When Kitty Murray moved back to Austin from New York City five years ago, she had quite a dilemma. All her friends were gone.
Murray was taking a job doing programming for the Austin Film Festival, but during the seven years she had been away, many of her close pals had scattered elsewhere.
“I really had to start over socially,” she says. “There was only one lesbian bar here and that wasn’t what I wanted. So I decided to put an ad up on craigslist.”
Murray wasn’t looking for love, just a few friends. Her first ad seeking other women who wanted to join her for sushi didn’t get one response. So she tried again, this time asking ladies to meet her at the Spider House Café for coffee. Boom. Thirteen peo ple showed up. That was the launch of Foodies.
You see, Murray reasoned that if she – an outgoing, attractive professional – was having trouble meeting women in Austin, other lesbians were probably similarly daunted. So she took it upon herself to form a group around the one thing most people have in common–a love of good food.
“I had been an event planner for the Rockefeller Foundation in New York so I know how to put together an event and I know how to cook. I’ve also waited tables and been around food all my life. This just made sense.”
The idea is thus: Murray works hand-in- hand with local restaurants and other venues to plan an event and then throws the invite out to Austin Foodies’ list of more than 3,000. Sometimes it’s in a bar, some times it’s in a coffee shop. She’s done even done larger mixers, such as the Big Mingle and another dubbed Bo ing-Boing the Bouncing Lesbo Bar. “Foodies is for women who love women who love food,” Murray says. “It’s a social happening that occurs in all different kinds of venues and it’s open to all ages and all types of women.”
Through the years, Foodies has expanded to include larger mixers as well as more intimate dinners and gatherings. These days, Murray is planning about three events each month, which is keeping her pretty busy. She departed her job as an elementary school teacher to devote more attention to Foodies and field freelance work that she’s been offered because of the group. Now that the concept has proven successful, the goal is to figure out how to make Foodies profitable.
Foodies is always a different group and is constantly changing because of the influx and outflow of participants. Murray says she’s proud that women who have met through Foodies have branched off to form their own social circles around common interests such as sports or photography.
At the moment Murray is focused on relauncing Foodies’ web site (www.foodiesaustin.com) and bringing the organization back to its original purpose. “That was to make friends, but also to provide entertainment to the lesbian community – in all forms. …I really want to see our Web site grow and become a meeting place itself for women.”