Monday, March 10, 2008

The Fox & Hound Is Gone? Ha-ha!

I have just learned, via Mean Rachel, that the Fox & Hound is now nothing more than a pile of rubble. I consider this a beautiful thing.

I always hated the Fox & Hound. Which might sound like an odd thing to say, given that I never set foot in the place. But there is some history here.

You see, once upon a time, it was completely illegal for breweries to sell their product on the premises. (And for microbreweries, it still is — yet another example of the utter stupidity and lack of sense in Texas' alcohol laws. Especially considering wineries
can sell their product on-site.) But in 1993, it became legal for brewpubs – restaurant that brew their own – to do business in Texas, and the very first one to open after legalization was Waterloo Brewing Company.

Waterloo was, hands down, my favorite bar in town. I liked pretty much everything they did. They had a raspberry beer that was actually quite tasty, despite my reservations about fruit beers. And I loved the O.Henry Porter. (In fact, we regulars liked asking them to mix the former and latter into something we called "Porterberry.") But, in these formative years of my beer snobbery — when America's craft beer movement was just moving into high gear — the biggest revelation to me was the Guytown IPA. I'd never heard of the India pale ale style, but I instantly knew I loved it. To this day, relying solely on memory, I still consider it my favorite beer
ever. And their food was tasty, the pool room upstairs was great, and nothing beat drinking on their rooftop.

But eventually, Adam and Eve got kicked out of Eden. And Waterloo came to an end. In 2001, the bar lost its lease because the property owners said they wanted to replace it with high-rise condos. Which I didn't like, but I was willing to at least excuse a little bit because I do generally support the idea of vertical mixed use development downtown. But then the condos never happened! Suddenly, there was a new bar in Waterloo's place! I felt betrayed. Like some sort of bait and switch had happened. They got rid of the homegrown brewpub and replaced it with a chain.
Grrrr. I vowed to never set foot in the place. I worried that perhaps that was a bit close-minded of me, but Moira Muldoon, who wrote the great "Girl Walks Into a Bar" column for the Statesman, vindicated my stubbornness when she reviewed the Fox and Hound as "awful. Horrible. I'd rather give up this column than be forced to go back there."

I giggled with glee when I read that. But it still didn't ease the pain of losing what may have been my all time favorite bar. It's still gone. All that remains is a website. And memories.


ttrentham said...

Richard Ault, metblogger from San Francisco in for SXSWi, happened to catch the demolition in action.

Mean Rachel said...

If it makes you feel any better, they are tearing it down to build condos. Not sure why it took them so long.

Frankly I'm sort of glad I won't have anywhere to bite it on a set of concrete stairs anymore. My health insurance company thanks them.

And how did I not know about this Austin Metblog? Go-go-google reader, go!

Anonymous said...

Brilliant! My wife has been having this same rant for years.

You forgot to mention the quarter pool. Ahh... those were the days.

HumuloneRed said...

I have slightly different perspective on the destruction of this building. When I saw the pile of rubble on Saturday night I nearly thew up. I was not thinking about I The Fox & Hound of course.
I worked at Waterloo Brewing Company for 3 years up until we closed on September 1st, 2001. So I too had a lot of memories in that building. But time marches on and the Fox & Hound opened and then closed. I knew I would never step in that building again. But seeing the remains of that building rekindled the memories of Waterloo for me. It also reminded me of how much Austin is changing, and not for the better.

BTW- There was no bait & switch with the Fox & Hound. 10 days after Waterloo closed the tragic events of 911 occurred and the economy went down the toilet. The condo project was scrapped and the building was empty for some time before the Fox & Hound leased it out.

Mean Rachel said...

I feel for ya, Charles!

I lost my favorite bar in November (who knew you had to pay taxes?) and while the building itself is a historical marker, and won't ever be torn down, it makes me somewhat sad to know that what was once a great piano bar and home to many, many memories will now be turned into some glossy, super-loud, "ultra-lounge."

Machuca said...

Yeah, I saw the pile on my way into Gingerman last night. I did not live here during the time of Waterloo (or F&H). I have been to the F&H in Memphis and it was a less than great experience.

Anonymous said...

Dave T says...

Even the beer anti-snob loved Waterloo. Not the IPA. But Waterloo I loved.

Not only did I never set foot in Fox & Hound, I cursed it everytime I drove by.

Karla said...

I STILL miss Waterloo. That was my joint, my bar, my place and I was there AT LEAST weekly. Not only was the beer good, but the vibe was good, the building was truly comfortable and cool and the veggie sandwich ( I always got mine with bacon) was my favorite veggie sandwich EVER. I've never really found a place that I liked as much since.

I never went to Fox and Hound either. I was disgusted at what they did the the building (took out the cool retro vibe) and I refuse to step foot into places that offend my aesthetic sensibilities. (Ahem, tongue in cheek aesthete here.)

David said...

I am touched to know so many others miss Waterloo as much as I do.

I was there every Sunday evening. My new wife and I would go there, read the week's mail, pay bills, and plan our vacations. It became an extenion of our living room, which is what a good pub should be. I had my wedding rehersal dinner after-party there. I remember sitting on the roof watching cars get stuck in the deep gravel parking across the street.

I admit to having gone in the Fox and Hound just once. I had to see it. I asked the 20 something serving us, over the din of a thousand televisions, if they knew of a place called Waterloo Brewing. They'd never heard of it.

After waterloo I stopped going down to the warehouse district altogether. After Ruta Maya moved to LoCo the place lost its laid back vibe. Gingerman is still there, of course, but its days are numbered now to.

I didn't even realize the building had been torn down. Man I remember it vividly. I have pictures of us there, on the closing night.

Charles says Austin is changing but not for the better. Back in 2001 I would have agreed with you. Austin lost its small town feel, costs are up, and tollways suck. But there is the good. Opal Devines replaced Waterloo. Neighborhoods which where notable only for their prostitution busts are now vibrant fun places to go. We now have several micros right here in Austin! Add to that a host of cool new coffee shops and restaurants. Austin is still a great place to be.

Lee said...

D: If you like Opal's, you may want to check out my post bitching about that place (and the anti-Opal's dogpile that ensued in the comments section).