Another End of an Era: Nau's Enfield Drug Is Closing

The soda shop and pharmacy has been struggling for years

Photo by Melanie Haupt

On Tuesday, photos began circulating on social media of a “Store Closing/Everything Must Go!” sign draped across the storefront of Nau’s Enfield Drug.

Cue much wailing and rending of garments, despite the fact that the iconic restaurant, known for its top-notch diner burgers and creamy milkshakes, has been closed since 2019 due to labor shortages followed by a pandemic.

Absent the burger trade, the drugstore, which opened in Clarksville in 1951, has been unable to sustain itself, especially in light of supply chain issues. Rumors have circulated that MML Hospitality had bought the building, but Larry McGuire put those claims to rest this morning, writing in an email, “We were trying to buy the building and preserve Nau’s but lost out in the bidding. Very sad to see Nau’s closing.”

Pharmacist Lambert Labay purchased Nau’s in 1971, and the space functioned, essentially, as a time capsule. While the front half of the shop was dedicated to the drugstore operation, including a pharmacy counter and a shop dedicated to various sundries, the back half of the room served as the iconic soda fountain and lunch counter. Diners could scooch into utilitarian booths and watch workers prepare their milkshakes and burgers (a proposition that frequently tested the boundaries of the one-hour lunch). The menu was the same in 2019 as it was in 1951, with a few “trendy” additions like breakfast tacos and a veggie burger.

The neighborhood soda fountain was a cornerstone of mid-century American culture, and Nau’s was a special holdout as a public space where neighbors could socialize, dine together, and get copies of important documents made. It persisted in serving its neighborhood consistently (until its later years) as the New Austin sprang up around it, and won in its day a staggering 19 "Best of Austin" Awards.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

READ MORE
More by Melanie Haupt
Talkin’ Chicken With Jacques Pépin at the Texas Book Festival
Talkin’ Chicken With Jacques Pépin at the Texas Book Festival
The revered culinarian’s new book showcases his paintings and stories of poultry

Nov. 4, 2022

Resurrecting Recipes of Austin Restaurants Past
Resurrecting Recipes of Austin Restaurants Past
Eldorado owner Joel Fried brings dearly departed dishes back to life

Oct. 28, 2022

KEYWORDS FOR THIS POST

Nau's, Clarksville, Lambert Labay, Nau's Enfield Drug

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
NEWSLETTERS
One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Behind the scenes at The Austin Chronicle

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle