Night with the Bruces

Night Out with The Bruces

WILD ABOUT TOWN — Local couple Robin and Taylor Bruce show us around the Austin they love.



Robin and Taylor Bruce briefly called themselves Austinites back in 2009 when Robin, who hails from Houston, was attending Acton’s innovative MBA business entrepreneurship program and Taylor, a Georgia native and magazine writing veteran, was working as a stringer for Southern Living. After Robin graduated, the couple moved to New York, where Taylor attended grad school at Brooklyn College. It was there that he conceptualized the idea of the Wildsam Field Guides, a series of American travel guides, packed with soul and locally driven content, that the Wall Street Journal has recommended to “tireless seekers of the authentic.” His first city guide, Nashville, was published in 2012 and an Austin edition followed soon after. In fact, just weeks after the Austin guide’s launch party in spring 2013, Robin was offered the position of CEO at Acton, her recent alma mater. The couple eagerly answered the call of opportunity and moved back to Austin last September.

I recently spent the evening wandering around town with the two dynamos, visiting their favorite local haunts and talking about their work and life, future plans, and what they love about their newly adopted hometown.


I met up with the Bruces at the Wildsam office, a charming home-turned-workspace on East 21st Street that Taylor shares with local creatives—a photographer, a graphic designer, a food writer. “The whole sharing one roof thing has transformed my work day,” Taylor says. “It’s such good energy with these folks.” And a comfy place for Cooper “Coop,” the Bruces four-year-old goldendoodle, to hang out. The impossibly friendly (and fluffy) pup was the first to greet me at the door and he seemed like the ideal mascot for the up-and-coming couple. The majority of Robin’s mission as Acton CEO centers around the potential of aspiring entrepreneurs, so it only seemed natural that the couple wanted to grab a few cocktails at the locally owned hot spot, Contigo.


“We love the kinds of places that are pulled up from the bootstraps,” Taylor says once we arrive at their favorite outdoor patio in the city. “We feel like passionate local businesses help define the culture of a place like Austin, which attracts transplants from all over the world.” Taylor orders a Nor’easter (his favorite cocktail in Austin) and Robin has a Paloma, served in a tall glass with a fresh slice of grapefruit that seemed to match her bright smile and bubbly laugh. Despite his lack of a cocktail, Coop was having an equally grand time, smiling complacently and sitting squarely in between the Bruces’ knees.


The couple actually bought Coop during their first three months living in New York. “It’s always good to get a large dog right before you move into a really small space,” Robin laughs. “It was actually cool,” Taylor says. “He slept in the tub.”

So Coop, and the Bruces, have been happily spreading their wings since moving to Austin. “We really dig the boardwalk,” Taylor says. “On a normal night out, we’re probably not at a bar; we’re at the boardwalk.” The newly extended stretch of the hike-and-bike trail seems to epitomize the city’s coexisting urban and all-natural elements that the Bruces adore. Taylor also loves the Big and Little Stacy neighborhood parks in Travis Heights. “These amazing neighborhood parks are such a hidden secret of Austin,” Robin adds. “From our house, we can walk over on these cute little foot bridges.”


When the Bruces moved back to Austin, they made the decision to plant some permanent roots. “And part of planting roots is really digging into the community, getting to know our neighbors and the places right around us,” Robin says. Some of their favorite local go-tos include Cenote (for the beet sandwich), Flat Track Coffee (their cortados are midday dreams), and Bufalina (“It’s the closest we can get to New York pizza.”).

And the couple is more than just symbolically rooting. They bought their first home this fall in the Bouldin Creek neighborhood. “We share a property line with Lucy’s Fried Chicken, so I’m afraid we’re going to be spending lots of time there,” Robin says.


For dinner, we head to Quality Seafood for some laid-back seafood fare. (“We love Clark’s, but it’s nice to go somewhere that’s not perfectly branded and just so,” Taylor says.) One of their friends, visiting from New York, joins us for a few cold beers and Gulf oysters on the half shell. It seems natural for the Bruces to find an easygoing table of friends wherever they go. “This was the first time we had really walked into a city and had a group of people we knew really well,” Robin says about the initial attraction to Austin’s welcoming vibes. “Everything starts with a relationship here. It’s much less transactional than other cities we’ve lived in (New York, DC, etc.), and the sense of community and support here is refreshing.” Robin spends a majority of her time at Acton working alongside the most ambitious young adults in the country, but the Bruces have both found a similar spirit of inclusiveness throughout their intersecting fields. “It feels like everyone here is cheering on, rather than tearing down,” Taylor adds.


The Bruces live dangerously close to the Dolce Neve gelateria and they love to stop by for a sweet treat on any given night. I, for one, was personally delighted by the sense of small-town serendipity. I had just moved into a new house on Annie Street, one block from the South First Street gelateria. And it felt nice to share that reassuring sense of connection in such a bustling capital city.

In between spoonfuls, I ask Robin if she had done anything recently in town that had surprised her. “I ran the full 10-mile loop around the Lake...going over the dam on Pleasant Valley and looking around the city, I was reminded what a small town Austin still is... and how fortunate we are to live in a place like this.”


Photography by Kate LeSueur

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