Hole in the Wall may be the next Austin music venue to disappear

Last night at Hole in the Wall. 6/30/02 Sunday night. Kelly West/American-Statesman. A line waits to get in.
Hole in the Wall. 2002 photo by Kelly West / American-Statesman

UPDATE: Scott Freid of Weitzman Group and Cencor Realty Services responded via email Friday afternoon to questions regarding Hole in the Wall’s lease. An excerpt:

“We have always told Will that it is a priority for us to have this business stay. We have told him this multiple times over the last year and sat down with him as recently as last week.

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.”

Check out our full story online at mystatesman.com and in Saturday’s American-Statesman.


Another long-running Austin music venue may be forced to close soon, faced with rising rents and a landlord’s shift in future plans. This time the club is Hole in the Wall, a University of Texas campus-area fixture on Guadalupe Street for more than four decades.

“I don’t want to overly dramatize it, but it looks like it’s a different version of the same story: The landlord wants more rent,” Hole in the Wall owner Will Tanner said Thursday. “It’s going to end up shutting down a 41-year-old music venue.”

Tanner says he spoke last week about the venue’s future with Scott Freid, city partner and head of the Austin office of the Weitzman Group and Cencor Realty Services, from whom Hole in the Wall leases the building. The venue’s current 10-year lease runs through Dec. 30.

“The bottom line is, they want more money,” Tanner said. A call to Freid Thursday afternoon was not immediately returned.

There’s no firm plan to close Hole in the Wall yet, but “I emailed my staff and said it doesn’t look like we’re going to be able to go forward,” Tanner said.

While he’d like to find a way to cover additional costs, Tanner says that Cencor “wouldn’t even tell me how much” the rent would be raised. “They wouldn’t really even talk to me for a whole year about it.”

Tanner said he became further concerned when a real estate acquaintance informed him three days after his meeting with Cencor that the building was being shopped to chain establishments. “It was really bad news to hear they’re pitching it to national tenants,” he said. “They’re actively looking to replace me and never even told me.”

Hole in the Wall opened in 1974 at 2538 Guadalupe Street, originally as a bar and restaurant. It gradually became one of the city’s most vital music venues, nurturing the early careers of well-known acts such as Nanci Griffith and Timbuk3. It continues today as one of Austin’s prime spots for developing bands to get started.

The bar has changed hands several times, most recently when Tanner bought it eight years ago after moving to Austin from El Paso, where he owns several businesses. He’s also a co-owner of the new east Austin bar and music venue Stay Gold.

Tanner says that while he wouldn’t rule out moving Hole in the Wall elsewhere if no plan is worked out for the venue to stay on Guadalupe Street, he’d be wary of relocation. “If it was a perfect spot, I would consider it,” he said. “I’d want to make sure that what I do honors its legacy.”

The situation appears similar to recent developments on Red River Street that resulted in last month’s shuttering of Red 7 (with its partners relocating to the new venue Sidewinder) and the impending closure of Holy Mountain at the end of this month.

“The only way a place like this works is if you own the dirt or you have a landlord who really gets it,” Tanner said. “And I have neither.”

[Note: The date of the venue’s lease expiration was corrected to Dec. 30 from Tanner’s initial statement of Jan. 30, 2016.]

Author: Peter Blackstock

Music writer for the Austin American-Statesman and austin360.com. Twitter: @Blackstock360

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