They say nothing lasts forever, and that you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone. We tend to agree on those. But someone else said if you really love something, let it go. Whoever said that can suck it.
In our line of work we get to run around town checking out all of the new bars and venues, searching for the newest hot spot, and many times we get really excited about new openings. But the flip side to that coin is that too often when one door opens, another one has to close, and many a door has closed on great bars, restaurants and venues in Austin over the years. Only the good die young.
Many members of the Do512 staff were feeling very nostalgic recently, and thus decided to put together a list of our favorite Austin places that have closed or moved in the past 10 years. The list was quite long (and distinguished) but each of us were able to narrow it down to our top two or three most missed places, and provide a brief story or memory of why we miss the place.
The really sad part is that we couldn’t find pictures of some of these places online, as if they vanished like a fart in the wind. Nonetheless, we’re here to remember them with this digital eulogy. Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.
The Ghost Room:
- The Ghost Room was far and away one of the best sounding little dives in Austin. Whenever a band I loved said they were playing here, it was top priority. For a bar that size the sound was perfect, the stage was intimate, and the beer was cheap and cold. The patio was enormous, the cutest girls always went there…..and now it’s….what? Scheduled for demolition? Another warehouse in the Warehouse District? Envisioning a future as a parking lot? Open it back up!
- My dear friend managed to use her charm and grab the VERY LAST growler of Lovejoys’ trademark IPA brew for my birthday the same week these cool cats announced they were calling it quits. It was, indeed, a bittersweet gift. Knowing I would possibly never again taste that sweet concoction broke my heart. I still have that awesome growler though. Lovejoys was a comfortable hole in the wall just off the dirtiest part of Dirty 6th, a home away from home, an escape from the mess that was shot bars and dumb people. A biker bar with good friends and homemade beer and hospitality. Hopefully we’ll see Lovejoys Jr. somewhere soon (fingers crossed for a South Austin location!).
The Good Knight:
- Oh, Good Knight. We hardly knew ye. Sure, Sputnik is pretty awesome, but before then, kids, this spot was a cozy hideaway on the East Side. Sure, the drinks were a little expensive. Sure, the place was dangerously dimly lit. But….you guys…..THE FOOD. Every dish had a unique spin, but every time it was delicious. Beyond that, the whole place just had this great old-fashioned feel to it, from the pictures on the wall to the hand-crafted cocktails to the FOOD. Did I mention that the food was amazing? I’m told this was a prime spot for a date, but alas, I never got the chance to woo a lovely lady with the Good Knight. Perhaps that hypothetical woman was my soul mate, and now I’ll be alone forever because the Good Knight is gone. Come back, Good Knight!
- My best Momo’s memories are of loud funk bands and the crowd dancing like maniacs and making the entire room bounce… which could have been the reason for the weird emergency close. Not to mention a great rooftop patio without the west 6th Street pretention.
- I’ll only remember having one of the most fun nights of my life at the time at Aces Lounge during an ACL aftershow. Other than that, it was good for loud, hot, sweaty nights and you could watch from the balcony if you were a VIP, which I’m sure was super awesome.
- Beauty Bar got flack for being hipster central, but that sounds like a hipster complaint to me. It had a great patio for excellent hipster watching and hipster smoking. The music was always fun and you could get your nails did.
- Foundation was really the first of it’s kind. It was dimly lit, with awesome music, great decor, and the perfect place to mingle with singles. You could do laps around the circular bar or head upstairs for a change of scenery. It was the place to see and be seen.
- Paradise Cafe was not only one of the few places to eat on 6th St, it also attracted a gang of college students. The Queso Catfish was off the chain and “muff diver” birthday jello shots were a weekly regimen. The staff was family and the regulars were friends.
- The Iron Gate was awesome. It was divey to the max, the bartenders were fans of telling you stories that were too ridiculous for Jerry Springer while taking shots of whiskey, the credit card machine moved slower than a hungover baby turtle, and they once let a group of my friends host an incredible ruckus of a talent show night there that had a wildly inappropriate name. Also, who can forget orange whips? Orange Whips with Sailor Jerry Drops were my pancreas’ jam. As much as I miss it, I love Violet Crown. All is well.
- This place, now Easy Tiger, was weiiiiird. Somehow, I always wound up in there during SXSW because there was a seat and food and the smell of fried plantains wafting up from the basement soooo….burgers and fries and Cuban food downstairs. I loved it because it made so much sense.
- Urghmegawd I hate buying sports bras at Target that’s just all there is to it.
- Trophy’s was always our little dive bar. I co-produced my first event there when Matt from LIONS was still managing the place. I remember when the “grill” part of the name was still valid and you could get a cheeseburger, which was a good companion to a cheap cold beer. The sound was often surprisingly good in this place and I saw some memorable shows here. Ghostland Observatory, White Denim, Dead Confederate and The Death Set all stand out. The staff was cool too. One night I took a friend there who had just been released from the military, and they treated him to free, after-hours fun to show thanks for his service.
Sundayz Soul Food Trailer:
- This tasty little food truck was located on the back patio at The Volstead, and they had the most awesome chicken sandwiches of all time. They were simple, southern-fried and topped with hot sauce and pickles. Better than Chick-fil-a and way less homophobic. They also served mashed potatoes. Where else can you get mashed taters on East 6th? One time I left my friends at a concert a Stubb’s just to run over there to grab a sandwich. I have no idea where they moved, or if they’re even still in business, which just adds to the intrigue.
- This is an easy one. Emo’s on Red River was pretty much the center of everything for me for most of the 2000′s. I always knew that no matter what was going on I could stop by Emo’s, catch up with some people I knew, and see some good music. I saw tons of great shows there. Too many to name or even recall. Free Week was always a blast at Emo’s. And of course lots of fun during SXSW. From the notoriously grimy bathrooms, to the patio lined with old concert posters, to the interesting artwork and a great indoor stage…Emo’s was the bomb.
- I miss this dirty, sweaty, run down and above all, REAL blues bar for all the same reasons I wish I were cooler than I am. It was so awesome to go over there on a Wednesday night (dubbed “White Night” by someone who works there, perhaps TC himself?) with whiskey in hand, honoring their byob(ooze) policy. A classic visit to TC’s wouldn’t be complete without a strange vagrant, cup in hand, asking for a pull of your liquor. A complete departure from our world of straight lines and solid colors. RIP TC’s.
The Scoot Inn:
- Apparently this place is changing hands and won’t be having regular concerts anymore, which is a shame. I saw/played some great shows there (including the very last show under the original management. It was a blowout to end all blowouts!) I’m sure there are other even more upset than me, namely members of Brewskee-Ball (local competitive skee-ball league) who called the Scoot their home for years. Who knows what the future holds for this venue, but definitely not skee-balls.
- Great. Now where can I go on a Saturday night to GET PREGNANT??! Shit’s cray.
The Backstage Bar (At La Zona Rosa):
- The Backstage Bar is the little bar directly behind La Zona Rosa, a popular Food & Bev industry hangout back in the early-mid 2000′s, and also a popular place to meet up before or after La Zona shows. I have fond memories of this place because it is one of the first places we did Do512 events, and also the first place where I met Lawrence Boone (the author of this article). This was part of the Direct Events family, who was the VERY FIRST advertiser on Do512. They had a few ping pong tables there and I remember one time back in early 2007, we hosted a Do512 Beer Pong tournament there, and when we got like 50 people to show up, we were like , “See, Do512 DOES pull a crowd!”
The Old KLRU Studio (Austin City Limits):
- Not only is Austin City Limits one of the most iconic music programs in the history of television, it is also one of the greatest venues of all time. Every time you are lucky enough to score a ticket, you always get the sense you are witnessing a piece of musical history. There’s something magical about that place, the look and feel of the studio, the intimate arrangement of the seats, the cameras, the lights…and it seems to bring out the best in the performers. I remember watching the show as a kid, seeing the Austin skyline in the backdrop and thinking it was real, and thinking it was some HUGE performance happening in an outdoor venue in front of tens of thousands of people. Even as a child I thought of Austin as this mythical, magical place where the best music in the world happens. I have a bunch of shows here over the years, and every time it is something really special. Some of my top shows: Flaming Lips (w/ Cat Power), REM, Widespread Panic, Neko Case, Robert Earl Keen.
- This was my main watering hole for years, until it burned down. This is the little bar directly connected to the Bitter End, although the B-Side had its own distinct personality and was much more intimate and less corporate than the Bitter End. There was nothing super special about it, but I just liked it. They brewed their own beer and and kind of an underground vibe (it actually partially underground). I think I was turned down by more girls there than any other bar in Austin in the early 2000′s (and I was turned down by a LOT of girls in a LOT of bars in those days).
- While many never had the opportunity to experience Somnio’s Cafe, its closing left a serious hole in my lofty-same-as-everyone-else agenda to constantly attempt to be healthier. Somnio’s was close to my home and close to my office, and it was the ultimate lunch spot. The kind you search for forever, or at least you do if you are a Do512 employee as evidenced by the daily conversation about where to eat. Before Somnio’s, I was on the search to find this perfect place, and now that Somnio’s has gone, I still have not found a way to replace it. It was healthy and served locally grown food whenever it could, but the big difference was that it was healthy food masked as delicious food. This is key, and hard to do. Especially for lunch. It meant I could invite the “I only eat meat and grease” folks here, the “I’m 100 pounds but still on a diet” folks here, and then all the normal people in the middle of said spectrum of course. Even though it looked and felt all hippy/healthy, the food was freaking phenomenal and the environment wasn’t over the top crunchy, so even the wary always left loving it. This does not happen often. I can honestly say I’m not sure it’s ever happened for me. In fact, if someone can give me a new lunch place near South Lamar that rivals Somnio’s, I will literally pay you for the suggestion (if it’s good). It’s the one and only restaurant that I have ever found that was the perfect mix of all the things you want in a go-to-lunch-place, and it’s closing has re-opened my constant quest for this perfect place. Now it’s back to the weekly, “where is a good place for a healthy lunch meeting” conversation. And that, my friends, is one conversation I bet a lot of you will agree with me on when I say “I AM SICK OF HAVING.”
- Admittedly, towards the end of Room 710’s time on Red River, I didn’t visit much. I don’t have one great story or memory, but I’ve always had this soft spot for the place. Hell if I know why exactly, it’s not like Emo’s where I learned about all of my feelings listening to The Get Up Kids there or whatever. The unfortunate part about Room 710 is that it was one of the cooler rooms in Austin in my opinion. It’s the sort of place that once you enter, you get. But before that, you almost forget that, despite it’s prime location, it exists. I have friends from all walks of life here in Austin and I love ‘em all. But for that group of friends that don’t go to Red River unless for a specific reason such as an Aesop Rock show at Mohawk, because otherwise it still scares them, Room 710 might as well have been guarded by two-headed trolls with 10 foot swords ready to slice your head off if you looked at them (like Billy Corgan during his pre-concert sound checks). I totally get the allure of being that sort of venue – the one that doesn’t give a fuck, that doesn’t want you to come in anyways. My 5 year quest to get Jimmy, the owner of G&S Lounge, to just acknowledge me (he did like 5 years ago!), is an example of a venue doing that right. If you disagree, let’s just consider the topic of this post and G&S Lounge’s being still-open-ness despite the fact that Austinite’s seem to universally talk about Jimmy being a dick. That’s not to say Room 710 closed because of aforementioned trolls and overall unwelcome-ness. It’s just to say that it was a little scary to some and based on my limited knowledge of owning a venue downtown, it seems like a space that huge in that prime a location doesn’t have the luxury of being as niche as it may like. And it was a sad day to see that semi-scary badass space close down. I imagine Valhalla has picked up right where Room 710 left off, but I haven’t yet had a reason to find out I hate to admit. Now I plan to go check it out mind you, publicly admitting I have never been is a good motivator for me. And then I am going to head to Headhunter’s to figure out what that place is all about….just in case it plans to close anytime soon.
Also, Qua, because it was the only suitable spot to go from Exhibit A:
to Exhibit B:
*photos used in this article are linked from whence they were found