There has been quite a buzz surrounding Hole in the Wall lately. After news broke last week that Owner Will Tanner was concerned about the bar's future, Austinites were quick to defend the 41-year-old institution and blame the Big Bad Wolf of increased rent.
As growing real estate price tags have already ended the reigns of Holy Mountain and Red7, there is serious cause for concern here — but this tale of music venues versus landlords is a bit more complicated than Little Red Riding Hood.
Here's a rundown of everything we know right now about Hole in the Wall's situation:
Yes, rent is increasing
Tanner told The Austin Chronicle that rent at 2538 Guadalupe St. will be raised from $15,000 to $20,000 per month once the current lease expires in December. Tanner — who has owned Hole in the Wall for the past eight years — believes that the hike in price is too much to handle, and it could spell trouble for the bar that has been in operation since 1974.
Initial reports ran without comment from the property owners, but landlords Weitzman Group and Cencor Realty Services have provided commentary on the situation. According to an email sent out to news outlets, the landlords clarified their reason for the rent increase, citing the condition of the building. "Since the beginning, Will has continued to maintain that the business is a labor of love and it makes no money. This is further proven by the sales he reports to the TABC. Will is obligated in his lease to maintain the building. He has obviously done a poor job, and this obligation has been a major sticking point of the renewal along with several other violations," reads the statement.
Everyone is looking for a happy ending
And that means everyone — including the landlords. "Lines of communication with landlords are open and conversations are underway. The issue is still being worked on and several solutions are being considered," Tanner said in an official statement provided by Austin Music People. "We have always told Will that it is a priority for us to have this business stay," assured the landlords in their statement. Tanner told the Chronicle there is a "33 percent chance" that Hole In The Wall can survive, and that he is focusing efforts to stay in the space.
The petition won't help ...
Thousands of Austinites have already signed a petition to designate the Hole in the Wall as historically significant. Although the sentiment is nice, Tanner asserts that a historical designation will only complicate the matter. "While he is humbled and grateful for the support, he asks that people stop circulating and signing the petition for historic designation; it only serves to tie the hands of the landlord, and [it's] not really helping the club," Austin Music People explained.
... but Austin Music People can
The petition is now redirecting people to Austin Music People, a grassroots organization that assists with mediation, fundraising, and crowdsourcing efforts to keep Austin's music scene alive and well. Executive Director Jennifer Houlihan is working with Tanner directly to help him solidify a plan moving forward. "We don't have an agenda — the agenda of the member is the only one that matters. If they want to relocate, if they want to stay, if they want to close, we're on their side, whatever that may be," Houlihan tells CultureMap.
Here's what you can do
Swing by your favorite watering hole on the Drag, of course. For now, the best way to help is to keep checking out bands and drinking beers at Hole in the Wall. "The club is open for business! Please come, bring friends, and enjoy some great Austin music," reminded Tanner in the AMP statement.