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State of Austin Restaurants, Whataburger’s Mobile App, and More A.M. Intel

The latest 12 restaurant tidbits in Austin served right now

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Opie's BBQ
Opie’s Barbecue
Greg W./Yelp
Nadia Chaudhury is the editor of Eater Austin covering food and pop culture, as well as a photographer, writer, and frequent panel moderator and podcast guest.

Edible Austin writer Kristi Willis investigated the tough state of Austin restaurants today, where closures are happening all the time and even big restaurants don't make it. It’s all due to a combination of several factors, including increasing rent and higher cost of labor. There are more restaurants still opening or announced every day,, which means the pool of employees are stretched thin and customers are being pulled in every direction.

— Pastry chef Kendall Melton is joining jam maker Confituras’ kitchen. She left Odd Duck earlier this summer. She’ll have a hand in creating baked goods and the such for the upcoming brick and mortar on South Lamar, which is now projected to open early next year.

— Whataburger makes it that much easier to buy burgers and honey biscuits by releasing a mobile app this week, which allows customers to pay with the program by preloading a credit or debit card, as well as a rewards program with free food. The burger chain is working on mobile ordering, slated to be available in late 2017.

— There are still tickets available for Alamo Drafthouse’s epic 9+ hour Lord of the Rings trilogy feature, with a giant six-course meal throughout the day.

— As part of Austin Monthly’s food-centric issue, the magazine took a look inside the refrigerators of some of the city's best chefs. Uchi's Tyson Cole's one is full of snacks and lunches for his children, and he keeps some black lime from Uchiko on hand. Ramen Tatsu-ya's Tatsu Aikawa, whose kitchen is used for experimental dishes, keeps a bunch of condiments, misos, uni, and koji in his refrigerator. Iliana de la Vega of El Naranjo keeps it strange with grasshoppers and red agave worms.

— Relatedly, Austin Monthly also broke down the necessary steps of opening an Austin restaurant, from picking an idea, hammering out a budget, locations, getting help and advice from others, and the long permitting process. The Texas Restaurant Association says a restaurant needs an average of $1.24 million in its first year to survive.

— Comedian Marc Maron shares his love for Opie's Barbecue out in the Hill Country.

— Austin’s favorite cookie delivery company Tiff’s Treats received $11 million in funding yesterday.

— People paid tribute to Whataburger with Wonder Woman mash-up costumes: Whata Woman.

— Construction on bar and food spot The Barn began over the summer in Sunset Valley. Owners Dennis and Anita Dunn originally wanted to open a curling center with a wine and beer hall back in 2011, but that plan fell through. Then they used the address for a food trailer park in 2014, but the city sued the couple over the lack of a watershed permit. Now it seems like everything is squared away.

— Dirty Sixth spot Thirsty Nickel and Chicago Cubs bar Thirsty Nickel is keeping busy during the World Series.

Houston Chronicle food editor Greg Morago described Austin’s barbecue scene as "pretty much saturated and everyone's competing for the same slice of the business."