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Is the dirty sixth living up to its name, or is rainy street just getting too crowded? Are the bars with live music too loud or do you need a change of scenery for your late night shenanigans? Many places around Austin are entertaining their customers differently than just cheap drinks and live bands.
Austin is the music capital of the world, so you can't talk about things to do in Austin without catching a live show. Many bars and restaurants let bands come in to play music for their customers. Usually, they are inside, but at Güero's on South Congress, they have an outdoor patio that boasts a small stage for artists of all genres come to entertain customers.
"We have a nice green space, in a large developing area, it's like a little oasis that nobody knows about," says Bette Lippincott, one of the owners of Güerro's.
No tickets need at Güero's. Anyone can come and see a show at the restaurant. Many customers go and start by getting drinks at the bar by the stage and listen to the music while they wait to go inside and eat.
"It's better than twiddling your thumbs while waiting for a table," says Lippincott.
Not all places have the space to have a live outdoor stage. Some places work with what they got to create experiences that their customers can enjoy. SPIN is a bar on 5th Street where customers can play ping pong and have drinks with friends.
Along with offering play throughout the week, SPIN offers social leagues on Monday, where teams compete for free drinks and a trophy, and players night on Fridays, where customers can compete against the resident pros with some fun challenges for prizes.
"When people talk about ping pong, they relate it to childhood. It's about community, a game that is easily accessible," says Khairi Mdnor, the chief brand officer for SPIN. "We are an offline social network. We do believe that we are creating a network around ping pong."
Austin is the live music capital of the world. Ping pong is the farthest thing from live music, but SPIN does collaborations with artists, chefs, and comedians to play ping pong with customers.
"It's such a democratic sport. No matter if your young or old, rich or poor, when you step behind the table you leave your politics at the door. Anyone can play," says Mdnor.
SPIN has only been open since the spring of 2018. They are still trying to grow within Austin. Everyone is welcome, from those who think they are good enough to take on the pros all the way to those who need help with their game and take a class from the pros.
"We want to welcome all Austinites into the SPIN world and have everyone pick up a paddle and embrace the movement," says Mdnor.
It's great to offer weekly programming for customers or have live music to entertain them though very few can do both well. Buzz Mill Coffee has weekly programs, including live music and comedy, but they also have a social club called The Lumbar Society, which is like Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts for adults.
"We built the Lumbar Society to help people disconnect and get outside. Its a community for those who love the outdoors and want to learn survival skills while supporting the local community," says Joe Lucky the culture guide for Buzz Mill.
Buzz Mill takes the idea of community to a serious level. They consider a two-mile radius around the coffee shop called their "Neighborwood." While their big flagship program is the Lumbar Society, they also offer other weekly programs to serve the needs of the whole community. The owner of Buzz Mill is the previous owner of Emo's and other bars around Austin and wanted to experiment with the community and figure out "How can a bar/coffee shop support the local community?"
"Our competition is Disney. Which is crazy, but we don't care if you go to Starbucks or Radio or any other place," says Lucky. "People are looking for their tribe, their community. A place to be when they're sad, so they aren't alone. That's why we are open twenty-four seven and why we offer the programs we offer."
Bars, restaurants, and coffee shops want to help their customers disconnect from their worlds and plug into their something different. They use their spaces to help customers connect with a community of like-minded people that they might have never knew existed. When these places go above, and beyond serving drinks, they allow customers to get away from the stress in their lives and take a few minutes to forget about their worries and their strife.
So whether it's supporting local artists at Güero's, playing ping pong at SPIN, or going on a nature walk with the Lumbar Society at Buzz Mill, it's about plugging into your local community when you walk into one of these places. It's a chance to get closer with your establish community of friends and family but also grow it too.
Bellow is a map filled with other places that do more than just serve food and drinks. If these three don't fit your cup of tea or you already go to one of them try going somewhere new. You might find your new hang out spot for your friends.