|If you haven't been to the Hyde Park Market, it's a beer nerd nirvana that -- dare I say? yes, because it's true -- surpasses the offerings at The Whip-In. They also sell great stuff like Kool Haus ice cream sandwiches and other local frozen treats, a global array of chocolate, and a variety of Middle Eastern fare. It's kind of the best store ever.
The folks who run the store are lovely, lovely people who work incredibly long hours. It's a family business, and it's not uncommon to see the couple who runs the place there at 8:00 a.m. when I go in for coffee and still on duty at 10:00 p.m. when I'm struck dumb from the sheer variety of beer choices in the coolers. They also once picked up my gas cap when I drove off without putting back on my gas tank, and remind me to by PowerBall tickets when the jackpot gets really high.
The flags are part of the fun -- entering the store is like parting the waters and wading through an Olympic opening ceremony. The mart actually closed briefly several years ago to change management, and when the current owners took over and turned it into an Austin treasure, the flags heralded the reopened business and expanded offerings.
Apparently none of that matters to the mean-spirited person who called code enforcement, claiming that the flags were "signs" for which the Flag Mart did not have a permit.
Well permit me to suggest that this anonymous caller get some new fucking problems to concern him or herself with. There are over 2,000 homeless kids in AISD, over 209,000 uninsured residents in Travis County, and over 17% of Austinites live below the poverty line. But forget all that, because some anonymous homeslice is mad that a local business is flying too many flags.
Might I humbly suggest that these are bigger issues facing our community than a mini-mart that likes to celebrate the flags of the world?
Thankfully, Austin City Council Member Mike Martinez heard about the Flag Mart's problems and has worked out a solution:
This fracas points to a larger problem with unclear city codes that can empower any neighborhood crank to strip a local business of its iconic and inclusive decorations that -- last time I checked -- weren't doing anyone any harm.
But what fate should await the anonymous complaint maker, who lacks the courage to unfurl his flag-hatred for all the world to see? Personally, I think a bunch of Flag Mart regulars should partake of some niche beer offerings and head over to his lawn to sing the national anthems of the nations whose flags were temporarily removed. Repeatedly. Clearly someone needs to learn an appreciation for global cultures.
Now the flags are soon to return, we can at least embrace the silver lining that came out in this discussion: Flag Mart is trying to add a bier garten! From Community Impact:
Meanwhile, Hooman is looking to add between 200-300 taps of beer and a beer garden at Hyde Park Market. Hooman has been meeting with local neighborhood groups about the expansion plan before filing paperwork with the city, he said.
"It's crucial that we are all in one boat and able to communicate so no one has feelings that they weren't involved," he said. "If it wasn't for [neighborhood residents], nothing would be here."
Count this neighbor in as someone who supports this expansion, and already looks forward to patronizing it when it opens -- hopefully, no flag haters allowed!