A highly authentic Tejas melting pot resurrected and restored in old New Braunfels, with 15 beers on tap and ungovernable music tendencies: outlaw country, rock, honky-tonk, punk, Tex-Mex, etc.
Revitalization” is a word you’ll likely hear if you spend any time in downtown New Braunfels these days. Thanks in part to a local chapter of the Texas Main Street program, which is part of the Texas Historical Commission, new businesses in the area are returning to the way they originally looked.
One glistening example of this reverse makeover is Mc Adoo’s Seafood Company, an upscale restaurant operated out of the city’s first federal post office, which dates to 1915. High ceilings, dark wood trim, and original design elements evoke a few words that don’t usually come to mind when looking at a refurbished building: “stately” and “authentic.” Before reopening as Mc Adoo’s, the building was closed to the public for 25 years.
In another nod to the past, a nearby building dating to 1871 has been completely overhauled, and recently reopened as the Phoenix Saloon, something it hadn’t been called since 1918. Purchased by former Time Out London Music Editor Ross Fortune, the Phoenix Saloon can best be described as “storied.”
Highly authentic countrified melting pot with the unusual suspects and 15 beers on tap. Musical tendencies: outlaw country, rock, blues, folk, honky-tonk, punk, funk, jazz, gospel, soul, reggae, and Tex-Mex.
In response to Austin’s “corporatized, sanitized, celebrified, and shittified” SXSW, the Phoenix Saloon will host a 12-hour blast of free, live, local music on Saturday, March 20. The name? South by So What. For details, visit thephoenixsaloon.com
Wells: $3 / Domestic bottles: $1.50-$2.50; domestic pints: $2.50-$3.50 / Import bottles: $3.50-$4; import pints: $4.50-$5.50
According to the captivating media alert Fortune sent out, the Phoenix Saloon was the first bar in Texas to serve women (a system of dangling “service” bells in the outdoor beer garden spared the gals’ reputations), had the first desegregated water fountain in town (after it became a department store), is haunted by the ghost of John Sippel (the building’s first owner, who committed suicide on the second floor in 1900), is possibly the birthplace of chili powder, brewed and distributed beer through a system of underground tunnels during Prohibition, had an alligator pit (which is now a Chase Bank), a deer pen, badger fights, and a pet parrot that asked customers, “Have you paid your bill?” in German. All true? One can only hope.
Fortune originally planned to open a live-music venue in Austin. When I asked him about his decision to settle in New Braunfels, he explained that nothing in Austin jumped out at him. “It’s like buying a house — you know when it’s right.” On a whim, Fortune’s realtor, Debbie Smith — who is now his girlfriend — showed him a historic building in downtown New Braunfels. After getting what he described as a “punched-in-the-gut feeling,” Fortune bought the property.
Fortune and Smith spent the next two years restoring the Phoenix. “We ripped an inch-and-a half of plaster off that wall to expose the original bricks from 1871,” he said, with what appeared to be genuine awe. Even without the 139-year-old brick wall, the Phoenix Saloon wins in the authentic department. A jigsaw puzzle of pastel-colored beadboard covers the walls, a buffalo mount stands watch over the crowd, antique mirrors hang under a crystal chandelier, peanut shells crunch be
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