After 39 years, Threadgill’s, an Austin institution, permanently closes due to coronavirus

After almost 40 years, Threadgill’s, an icon of Austin’s music culture, has permanently closed due to the financial stranglehold placed on the restaurant and the economy at large by the coronavirus and measures to mitigate its spread.

Owner Eddie Wilson confirmed the permanent shutdown of his Southern-style restaurant and music venue to Community Impact Newspaper on April 20. The venue and restaurant, at 6416 N. Lamar Blvd., had plans to open back up after the government lifted its prohibition on dine-in service, but Wilson said the financial pressure grew too heavy. He said he would not have been able to receive enough reopening assistance “to do what we needed to do for our employees,” of which Wilson said there were 40-50.

Wilson said he and his wife, Sandra, are doing fine considering what she called the “heartbreaking” news.

“I’m kind of like an old punching bag; I’ve got my soft spots,” Wilson said. “This is not too terribly dissimilar to experiences I’ve had in the past, but I’ve never been this old before. I guess I was a little more bounce-back resilient when I was in my 30s than I am in my 70s.”

Wilson said he is working with Scott Carr, the president of the local Carr Development Inc., to sell the property, which is valued at $3.5 million, according to the Travis Central Appraisal District. Wilson is also planning to auction much of the music and Texas memorabilia that lined the walls of Threadgill’s.


Threadgill’s opened at its North Lamar location on New Year’s Eve in 1981. Exactly one year prior, Wilson closed the book on Armadillo World Headquarters, another historic venue embedded into the spirit of Austin’s music culture and history. In 1996, Wilson opened Threadgill’s World Headquarters in South Austin.

Before the coronavirus arrived, Wilson was already facing financial pressure from Austin’s skyrocketing property values and overwhelming increases in property taxes. In 2018, after losing a bid to open a Threadgill’s at the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, Wilson closed the South Austin location.

One to look on the bright side, Wilson said if it was not for the “bad news” he would not have been receiving calls all day from people “saying nice stuff about [him].”

“I’d rather hear about all this nice stuff now than wait until I’m in the ground,” Wilson said. “It’s kind of like living your own movie here.”

As for a eulogy on the historic 40-year run at Threadgill’s, Wilson said it would take some time for the news to really settle in. Wilson said if they are able to sell the property and have a successful auction, it would mean retirement—something he never considered for any point in his life. He said retirement would give him time to finish his second book—a collection of old Austin stories he is calling "I Ain’t Caught the Possum Yet."
By Christopher Neely
Christopher Neely is Community Impact's Austin City Hall reporter. A New Jersey native, Christopher moved to Austin in 2016 following years of community reporting along the Jersey Shore. His bylines have appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Baltimore Sun, USA Today and several other local outlets along the east coast.


MOST RECENT

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and U.S. Food and Drug Administration recommended health providers pause distribution of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine April 13. (Olivia Aldridge/Community Impact Newspaper)
State, federal health authorities recommend pause of Johnson & Johnson vaccine after 6 rare, severe blood clots

Hub providers in Dallas, Harris and Travis counties have all announced they will follow the recommendations and pause distribution of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

Recipients of the COVID-19 vaccine wait after receiving their shot at the Delco Activity Center in Northeast Austin on March 13. (Jack Flagler/Community Impact Newspaper)
National supply issues with Johnson & Johnson vaccine affect Austin-area shipments

After a manufacturing error ruined 15 million doses, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the supply will not increase until the plant in Baltimore is once again allowed to participate in production.

Romeo's Pizza held its Georgetown groundbreaking April 6. (Courtesy Romeo's Pizza)
Romeo's Pizza coming to Georgetown; Vacancy Brewing opens in South Austin and more Central Texas news

Read the latest business and community news from the Central Texas area.

Photo of a Moderna vaccine vial
Austin Public Health coronavirus vaccine portal opens to all adults April 12

APH will continue outreach efforts to high-priority groups.

Austin Public Health holds a vaccination clinic at the Delco Activity Center in Northeast Austin. (Jack Flagler/Community Impact Newspaper)
Coronavirus updates from Austin, Travis County; governor bans 'vaccine passports' and more top Central Texas news

Read the most popular business and community news from the past week from Central Texas.

Tavel Bristol-Joseph has started a scholarship fund that will provide $6,000 to two Austin Community College Culinary Arts students and give them opportunity to be mentored by Bristol-Joseph and to stage at one of the Emmer & Rye group's five restaurants. (Courtesy Emmer & Rye)
Austin chef starts scholarship and mentorship program for Austin Community College students

Tavel Bristol-Joseph started the scholarship fund, which will provide $6,000 to two ACC students and give them the opportunity to stage at one of the Emmer & Rye group's five restaurants.

Snow and ice cover the pond on the southeastern side of the Mueller development in East Austin in February. (Jack Flagler/Community Impact Newspaper)
After winter storm, Austin puts together a plan for better temporary shelters

The locations, which could be schools, libraries or recreation centers, would be disconnected from traditional infrastructure and be able to sustain operations if the city were to experience widespread power or water outages.

Austin ISD is holding community conversation sessions April 12-May 6. (Nicholas Cicale/Community Impact Newspaper)
Austin ISD community conversation sessions continuing through May 6

The series offers AISD families an opportunity to learn about the district’s strategic plan and ongoing budget planning.

Photo of a spread of fancy food
Lutie's Garden Restaurant now open at Commodore Perry Estate

The restuarant features "Texas heritage fare" by an award-winning husband-and-wife pair of chefs.

A resident at EdenHill Communities receives their second dose of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine. (Lauren Canterberry/Community Impact Newspaper)
Amid the struggle to get vaccinated, these Austin moms have helped over 3,900 people get appointments

The women volunteer their time searching for hard-to-find time slots that often become available in the middle of the night.