A brewery toasting to the 806, a bookstore writing the next chapter for local authors and readers, and hand-crafted culinary creations with a down-under twist are transforming downtown Lubbock.
The name Nashwell is a creative combination, much like this husband-and-wife duo. With business pursuits including art, solar power, and coworking spaces, their Australian bakery - Nashwell Cafe - is the icing on their entrepreneurial cake.
An avid baker with an eye for style, Angela Nash-Blackwell first gained recognition as the Pastry Chef at La Sirena, where her chocolate chili tart remains a house favorite. Her booth drew crowds at the Downtown Farmers Market and her creative confections were soon featured at Burklee Hill Vineyards and The West Table Kitchen and Bar.
“It was a natural, gradual process, with people asking me to make cakes for special occasions, this or that,” explained Nash-Blackwell. “We found the building by accident, fell in love with the space and opened the doors in November of 2021.”
The idea of being part of the historic community resonated with Nash-Blackwell. There are abundant opportunities to collaborate and support. The café funds art supplies for East Lubbock Art House and she especially appreciates the downtown population with people from all walks of life, of all ages, and from all parts of town.
“I liked the thought of starting with a rustic history and bringing a space back to life,” explained Nash-Blackwell. “Downtown businesses are unique, inspired, and independently owned. I appreciate the collaborative culture and the diversity of the people,” she added. “I’ve served three generations at one table. We often see trades folks dropping by for a quick sausage roll for lunch, while other guests linger over a hand-made quiche with an Australian soft drink or a lemon-lime cordial.”
Drawing this diverse crowd is the café menu which runs the gamut from sweet to savory with distinctive Australian favorites from Nash-Blackwell’s homeland. Jonathan, on the other hand, grew up in Lubbock, where he attended Ella Iles Elementary School with Natalie Mains, of The Chicks. A lifelong fan of the 806, he’s amazed by the changes over the past decade.
“When Lubbock’s population broke 250,000, it brought all kinds of things to town we didn’t have before,” said Blackwell. “Now, more than ever, we’re living up to the name the “Hub City.” We’re not just located in the center of other great cities in Texas. We’re a medical hub, an agricultural hub, a hub for education, and now a hub for great places to visit, eat and stay plus so many cool things to see and do.”
They’re so confident in the area, the couple is seeking co-investors to purchase their building and continue their investment in downtown.
“Downtown is already a destination for entertainment, restaurants, galleries, agencies, and office space,” said Blackwell. “Buddy Holly Hall is right down Avenue K. The new Civic Park will be an amazing asset and Metro Tower apartments will be incredible, with the highest density of living in Lubbock just outside our back door,” he continued. “As these developments fill in, downtown will become one continuous thoroughfare and a rich conduit of omni-cultural activity.”
“Now, more than ever, we’re living up to the name the ‘Hub City’.”
The downtown craft beer scene continues to see growth with the addition of a husband/wife brewery called Auld Brewing Company. With Panhandle origins, this duo decided to turn their hobby into a profession. With two decades of home brewing, Ray took to the brews and Andrea used her career in human resources as unexpected training in her new position, bartender.
With the revitalization of downtown Lubbock well underway, the pair knew they wanted to bring their expertise and passion for craft beer to the heart of the city. Ray and Andrea found the ideal location along Broadway next to two new small businesses.
“To get to know a city, it all starts downtown,” explained Andrea. “We appreciate being surrounded by innovative startups sharing the same struggles, wins, and passions.
A passion for their craft is just the tip of the glass, if you will; they find connection to the community and local support to be the driving force of their small business.
“In the craft beer industry, the community is a focal point, and giving back is important to us,” said Andrea. “We take part in local fundraisers, honor military, first responders, and front-line medical professionals. The Auld Foundation is our pride and joy, created to mentor young women leaders,” she continued.
It’s all made possible through Ray’s ever-popular ambers and lagers. Soon they’ll add Porters, Belgium drafts, and a cream ale. Their brews fill the glass from an innovative “bottom-up” serving system which creates a perfect pour every time.
With more residents moving in and businesses opening throughout downtown, the duo sees a future worth toasting to.
“Every building will be occupied. Downtown will be a destination in and of itself, with businesses popping up and people filling the streets,” said Andrea. “You’ll hear people from all over the country saying ‘Yeah, I was in Lubbock last weekend; it was awesome.’”
“Downtown will be a destination in and of itself, with businesses popping up and people filling the streets.”
A decade ago Texas Tech was the only draw for Brianne Van Reenan and her husband to Lubbock. Now, the couple call the “Hub City” home and have taken seriously their personal motto to “invest in where you live” with the opening of Wild Lark Books.
“I feel like Lubbock and I have grown together. I came here fresh out of college and now I’m running a business with a small family,” continued Van Reenan. “The more I ask of Lubbock, the more it answers. The more I seek the more I find. What I didn’t find, I started.”
Locating Wild Lark Books in downtown Lubbock was always part of the story.
“To me, being downtown was crucial,” said Van Reenan. “A small bookshop on ‘main street’ is every book lover’s dream,” she continued. “You can describe a great downtown with three words: culture, uniqueness and flavor. These words describe every business around me. Within just a few steps, you can discover a fantastic brewery, an otherworldly bookshop, and an artesian restaurant. You can park once, enjoy the area, get back in your car and in 10 minutes, be anywhere else in the city.”
Van Reenan believes her shop is helping define and amplify a distinctive downtown vibe. Lubbock’s culture is ever-evolving, much like its downtown. Each business, much like the books that line the shelves at Wild Lark, offer a uniqueness that speaks to locals in a language that can be interpreted in a myriad of ways.
“One of the reasons I love this area is because businesses are open to experimentation, collaboration, and opportunities to bring recognition to the entire downtown area,” said Van Reenen. “As one person takes a leap to create a new, unique business, someone else will ride that wave of inspiration and do the same, believing ‘If they can do it, I can do it.’”
“The more I ask of Lubbock, the more it answers. The more I seek, the more I find.”