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Good Luck to Austin's Newest Bar

White Horse owners set to open new bar and live music venue on Cesar Chavez

White Horse in Austin
The new venue, tentatively called The Good Luck, will not be White Horse's "little brother." The White Horse/Facebook
El Leon
The new venue will take over El Leon, which shuttered in 2012. Courtesy of Courtesy of El Leon
Austin Photo Set: News_Arden_white horse_bar_Dec 2011_3
White Horse owner Denis O'Donell (left) is opening a new bar and venue on East Cesar Chavez. The White Horse/Facebook
White Horse in Austin
El Leon
Austin Photo Set: News_Arden_white horse_bar_Dec 2011_3

The owners of the White Horse are in final negotiations to open another bar in the rapidly developing East Cesar Chavez corridor. The new bar, tentatively called The Good Luck, is planning to open its doors in early December. It will take over the former El Leon space, the storied family-owned norteño bar that ran for more than 35 years before it closed in 2012. In the '50s, it was a honky-tonk. 

With wood-paneled walls and diamond-tufted upholstery, The Good Luck will be designed as a dark listening room with light coming only from the stage, candles on the table and the jukebox. “But it’s not going to be a place where it’s like, 'Shhhh the band’s playing!'” says White Horse owner Denis O’Donnell.

 Carefully designed to avoid being viewed as White Horse’s “little brother,” the Good Luck will have one act per night, making for a jazzier, more intimate feel.  

Carefully designed to avoid being viewed as White Horse’s “little brother," The Good Luck will feature one act per night, making for a jazzier, more intimate feel than the White Horse’s rollicking, dancing crowd.

As for O’Donnell, opening bars like the White Horse and The Good Luck is a family tradition. His grandfather owned a bar called O’Donnell’s in Astoria, Queens, where legend has it veteran crooner Tony Bennett got his big break.

As for music, expect to see singer/songwriter Ben Ballinger, Shakey Graves, Bob Hoffnar, Choctaw Wildfire, Silas Lowe, Jesse Moore and dueling pianos every Thursday featuring legendary pianists Earl Poole Ball and Charlie Pierce.

As far as booze, the Good Luck will be slinging barrel-aged cocktails from behind the bar, local craft beers poured through logo-less porcelain taps, wine selections, and, of course, Lone Star Beer. The Good Luck will also have a small food menu, including drunken clams boiled in beer, bread made with beer, tapas-like foodstuffs, cheese plates, homemade soups and other light food to share.

Though the lease won't be finalized until September 26, O’Donnell has a gut feeling that the deal will go through. The property is already permitted for liquor, and O’Donnell is planning a $150,000 investment to improve the property. Among those plans is building a large 2,200 square foot outdoor patio — larger than the building itself. O’Donnell says they’ve also leased the lot just to the west with plans for a shaded food truck park and a snow cone stand.

The Good Luck also plans on having one of the best jukeboxes in Austin. Glowing in the dark bar, The Good Luck will feature a classic 1950s Seeburg 200, a jukebox with the lines of a Chevy Bel-Air that manually grabs the record with its little arm and lowers that little needle down on some 60’s Kingston ska, old dancehall tunes, early soul digs, blues and deep country cuts.

“It’ll be like a little alien that came from outer space to teach us about music,” O’Donnell says.

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