June 29, 2022

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Barbecue Capital of Texas gets cute wine and book shop

5 min read

Walk through the hot pink front door of Best Little Wine & Books in Lockhart looking for a bottle, and you’ll quickly be greeted by sommelier Kaye Askins trilling out a cheerful “Hello my darling!” closely followed by her small scruffy dog, Chicken Hawkins, should he deign to move from his bed under the shop’s built-in fireplace.

It’s immediately apparent why Askins gave her shop, which had its grand opening in April, the name. The place is small, but it’s bright and colorful. Shelves stocked with wine bottles feature tags with facts about each wine, dutifully handwritten by Askins. Four round gold tables make up the front of the shop, where guests can sit and sip from purple or pink stemmed wine glasses, settled in front of a large picture window that faces the street.

Best Little Wine & Books in Lockhart sells small-production and sustainably made wines.

Best Little Wine & Books in Lockhart sells small-production and sustainably made wines.

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Lockhart may seem like an interesting spot for Best Little Wine & Books—it certainly wouldn’t be out of place on Austin’s famed South Congress Avenue. The Central Texas town 30 miles south of Austin, population 14,379, is better known for its rustic barbecue joints than its cute wine shops. The Texas legislature dubbed it the “Barbecue Capital of Texas” in 2003, a reputation anchored by Kreuz Market, Black’s Barbecue and Smitty’s Market.

For Askins, Lockhart was the perfect place for her little wine shop. Her partner, Travis Tober, who co-owns hip Austin cocktail bar Nickel City, opened Old Pal Bar in Lockhart in May 2021. After going back and forth weekly for months, the couple moved to Lockhart last November. They’re passionate about preserving, protecting and supporting the small town. And as Austin gets more and more expensive, Askins is seeing others put down roots in Lockhart.

A tiny shop in a small town, where she can wave to people heading to the downtown square through the window, is exactly what Askins wants.  

“I don’t want anything bigger than this,” Askins said. “I want it to stay little. I’ve got people telling me, ‘You’re already going to need…’ And I promise you, I don’t need.” 

Kaye Askins worked at Eately Dallas and the Capital Grille in Plano before opening Best Little Wine & Books in Lockhart.

Kaye Askins worked at Eately Dallas and the Capital Grille in Plano before opening Best Little Wine & Books in Lockhart.

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It’s a definite change of pace for Askins. A Fort Worth native, she’s been in hospitality for 13 years, most recently as senior beverage manager for restaurants at Eataly Dallas—47,000 square feet of restaurant space versus the 700 square feet of wine shop she manages now.

There wasn’t a tipping point when she realized she was done with fine dining or the rush of the restaurant floor. Best Little Wine & Books was always a far-off “maybe someday when I’m old and retired” dream, she says, until Tober took her past an available building in Lockhart he heard would be perfect. Askins scoffed when he suggested looking at it. Then she saw the outside, a lime green building, and fell in love with it. She and Tober met with their realtor and toured the building the very next day.

“Everything about it was so perfect. It was very serendipitous,” said Askins. “[We thought], if we get approval for this, this is exactly how we dreamed it: A small space that is very much part of the neighborhood.”

The building was built in 1945 and originally served as the town clinic (though it was a loan office right before Askins came in), and it’s not uncommon for people to come in and tell Askins they were born exactly where 150 wine selections now sit. She kept most of the building’s existing character, mainly just installing shelves, putting in a vintage door marked “Private” to cordon off an interior room, and painting the front door and an interior pillar hot pink to match.

Best Little Wine & Books in Lockhart is a place to grab a bottle of wine and pick up some reading.

Best Little Wine & Books in Lockhart is a place to grab a bottle of wine and pick up some reading.

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She curated her wine list to include producers people may recognize and some that they may not. She found out what people in Lockhart wanted from a local bottle shop and expanded her offerings in kind, emphasizing female and minority winemakers, as well as those using sustainable practices.

“I can geek out on stuff, but really it’s about giving something to the community,” Askins said. “That’s just something I always want to put out there. This is accessible to you, it’s not some big secret, drink and enjoy.”

Askins also wants it to be a place where anyone can come in and learn about wine, whether they’re an experienced and adventurous drinker or a Pinot Grigio loyalist. She’s happy to recommend a book, or take anyone around the shop and answer questions, or talk about the history of a producer or the significance of a bottle. And she says she’s already been welcomed by the community who were excited to see a wine shop open near its historic downtown square. 

“If people legitimately want to come in and sit with a book and ask me questions and ask for suggestions on how to get started with wine tasting, what should they be drinking, what should they be looking for … I’m not going to charge for that. That’s not the point,” she said.

Kaye Askins and her partner, Travis Tober, have both opened businesses in Lockhart in the past year.

Kaye Askins and her partner, Travis Tober, have both opened businesses in Lockhart in the past year.

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Locals and visitors can purchase bottles to go, to enjoy in the shop (though again, Askins emphasizes how small the space is—she’s had to politely break the news to a group of 10 that wanted to come in), or purchase and peruse books about wine, food and cocktails in the shop’s cozy book nook.


“This is such a crazy and cool opportunity I never thought I could have for myself, but that is how Lockhart is,” Askins says. “The majority of the business owners here are female, and there’s a lot of young [women] coming down and a lot of young people coming down, like minded as us, just wanting an opportunity to have a little slower pace of life.”

Askins is happy about visitors coming from Austin and outside Lockhart—who are welcomed with that same “Hello my darling!”—but that’s not why she’s set up shop here.


“That’s not why I’m doing it. I’m doing it because this is our home,” she said.

Best Little Wine & Books

Find it: 210 W San Antonio St, Lockhart, TX 78644
Hours: Tuesday-Saturday 11 a.m.-8 p.m.



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