Mike Farr, owner of The Nutty Brown Café and Amphitheater in South Austin, said there will be changes that come with the venue’s move to Round Rock—but not until spring 2019.
Farr initially projected the new venue would be ready to open in spring 2018, but after some delays in coordinating with the Texas Department of Transportation for roadway access and construction, he is now forecasting the opening will be a year later than expected.
Brad Wiseman, Round Rock Planning and Development Services director, said the city is still working on several things with Farr to coordinate a smooth transition from South Austin to Round Rock.
This list of pending tasks includes the actual sale of land to Nutty Brown (which Wiseman said has taken a longer than normal time due to Nutty Brown doing its due diligence), a change in zoning and issuing of several development permits. Wiseman estimated this work will be done within the next six months.
After the city does its part, TxDOT will begin work on an entrance to Nutty Brown off the I-35 frontage road. Wiseman said the city is also examining the need for a rear access road to the complex.
Farr said after the technical elements fall into place, he will work on the actual construction of the site. He hopes to break ground on the new Nutty Brown in March.
“The location in Round Rock, it will be a little different [than our current location], which presents a challenge,” Farr said. “The Nutty Brown that I’ve owned for the last 15 years, even when I bought it, was an old cinderblock building that had lots of add-ons. We had rusty metal fences, this amalgamation of concrete construction with wood siding and more cinderblock.”
The new location, Farr said, needs to replicate the same spirit of the current location in a brand new building.
Farr plans to do this by bringing in antiques to decorate the newly constructed building so it still maintains the same feeling.
“We will zealously play homage to the musical history, not just of Nutty Brown, but of Central Texas and Texas,” Farr said. “It will be decorated with many music-related memorabilia—it will be more of like if you build a brand new house and took all your stuff from your old crappy house and put it there.”
The facility will also be larger by about 50 percent and will offer a more sizeable standing room section and different menu of seating options. Currently the Nutty Brown location offers either standing room or VIP seating. At the new site, several tiers of seating options and VIP options will be offered.
Farr said when he purchased his original location 15 years ago he knew he would one day have to move.
“I bought it at the corner of Nutty Brown Road and Hwy. 290, and the highest and best use of that tract is not a live music venue,” Farr said.
H-E-B bought the Nutty Brown land, with several other acres, back in 2015.
Farr began looking for an alternative location, viewing properties in San Marcos and in the space near the border of Travis and Williamson counties, ultimately finding the former site of McNeil Park and making a bid for the land for $1.1 million.
“There is a pretty solid concentration of live music offerings between the south line of Austin and the north line of San Antonio. … It can be really competitive, and sometimes we cancel each other out,” Farr said. “When you look at Round Rock, and even though it is less than 40 miles on the other side of this Austin MSA, it allows me to draw from a totally different customer base and frees me up to work with other venues that I used to compete with.”