YES, Austin, and La Tazza Magica

March 16, 2015

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Austin, Texas has been my home for 27 years. All of my books are set here. It’s a liberal city in a conservative state. Imagine if someone took San Francisco and dropped it into the middle of Oklahoma. That’s Austin.

I wrote my first two books in a comfortable chair at home, but when it came time to write The Eskimo Slugger, I tried out a few coffee shops in my neighborhood. My favorite was La Tazza Fresca, which is Italian for “the fresh cup.” 

Most of YES is set in a fictional Austin coffee shop called La Tazza Magica, but it’s inspired by the real La Tazza a few blocks from my house. Here’s another excerpt with some pictures.

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IAN SCANNED THE room and thought about the day five years earlier when he bought the building that would become La Tazza Magica.

Located north of the UT campus on one of Austin’s main thoroughfares, the former thrift shop proved to be the perfect size for a European-inspired café. With its vaulted twenty-foot tin ceiling and expansive windows, Ian transformed the space into a haven for students, writers, and the occasional chess player. In one corner, he set up a small living room with two identical black sofas facing each other and a red Queen-Anne-style coffee table in between. In the opposite corner, he installed a dessert case and wooden bar, for an old-world pub feeling. A fifteen-foot wine rack stood like a tower behind the bar, and Ian suspended another rack from the ceiling for glasses and beer mugs.

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He filled the central seating area with a variety of tables, both large and small, some regular height and others of the taller bistro style but all made of dark wood. He painted the plaster walls a deep mahogany and trimmed the windowpanes in black. He updated the electrical system and tripled the number of outlets, in order to accommodate laptop and phone chargers. He found a vintage corner bookcase at an antique fair and stocked it with classic literature and board games like Monopoly, Life, Risk, and Trivial Pursuit. He hung paintings of Italian cafés on the slivers of wall between the windows and surrounded the building with a U-shaped stone patio for outdoor seating.

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For food, Ian designed a simple menu of sandwiches and salads, with an accent on seasonal, fresh, and local. He served wine, beer, and the best espresso in town. He named the place after his favorite café in Florence, La Tazza Fresca, but changed the adjective. Most nights he had a packed house, and at peak times, Ian would introduce strangers to each other and encourage them to share a table. He posted his prime directive on a sign above the east door:

Buy something

Stay as long as you want

Don’t be a dick

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The barista on duty always had the final say over music selection, but Ian encouraged an eclectic and low-key atmosphere. During job interviews he grilled potential candidates about their musical tastes, so as not to hire a Belieber or anyone with a Wagner obsession. What he ended up with surprised him—anything from Johnny Cash to Billie Holiday to Justin Timberlake to Mozart to the Carpenters to this new band called Dime Box.

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7 Responses to “YES, Austin, and La Tazza Magica”

  1. Antonia says:

    Thanks for sharing the excerpt and the pictures!

  2. Brad Boney says:

    Thanks for helping me celebrate today, Antonia. :)

  3. Angela says:

    Sounds like a coffe shop i like visiting.
    Love the sign above the east door :)

  4. Brad Boney says:

    Haha. Me too, Angela. I thought up the sign because people in coffee shops can be kind of rude sometimes. :)

  5. Denise dechene says:

    My dream is to open a cafe/bookstore/library. We’d serve coffee and sandwiches and stay open late. People would be able to sit in comfy chairs and couches and drink their coffee and read. They can buy a book or there would be a lending library type thing.

  6. Brad Boney says:

    I love that idea, Denise. It sounds like a place I used to frequent when I lived in Washington, DC, but they didn’t have a lending library.

    http://www.kramers.com/index.html

  7. Yvonne says:

    Looks like a nice place to have a coffee.

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