My story about the Saxon Pub posted to Austin Monthly

3 Jun

New Beginnings - Austin Monthly - June 2015 - Austin, TXSince opening a quarter century ago, the Saxon Pub has served as a launching point for some of Austin’s finest musicians, from legends like Steven Fromholz and Rusty Wier to current favorites Bob Schneider (pictured) and Hayes Carll, to name just a few. Yet the venue has outgrown its roots, says proprietor Joe Ables, who intends to open a second location in an industrial area south of Ben White Boulevard on South Congress Avenue in the next two years.

The move is like a flashback to the past: When the Saxon opened on June 8, 1990, it was situated amid vacant lots and helped establish the 78704 neighborhood as its own entertainment district. Today, Ables feels the squeeze of new construction, dicey parking and a lease that expires in 2020, so his plan is to construct a $4-$8 million two-story multi-user venue adjacent to the $120 million St. Elmo Market development in an overlooked neighborhood near St. Elmo Street and South Congress. “It would be crazy of me if I don’t explore this fantastic chance to build a larger, better Saxon Pub for fans and our music family,” he says. (Ables plans to renew the lease on the South Lamar building and turn it into something else.)

While the large-scale St. Elmo complex will have a boutique hotel, condos, a 50,000-square-foot market and 200,000 square feet of creative office space, the new Saxon will feature a restaurant and theater for concerts and film screenings. Brandon Bolin, CEO of GroundFloor Development, the investors behind St. Elmo Market, describes the music venue as “the front door for the St. Elmo project.” Fans of Bob Schneider’s Monday night residency can rest easy—he’ll still have his regular weekly gig in the new space.

Moving forward is also a time for reflection. In that spirit, a yet-to-be-titled documentary about the venue will be released later this year, says Ables, who at 62 feels excited at the prospect of finally becoming a landowner. “It’s one of those things that I ask myself, ‘do I really want to do this at this age?,’” he says. “I do. I feel pretty young; I still feel good.”

Please see my article posted on Austin Monthly at: http://www.austinmonthly.com/AM/June-2015/New-Beginnings/

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