It's a sad day in Austin. Texas Showdown Saloon, which I praised on this blog only a few weeks ago, is closing. I don't know what the property owners will be putting in its place, but I can guess. I've said it before, but I'll repeat: I really am a supporter of vertical mixed use development in this town. I realize that growth in Austin has become inevitable, and that keeping our city compact, walkable, and oriented toward mass transit is better than sprawl. But part of the VMU deal is that really cool shops and stuff are supposed to be on the ground floor of all these high-rises. So why can't that "cool stuff" be my favorite bars? I've lost Waterloo Brewery, now Showdown, and the Ginger Man will be gone in about a year. At least I can put one ugly rumor to rest: A manager at the Dog & Duck tells me that they just signed a lease and "we should be good for at least a year." At least. But I certainly won't be shocked to find out it's next up on the chopping block. Below is what I published in The Austin Chronicle today. (Note: the info about Happy Minutes pricing might be wrong; I just grabbed it off their website, and who knows when that was last updated):
Yet another bit of Austin's soul is disappearing in the name of progress. Texas Showdown Saloon, the venerable watering hole near UT campus – and home of beloved Happy Minutes, the daily 15-minute interlude when 10-ounce domestic beers cost only 40 cents – will close down, probably sometime in late April or May. "We've lost our lease; that's a fact," says Eddie Mack, general manager of the chain's Austin and San Marcos locations (Showdown also has bars in Arlington and Fort Worth). "They did not renew it. ... They're not willing to give us another lease. They've taken another offer on something; I'm not sure what." We're not sure what, either – Mack didn't want to give us contact information for the property's owners, saying, "I really don't know how that's relevant to anything." Through county property records, we learned that the site is owned by Julia J. Sawyer, who owns other Austin properties (including famed breakfast-taco joint Tamale House). We know that Sawyer has been in ill health in recent years and that her family has been managing her properties, but we were unsuccessful in contacting the family. "It's a sorrowful occasion," said Mack, manager since 1992. "I've put a lot of blood and guts into this place. It's been here since 1981. We have lots of faithful clientele that really hate to see us go, and I hate to see it go, but there's nothing I can do." Prior to the Showdown, the property previously housed the legendary punk venue Raul's. Mack says Texas Showdown will try to relocate elsewhere in Austin. – Lee Nichols
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