Why is Threadgill’s HQ closing?

I could never review restaurants for a living. First, I don’t know how many different adjectives I could come up with to describe how a dish tastes. Second, I would feel uncomfortable stating my tastes as anything other than mere tastes. Some people think Taco Bell is the best Mexican food on Earth. Who am I to tell them they’re wrong?

I think of that as I see that Laura Morrison is bemoaning the impending closure of Threadgills.

Morrison foes in the urbanist community were quick to ridicule the claim. Brendan Wittstruck accused the candidate of peddling Republican talking points. Dan Keshet said the following: “They don’t own the building. There’s no amount of tax cuts that’s gonna make a restaurant and a sea of parking able to pay rent on a $7m chunk of dirt in what’s essentially downtown.”

This was the response that resonated with me:

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I was introduced to Threadgill’s my second week in Austin because that was where the Austin Monitor folks got lunch during Council days. When I asked then-publisher Mike Kanin what was good, he replied: “It all tastes the same.” I guess I liked the free corn bread. But in a city full of taco stands that deliver delicious food at rock-bottom prices, paying $12 + tax and tip for meatloaf just doesn’t make sense to me.

That being said, I do appreciate Threadgill’s history and the powerful role it has played in Austin folklore. I never experienced it as a music venue, but my sense from eating in the restaurant and what others have told me about the history is that Threadgill’s embodied the intersection between traditional Texan culture and campus/rock n’ roll counter-culture. While many of the bars and restaurants popping up around town could be found in any other big city or college town, Threadgill’s is distinctly Austin. That should count for something.

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