End of an era

Iconic Austin restaurant blames 'boomtown property taxes' for impending closure

Iconic Austin restaurant blames 'boomtown taxes' for impending closure

Threadgill's Riverside
Threadgill's is closing its Riverside Drive location. Threadgill's/Facebook

An Austin icon is about to sing its swan song. In a statement, Threadgill’s World Headquarters owner Eddie Wilson says the Southern restaurant and live music venue at 301 W. Riverside Dr. will close in November.

Wilson cited increasing rent, spurred by ballooning property taxes, as the culprit. “Threadgill's has taken pride in hosting musicians from around the world and feeding folks home-cooked Southern food over the years, but unfortunately it's time for us to move on,” he said. “The boomtown property taxes are high as a skyscraper and we are a one-story mom-and-pop shop.”

The announcement comes less than a year after Wilson signed a short-term lease with landowner Moton Crockett after initially being unable to reach a deal. At the time, Wilson thought he was going to be forced to shutter in March 2018.

The news is a big blow to Austin. Although the Riverside location of Threadgill’s has only been around since 1996, it is steeped in the Capital City’s cultural history. The company started in 1970 as Armadillo World Headquarters, the legendary music hall that launched the cosmic cowboy movement in country music, and arguably the reason why Austin can now lay claim to the title of “Live Music Capital of the World.”

After closing the venue in 1980, Wilson shifted gears to open the first Threadgill’s “Old No. 1” at 6416 North Lamar Blvd. in 1981, serving a menu of classic comfort foods like chicken fried steak. The second location followed in 1996 and became a repository for memorabilia from Armadillo’s heyday. Since then, it has become an Austin favorite for its packed brunches and frequent live music.

In the announcement, Wilson said the original location and catering operation will remain open. And fans will have one more chance to visit the Riverside restaurant during Thanksgiving — an annual tradition for Austin’s holiday orphans. The last day of business will be November 30.