Philanthropy saved the historic Driskill Hotel from demolition almost 50 years ago. When developers threatened to bulldoze the property, The Heritage Society of Austin (now called Preservation Austin) raised more than $900,000 by hosting a “bake sale” of $10 stocks and forming the nonprofit Driskill Hotel Corporation. The then-citizen-owned Driskill became a National Historic Landmark in November 1969, forever preserving it as Austin’s hotel.
After reopening, the Heritage Society of Austin operated the 1886 Lunchroom for more than 20 years. But in 2002, the restaurant was reopened as the 1886 Café & Bakery to pay homage to the women who successfully saved the hotel and ran the restaurant for multiple decades.
Last year, the Driskill found the perfect way to give back. Its Cookies for Caring event offers the community a chance to buy the traditional Driskill tin for just $35 and then come fill it with some of the best cookies in Austin. This year, like last year, all proceeds benefit the families from the Austin American-Statesman’s Season for Caring campaign.
“We see ourselves as a big part of the community. After all, we’ve been here for 130 years,” says executive chef Toy Sansalone. “We were inspired by that story of how the community helped the hotel, so this is how we turn around and help the community.”
The second Cookies for Caring event, happening Sunday, Dec. 11, from 1 – 3 pm, features some of the best cookies from the best pastry chefs in Austin. Participating pastry chefs come from the following restaurants.
Chef Sansalone will contribute a bourbon pecan cookie, “just a great cookie for the holidays,” he says. Unfortunately for those who have not reserved their tin, it’s too late. All 300 tins have sold out.