Congress Avenue Historic District, Austin, Texas, United States

A Start Apart

It was sitting right about here, in what is now a parking lot but used to be the much-missed Las Manitas, that Jeffrey Zeldman and I first seriously discussed creating a new web design conference-of-sorts. We could think of no better name than An Event Apart. A road show, we figured, held in funky art venues in both major and less-major cities, with a few speakers and a small audience. And so it was for the first year, before the attendee feedback spurred us to expand our scope and ambition.

We sat in a front booth, the restaurant nearly deserted, eating a breakfast of huevos con migas (for me) and a vegetable plate (for Jeffrey) and talking about what we would want from a conference that we attended. As we chatted, Lyle Lovett walked in the front door and right past our booth on his way to the back patio. Jeffrey gave him a casual “Hey, how are ya” nod as he walked by. I scooped my jaw up out of my plate.

Now AEA is a full-fledged conference series, so far beyond what we envisioned that morning. We’ve finally made it back to Austin, and intend to keep returning. Life has changed immeasurably, in ways that are almost impossible to credit.

I wouldn’t say I’d trade it all to get Las Manitas back, but I sure do miss those migas.