In November 2019, three friends opened two neighboring businesses at the corner of Menchaca Road and William Cannon Drive, located inside a renovated laundromat that the group split into two suites.
Debbie Mylius and Phil Harding launched Old School Liquor & Market. Mylius said the shop touts an eclectic collection of local liquor, wine, beer and food. Next door, Chris Blumentritt, Mylius’ boyfriend, opened his first small business, Cannon Coffee, a cozy cafe with a neighborhood feel.
Although the coronavirus pandemic emerged only five months into operation, Mylius said both stores have been able to connect with the local shoppers while promoting other community small businesses.
Old School Liquor & Market
Mylius and Harding partnered to open Proof Liquor & Deli in Buda more than five years ago. After moving to South Austin, Mylius approached Harding in 2019 about teaming up again for Old School Liquor.
“Debbie was a rock in our last business, and knowing how successful she’s been with Proof, joining was a no-brainer for me,” Harding said. “And, I like beer.”
While Harding is known as the company’s vice president and beer enthusiast, Mylius curates the liquor and wine collection, which includes products from Austin and Hill Country distilleries and wineries.
“I try to not stock a lot of the stuff that people get in grocery stores,” she said. “We’re a small business, so I like to support other small businesses and vineyards as well.”
While the local supply of booze, beers and wines makes their stock catch the eye, Mylius said Old School’s food also helps it stand out compared to other liquor stores in the area. The shop has a fridge filled with fresh, locally made dips, salsas, cheeses and meats to pair with its drinks. Small snacks including sandwiches, salads, sides and empanadas, are also available.
This year, Mylius launched her own dessert brand and sells it at the store’s counter to customers with a sweet tooth.
Harding said the store’s size, warm colors and natural light also make it more inviting than a traditional corner store and more personal than a liquor warehouse.
Although worried when the pandemic first hit, Mylius said being able to deliver orders to homes across South Austin helped get the Old School name out into the community, and many have returned to the store time and time again.
With a day job in the technology industry, Blumentritt said he spends a lot of time working from local coffee shops. When the old laundromat space became available for Mylius’ business, the extra space inside allowed his dream of one day owning a cafe to become a reality.
“It’s what I wanted,” he said. “It’s not anything too extravagant, but it’s a nice place for people to go.”
Cannon Coffee offers espresso classics and hot and cold brew coffees with a variety of roasts available for each. The shop also offers beans from local roasters, featuring Greater Goods Coffee Co., Cuvee Coffee, Wild Gift Coffee and Texas Coffee Traders.
“We’re offering higher-end coffees from local rosters and specialty coffee drinks,” Blumentritt said. “The idea was to feature local coffees and then rotating through those roasters so people have a choice and can explore.”
Local pastries and snacks are also offered. Vegan baked goods are provided by Mr. Natural, while Misty Morning Bakery supplies gluten-free options, Blumentritt said. Tacodeli breakfast tacos are on the menu on weekends.
Cannon Coffee is currently takeout only, but customers have returned over the summer.
“We have seen the volume picking up,” he said. “It has been a slow build and we’re seeing people from the neighborhood coming in and discovering us.”