Skip navigation.

The Bo Tree


In about 1972 or '73, a hippie restaurant was opened on Rio Grande a few blocks from the Capitol. The main two founders were John Dickerson and Fred Parker, and they called it "The Bo Tree" (short for "the bodhi tree" from the Buddhist tradition. Other investors/hangers on included Kurt N., Chuck, John C., Bonnie John, Buster Byrum, Bonnie John, Diane Huerrmann (from San Fran), and me. Fortunately, Diane and Bonnie could actually cook, a detail that might have been initially overlooked. The rest of us took up other tasks - e.g. waiting/bussing tables, washing dishes, general cleaning, etc. It was a lot more work than we had bargained for, but we persevered. The food was actually fairly good - at least some dishes - e.g. chef salad, vegie burger platter, and we even began to attract non-hippie clients such as State Capitol employees - for a while at least. :) Here are a couple of recollections:

1. I was serving a group of women from the Capitol, and one ordered a chef salad. I was really trying to do my 'waitress best' in the hope of attracting new customers. However, as I served the chef salad, one of those giant Austin cockroaches crawled out from under a large leaf of romaine lettuce, which was met by shreiks of horror/indignation and a hasty exit. Now, let's be clear that we weren't slobs, and our cooks had a high standard for cleanliness. However, this was Austin, and many neighborhoods were infested with roaches. So no matter how hard we tried, a few slipped by us now and then - much to our chagrin. Loyal customers just shrugged off such news, but this definitely put a dent in the diversity of our clientele.

2. One beautiful, spring Sunday, the Bo Tree folks decided to bring some food to a music festival at a local park to make an extra dime or two and contribute to the festivities. Unfortunately, no one realized that some Bo Tree person had laced the vat of soup with some downers, which adversely affected a few hippies who were apparently quite fond of soup. While packing up to leave, we noticed they seemed to be asleep, and quite wisely loaded them up in our van and took them back to the Bo Tree where they eventually awoke and went home.

It was quite enjoyable to work with friends and see a bit of success, while getting a slight taste of the real world. It was Austin in the seventies - anything could happen and sometimes did.

P.S. Memories from that era are a bit spotty/fuzzy, so other stories, additions, and/or changes to this article are welcome.