The Hideout Coffeehouse & Theater

Austin, Texas

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The Hideout Coffeehouse & Theater

Business travel is a very odd experience. I do not care for it. It is a tease. I have been to Austin several times for business for various durations, the longest being a recent 3 day and 3 night stint. In anticipation I concocted what all of this extra free time I had there would mean to my understanding of the city, how much I could infiltrate, consume, and digest. It was enticing. The schedule of the days even seemed to support some possible daylight peregrination. I was wrong. The first problem with business travel is the sense that activities must occur in groups. One often sees groups of conventioneers or business men out wandering the city, ribbing each other, and enjoying the flow of comp’d booze and possibly a trip to a local naked establishment. I look at them and picture myself sloughing off the group and inserting myself into the alleys and parks with a batard and a text. Although my colleagues do not submit to the same long-distance pleasures as the typical business traveler it would still take an elaborate lie to sneak away to seek out my own path, and even then I might bump into them strolling away from the AMLI development as I head from Halcyon down to the river to look at the trains coming over the water. So time is lost.

The Hideout Coffeehouse & Theater

I find moments after dinner that are trembling with exhaustion from a 15 hour day filled with tedious meetings and schlepping boxes and drawings around the city, and I force myself to stroll alone disinterestedly. In the mornings, in my sterile hotel room, through a night that seemed more like a slightly protracted nap on the bathroom floor of my office in a series of 3 days of work that feel like one day of work punctuated regularly with naps on the bathroom floor, I find it more difficult than usual to arise. I know the promise of a couple of local shops should draw me forth, as if the tongues of coffee fumes tap the windows of my hermetically sealed chamber like a vampire child longing to gain entrance. But I look lazily out from beneath my fortress of pillows at the sky above the Driskill and listen to the classical radio station for another hour. Even the thought of sitting in a coffeeshop sounds like work to me, it is part of the continuum of work embedded in travel.

The Hideout Coffeehouse & Theater

I finally rise, angry at myself, with about 1 hour to spare before meeting my colleagues for another day. I bolt out the door in case any are already in the breakfast room, and head straight for The Hideout, my only chance to have a good spell of coffee and reading without a significant investment of walking. It is in fact directly across from my hotel, facing Starbucks. It is a businesslike little shop. I sit in the window, fighting my impatience that the day move forward, attempt to calm myself enough to focus on my reading, and spend more time watching the day begin than surveying the interior of the shop. It becomes a cell in the continuum of bleary days, the rich red walls I see in my photographs, the warm bronze on the tables are nowhere to be found in my memories. I see laminate conference tables, fluorescent light, lay-in ceiling tiles, dry-erase boards, carpet, hell, the farthest spot from natural light that man can construct, a tunnel that leads from the airport in a temporal swirl that is tailored to each traveler’s itinerary, in this case just long enough and with enough loops to fill 3 days of continuous walking, or 3 days of being pulled continuously on a cart through windowless airless tombs. I want to apologize to The Hideout and give it back the warmth it clearly possesses, the charm and completeness, all that it gave to me and all that I pushed away in the confusion, the whole city shoved into a drawer in the stead of eternally flickering fluorescence.

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The Hideout Coffeehouse & Theater

617 Congress Ave
Austin, Texas 78701

One Response to “The Hideout Coffeehouse & Theater”

  1. j.h. trefry

    i know phe didnt know i was a contributor to a site that vehemently supports and delights in the many hundreds of independent coffeeshops around the country, how could he. i guess phe is just a dick to everyone except the homeless santa claus with 2 cellphones drinking a lonestar tallboy at 9am. after ordering my beverage and stating the size i desired, medium, phe rattled around a bit before asking me again what size i required. “um, regular?” i stated, not knowing what nomenclature out of the many this particular establishment utilised. “what? i dont know ‘regular’.” “ok, medium then, jesus christ.” you gavin-frederick-looking doofus, maybe the cold air on your bare midriff is making you irritable, but a quick google search shows that ‘regular’ is a widely accepted synonym for ‘medium.’ however, it was not so much that phe had never been to another place that put liquids in different sized cups as it was that he was distasteful of me perhaps having been to them. i got the sense that he felt me to be a business schmo who was too versed in the lingo of the corporate shops to wrench myself free and pay phim the martyr’s wage phe deserved.

    The Hideout Coffeehouse & Theater

    i dont like starbucks either bro! that is why i came here instead of going directly across the street. i dont know how you could treat anyone with that brand of disdain when the choice they have made is so preposterously evident. such is the paradox of the tragically hip. dont think i dont understand it bro. it is too bad for the rest of us that halcyon around the corner closed down. now every time i see that bowlcut through the window i will have to just go back to my room and make a cup in the autodrip machine stored in the wardrobe.

    addendum: apparently halcyon is only closed for 1 month. phew!!!

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