Bouldin Creek Cafe owner cultivates funky culture amid a changing city

Inside Bouldin Creek Cafe, almost every inch of the walls are plastered with posters and stickers, and the customers often reflect the same eclectic style with brightly dyed hair or colorful tattoos.

Owner Leslie Martin said that was exactly her goal when she opened Bouldin Creek Cafe in 2000.

“I wanted to do something organic and authentic, [not the same] kind of cookie-cutter restaurant that was going to make money,” Martin said.

Martin first opened Bouldin Creek Cafe in a “cute but decrepit little shack” on Elizabeth Street with the money Martin inherited from her grandmother’s death. By 2010, the original location could no longer house the large customer base it developed. Martin moved to the former Big G Tire on South First Street.

Martin said her main goal when she opened Bouldin Creek Cafe was to create a community space with food.

“I was seeing places close, and I was getting worried about [Austin’s] culture changing. [I thought]’No one [else] is gonna do it because it’s too scary. Someone has to do it and build the community themselves,’” Martin said.

Martin said the cafe sets itself apart with its plant-based menu and fair wage policy.

Bouldin Creek serves approachable dishes for those getting into a plant-based diet, like the award-winning Veggie Royale burger and margarita pasta with blistered balsamic grape tomatoes.

Although a devoted vegetarian herself, Martin prefers a more gentle approach to her restaurant.

“Even though we’re secretly wishing [people will eat less meat]we don’t want people to feel like we are judging them, because everyone is on their own path,” Martin said.

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