Thursday, December 8 2022

Going to the post office stinks, and no, that’s not an advertisement for But for residents of Hyde Park, a historic district in central Austin, it was once a walk in the park.

So when it was announced last May that the North Austin station, located at the corner of 43rd Street and the Speedway in Hyde Park, was closing, residents flipped their collective eyelids. Over a year later, they finally get an answer to what is taking over space at 4300 Speedway, which is currently an eyesore of a fenced-off construction site.

The site will contain two businesses: Tiny Grocer, which opened its first location in 2021 on South Congress Avenue, and a new community bookstore, First Light Books.

Steph Steele, owner of Tiny Grocer, calls the location “a dream project,” mentioning that she’s already met with developer Blake Thompson about another location, which didn’t seem suitable for a second store location. Texas monthly compared to a “darling museum gift shop” with edible wares.

The new location will offer expanded grocery options, with different items, as it will serve fewer tourists than South Congress.

It will also have a real kitchen; a wraparound bar that serves coffee, desserts, beer, wine, and soft serve ice cream; a deli with familiar offerings from Tiny Grocery; dinner service; and weekend brunch. The former post office loading dock will be transformed into indoor seating and the area where the trucks will stop will be an outdoor terrace.

“It’s been really fun to draw and play with what this space can be for the neighborhood,” Steele says. “I think [this space] gives us the opportunity to create community in a way that we would really like.”

The old Hyde Park Post Office site is under construction for at least another six months.

Chris O’Connell/MySA

The same goes for First Light Books, whose owner, Robin Bruce, tells MySA she opened a bookstore because she wanted to create the kind of place she and her husband seek in every city they travel to. make on their road trips: the best local bookstore in town.

“We really believe that when done right, they can become places that bring the community together and create spaces for ideas and connections and kind of old-fashioned conversation, that kind of small-town feel in a neighborhood that feels increasingly hard to find,” says Bruce.

This is the first bookstore for Bruce, who works for a local foundation and whose husband owns a publishing company. She says the idea for a “community bookstore” near her home comes from wanting to “meet the needs, wants, and interests of all the people who live in the space.”

Recent filings with the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulations show 3,200 square feet for Tiny Grocer and 2,530 for First Light Books, the owners of which confirmed details from TDLR.

First Light Books has an expected construction completion date of March 1, 2023, and while the filing indicates a late June 2023 completion for Tiny Grocer, Steele says they are aiming for a February 2023 opening.

All in all, the two businesses are happy to be paired up, especially after the area lost such a beloved location, post office or not.

“I’m so thrilled that the other business we know of so far is a bookstore. I love a bookstore,” Steele said. “I think it helps that they’re symbiotic, hopefully it’s the same kind of buyer on some level.”


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