UPDATE: Brandon Testa tells CultureMap that he decided to close Craftsman after receiving multiple unsolicited offers to lease the space. Although he will retain ownership of the property, a team of "seasoned bar operators" will introduce a new concept at the address in the coming months.
Although the Austin restaurant scene has had a tough go of it the last several years, the bar scene has remained relatively healthy. The east side dive bar scene has seemed especially impervious to the city’s hospitality whims.
That may be starting to change.
Popular East Cesar Chavez Street watering hotel The Craftsman has quietly shuttered, simply placing a sign on the door that reads, in part, “Craftsman has served its last drink.”
Though CultureMap was able to confirm the closure, further details were not immediately available. The Craftsman’s Facebook page has been deleted, and the last Instagram post was on July 18. A tagged post appeared July 27, but there does not appear to be any social media traffic since then.
Industry vet Brandon Testa opened The Craftsman in April 2015 after attempts to open a separate concept on East Sixth Street soured. The name was borrowed from its location, a 1920s-era house with a graceful wraparound porch.
The concept fit right in to the streets then-developing entertainment hub pioneered by Drinks Lounge and Stay Gold. Like those concepts, it had a food truck on-site and combined a dive bar atmosphere with craft cocktails and craft beer. In January 2018, it added a tiki bar named Tiki Bar, further increasing the options — and focus.
All that, however, might not have been enough to make the bar profitable. East Austin property taxes have continue to rise sharply with a 12-percent rise over the past year, according to the Travis Central Appraisal District.
CultureMap has reached out to Testa and will update this story if he responds.