We lost our pup here to kidney failure and weathered a rocky point in our marriage. There were slow business years and friendships that drifted away.

Transitions like these are often bittersweet, but after a decade, it’s time for the Goodmans to push on to the next adventure: Louisville, Kentucky.

Folks who have lived in Austin or visit frequently will tell you it’s a town of transition. When we first moved here, it felt like a vacation. No doubt that was partially due to coming from a hyper-stressful work situation to the land of work-life balance.

A beer van marked Bold Beer pulled up next to a low square building
An Austin Beerworks delivery van is parked next to what was about to open as Bufalina Pizza, circa 2013.

I remember working out of Capital Factory before it was officially open. We'd walk around downtown for lunch, dropping into taco trailers. Austin felt full of possibility, remarkably great food, and an energy we hadn't really experienced before. And I've been proud of this city, despite being in the middle of a giant state with inequitable politics and hateful people in power.

But one day we woke up out of the COVID pandemic and didn't recognize our city. The house across the street from us that couldn't sell for $620,000 four years prior had been bought for $1.2M by a family from Los Angeles and was back on the market for $1.5M. Our neighbors, primarily legacy Black families who had owned their property for years, were being forced out by these out-of-towners. The house we've rented for 8 years is, as Jessica puts it, returning to the earth. But the rent keeps going up and at this rate it doesn't make sense to try and buy property here.

If you follow me on Instagram you've seen our latest experiences in dining around town. We try to be the best guests when going out because hospitality is a hard job and the best experiences are cooperative. But when you walk out of a James Beard-nominated restaurant in Austin, TX with a $700 bill for four people, that meal had better be one of the best in town. And it wasn't.

Chris Simpson of the band Mineral holding his telecaster and singing into the mic at The Mohawk.
I never thought I'd get to see Mineral live and then I saw them six times in five months. Even better, Chris Simpson lived in our neighborhood.

The Silicon Valley-ization of Austin has led to lower standards. Some of our favorite places have closed, not because they weren't doing well, but simply to cash out on the ludicrous value of the properties they bought in 2009. But when new spots open up, they're all about influencer culture with no substance. It's sad. All that promise and potential ended up in a capitalistic-consumption wonderland of mediocrity.

That's not to say it's all bad.

This is not a love letter

Most of what I'll miss about Austin are the people and our favorite places. I'll miss Lazarus Brewing, Bufalina Pizza, Nickel City, and Greater Goods Coffee. I'll miss Trent & Liz, Marcus & Faith, Steven and Rania and all the Bufalina staff. I'll miss Chuck, Eric, Bryce, and the Austin Tottenham Hotspur Supporters Club — but I won't miss Mister Tramps, the bar we've gathered at for the past 10 years. I'll miss talking with Matty B about his next pop-up idea and critiquing the new F&B places in town. I'll miss Dan and Amanda and Travis. I'll miss BOGO burger night and 2nd Tuesday steak night at Nickel.

I'll especially miss all of the Lazarus staff. They've become close friends and I've spent so many hours learning about them and feeling their incredible hospitality. Austin has some gems and those people are the best of the best.

This is obviously not a love letter to Austin. We've had a complicated relationship the past few years, and I'm exhausted trying to keep up financially with the market here. But ten years is a long time to be committed to a place. Second only to where I grew up, Austin is where I've spent the most of my time on earth.

And I'm ready to say, "so long for now."

A sign on the side of a Louisville building reads Whiskey Got Me Into Trouble
Trouble Bar is the whiskey bar of our dreams in Shelby Park, Louisville.

The next chapter

Louisville, Kentucky today feels like Austin in 2012. Maybe a little before 2012. In Austin, to do anything, you need a couple of investors and a few million dollars in capital. Louisville is not that. The pace is slower. There's a lot of whiskey. The food scene sleeps on the national stage but gets its fair share of James Beard nods. The music is chef's kiss if you're into bluegrass, but there's also a cool metal, emo, and indie scene.

It's a college town with at least eight institutions in town and several more nearby in Indiana.

We're lucky to be moving with close friends from Austin, and this move is the easiest ever because we're moving into their furnished house (they have another one) for the first bit while we get our bearings. I'm excited for a new adventure. I'm excited to get on top of the debt we've built up during slow business years. And I cannot wait to dig into the local hospitality scene.

By the way, we have a guest room. If you're passing through Louisville, gimme a shout.