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Dancing About Architecture: April 19, 2002

By Ken Lieck

Our Ears Are Burning, Love

[...] Once in a while, The National Enquirer will phone me about some local celebrity sighting, but this is the first time I've ever "inspired" a story in the tabloid! A feature in the current issue, "Courtney Love Flies Out of Control," notes that "Courtney was in Texas to give a speech at [SXSW] and was put up at the luxurious Four Seasons Hotel. But despite the celebrity treatment, things got off to a bad start and then got worse. When Courtney arrived in town there was an inflammatory story about her in the local press and it totally enraged her." Hey, all I did was recount my meeting with her at Emo's after a Lollapalooza show! The tab goes on to attribute my comments with setting the ball rolling that led to her spending 20 minutes locked in the men's room at the Hole in the Wall. It credits that night's excesses with her resultant fuzzy speech at her SXSW interview, as well as the prize moment when upon leaving Austin, she "passed out during a flight to Dallas, Texas, and was so out of it when her jet landed, she needed a wheelchair to get off the plane!" [...]

To Read the Enquirer Article Click Here

Dancing About Architecture: A Hole Lot of Trouble

By Ken Lieck

[...] Is the Hole in the Wall next? Fact is, it could be, since Knight Real Estate, the company that owns the building, has set its sights on selling the entire lot where the Hole has resided lo these 20-some years. The going price, for anyone interested, is $972,000, but for that price you get the Hole property, including the Aztec Screen Printing building behind the club, the parking lot, etc. Unfortunately for prospective buyers (and fortunately for the Hole), the club's co-owner Mike White says that according to his research, when you consider the poor shape of the buildings on the lot, there are many far better places in Austin for a Starbucks (for instance) to want to jump in. During the boom, that didn't seem to matter, but currently, it may make a huge difference. "We'd love to raise the money to purchase it," says partner Debbie Rombach, "however, in the event we must relocate, we'll need to raise the money for that as well." She adds that the owners "always said if anyone came up and was interested, they'd sell" the property, but Knight's erecting a large "For Sale" sign on the building on Nov. 16 indicates that the company has taken a distinctly more serious interest in unloading the property. There's a Greezy Wheels reunion coming up on Dec. 14 to benefit the club, as well as an entire week of "Help Us Raise a Million Bucks" gigs planned for mid-January, but those alone, needless to say, aren't likely to bring in anywhere close to $972,000. "We're just going on a day to day basis -- that's all we can do," says White, though month-to-month might be a more accurate term, as the Hole's latest six-month lease expires in January and is likely to only be renewed one month at a time from now on.

Daily Texan: Drag institutions deal with changes, challenges

By Patrick Badgley (Daily Texan Staff)

December 10, 2001 - Mike White, accountant and business manager of Hole in the Wall on the Drag, says a purchase of the restaurant and bar could mean a hole in Austin.

White's fear of someone buying the restaurant and the lot on which it sits stems from a Knight Real Estate sign on the building giving the real estate company's phone number for those seeking information on purchasing the property.

"Austin in general will lose something that's been here since '74," White said, later adding, "We have an eclectic crowd and a lot of music."

The going price for the lot is $972,000, which White says is probably too high for the somewhat run-down building. He estimated the actual cost to be not much more than a half-million dollars.

"I personally think it will be too high a price - unless Starbucks decides they need another location down here," White said.

Jamie Knight, an associate at Knight Real Estate, said while some parties have called about the property, there have not yet been any sustained cases of interest. He said people with several different interests in the property have called, including retailers and real estate investors who are interested in the location of the property.

Still, he said that based on his research, the lot is worth "somewhere in that neighborhood."

"The building is definitely not in prime-time condition," Knight said. "It's got great location."

Knight also said the $972,000 asking price is "just that," meaning the price for which the lot could be sold is not set.

White said the restaurant is planning to hold a fund-raiser from Jan.13 to Jan. 19, called "Keep a whole lot of the Hole," that would showcase several musicians who have played at the Hole in years past. The money would go toward paying for the building or saving up for a new location if the bar would have to move.

"We're looking around, but moving a place that's been here for 30 years is really hard," White said.

White also said some who frequent the bar have talked about helping out in some way.

Whatever the case, White guessed that the place would most likely stay put at least until June. The Hole's new six-month lease, he said, will begin in January if no one swoops in to cut a deal and buy the property before then. [...]

Austin Chronicle: Live Music Venue Guide:

By Christopher Hess

The Hole in the Wall has always been here and isn't going anywhere. It's a classic wood-paneled storefront dive, fixed at the upper reaches of the Drag at 26th and Guadalupe, that has provided grounds fit for stomping to some of Austin's greatest musical acts -- from singer-songwriters to punk rockers. This live music venue, in the same way as Antone's and the Broken Spoke, is a keystone in the foundation of the Austin music scene.

The Hole has been around since the summer of 1974, and just this past August was bought by longtime employee and talent buyer Debbie Rombach. The main room is small, dispersing about half the building's 194-person capacity between barstools, tables, and much scattered standing room. Considering the bands that regularly play the Hole -- bands like the Pocket FishRmen, Bigfoot Chester, Slobberbone, and the Orange Mothers -- the main room is also loud. There's a back room full of pool tables and video games that offers some respite if the noise or the crowd gets too thick, but you've paid your $3, and you're there to rock, so the best plan is to stake out your space and hang on to it for the duration.

In addition to the shows scheduled from week to week, a couple of regular Hole in the Wall gigs are fast becoming local institutions in themselves. On Sunday nights, the Rock & Roll Free-for-All -- so called because there's never a cover -- offers a rotating lineup of anywhere from four to eight local bands. Superego, mainstay of the lineup and musical vehicle for event organizer Paul Minor, lays claim to one of the most solid weekly gigs in Austin as Free-for-All headliners. For those with hangovers from the night previous, Mondays at the Hole feature "Unplug This," an acoustic forum for local musicians to strut their stuff in a quieter setting.

What makes the Hole home for so many fans of live music is the same thing that makes it home (in a more consistent sense) for the droves of regulars who occupy the barstools most of the day and well into the night; it's a comfortable, friendly joint where you can say what you want and drink what you want and hear some good conversation and great music for a small amount of dough.

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