Faster Than Sound: Former Spider House Cafe Has Reopened as Tweedy's
Run by the patio experts behind Kinda Tropical and Hotel Vegas
Johnny Yaklin was at a team meeting for Eastside hangout Kinda Tropical when he got the call that the former Spider House Cafe building was available. Also co-founder of the 13th Floor bar's original location, Yaklin recalls: "When I came back to the table, I was like afraid to say it out loud, because I knew that these guys immediately were going to be like, 'We're doing that.'"
Two weeks later, Yaklin took over the lease with the Tropical management team of Hotel Vegas' Jason McNeely and Brian Tweedy, along with Yellow Jacket Social Club's Amy Mullins and Shannon LeBoeuf. After a year of work on the circa-1995 campus-area hangout, with an eye toward restoration rather than major overhaul, the team of Austin patio experts soft-opened two weeks ago. The new bar at 2908 Fruth is called Tweedy's.
Ahead of the space's official opening, temporary hours are Monday through Friday, 6pm–2am, and Saturday and Sunday, 3pm–2am.
"We jumped on it," says Mullins. "We were scared some other group would get it and turn it into a really slick kind of thing, and that's not what Austin needs. We wanted to elevate it, but not make it too different."
The spruced-up building retains the dark wood shiplap interior, whereas an extended new bar top opens up the former kitchen area. Alongside beers on tap and a to-be-launched wine and cocktail menu, bites will be provided by the food truck Golden Tiger – which plans to set up this week in the large outdoor patio. Zucchini Kill Bakery and Hello Friend Tattoo already opened in the renovated back building.
"We've all been around town a minute and have our own personal histories with the old Spider House," says Yaklin. "In general, what we want to do is honor the old space, be here for the students, be here for the neighborhood, and also create a new culture space that's very similar to what it was before – just without the asbestos in the roof."
A new wooden fence runs around the property, cutting off access to neighboring music venue the Ballroom's outdoor stage. With separate Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission licenses not allowing back-and-forth traffic with drinks, Tweedy's operates apart from the Ballroom (formerly Spider House Ballroom) at 2906 Fruth, which reopened last year under new ownership of Arlo's owner Chris Baker.
Tweedy's property at 2908 Fruth was purchased by major Austin landowner Jimmy Nassour in February 2021. The sale followed turbulence within Spider House's founding ownership of Conrad Bejarano and John Dorgan. A 2018 Chronicle cover story detailed alleged sexual misconduct by Dorgan, who later sued the accusing former employee and Bejarano for libel and slander.
With new management holding on to longtime status as a daytime hub for UT-Austin students, Tweedy's plans to eventually open daily from 11am to 2am with coffee and tea offerings. For anyone concerned with the lack of tchotchkes on the patio, Yaklin says the team intends to revive the outdoor area's funky reputation. He says Bejarano had already cleared the space after closing during the pandemic.
"That's part of the duty of keeping this space going," says Yaklin. "We're definitely here for the West Campus culture and the history of that – we don't want to deny [students] access to that safe space to study and kill a whole afternoon, last minute getting a paper together. Those are the memories people have of this place."
Mullins says: "We just want everyone to feel welcome and part of the community." They plan to eventually reintroduce events like trivia night. While Tweedy's won't operate with a regular concert calendar, the bar plans to incorporate musical programming in line with the space's history. They'll start with bands playing inside at a grand opening in coming weeks – surrounded by new decor of vintage Austin concert posters, as well as a blown-up photo of the Velvet Underground's Sterling Morrison exiting former Guadalupe punk club Raul's (shot by David C. Fox).
The new bar represents a homecoming for McNeely and Tweedy, who helped build the Fruth Street lot's musical status and formerly managed the cafe. The duo developed their early booking talents next door in the disco-ball-adorned ballroom, launched as United States Art Authority and later known as 29th Street Ballroom. Both left in 2012 to run Hotel Vegas, later expanding to Barracuda, and now Chess Club.
"We're just the current stewards of the space," says McNeely, stopping by during the interview.
Yaklin remembers: "When Jason and Brian were managing it in the Aughts, I was here the most because that was the most activated, fun era of it. So, it's coming full circle." Among the five-person co-owner team, Tweedy earns namesake as the only native Austinite, as well as the only bar-runner with kids. They also all agreed that it just made the best dive bar name.
"We do a lot of this stuff, labor of love, trying to keep Austin Austin-y," says Yaklin. "We've had so much success doing things the way we do them – which is this crash-and-burn, 100-hour-weeks, bust-our-ass style – that we're keeping it going. We're a team now. We'll probably do something else, at some point."
"For me, it's always about the space," adds Mullins. "It's not like, 'Hey, I want to open a new bar.' If an amazing space opens up, you just see something in it."
C3-Backed Superstition Nightclub to Open at Riverside & South Congress
The long-empty site of former male strip club La Bare, which vacated in 2007, will reopen as a new nightclub called Superstition. According to a press release last week, the 12,000-square-foot club will host "DJs and live performances, with elevated bottle service and exclusive VIP spaces in the largest dance club in central Austin." Alongside a Seventies theme seen in social media promo, the club will also house a smaller cocktail lounge and patio called the Gold Room.
The gray building at 110 East Riverside, which previously displayed a mural teasing Rolling Stones dates in 2020, housed various past businesses including a second iteration of the popular Sixth Street venue Steamboat, Sidekicks Nightclub, Escape Club, Club XS, Sundowner, and Bad Dog Comedy Theater. Finding backing from prominent names in Austin entertainment, the space has now been leased by NoCo Hospitality, of Downtown bar Higher Ground and new Eastside Skinny's Off Track Bar.
The group is run by Charles Ferraro (co-owner of Hotel Vegas, Volstead Lounge, and LoLo) and Paolo Soriano (co-owner of Rainey's Reina). The project also finds funding from Elevate Development Partners and C3 Presents, which will exclusively book the club under leadership of Bobby Clay. The talent booker previously told news site Axios the new venue will specialize in electronic music.
The press release doesn't specify an opening date, but suggests the venue will be ready to preview this year. Alongside Superstition, ACL Fest-makers C3 Presents also recently announced a new two-day festival called Two Step Inn in Georgetown, Texas, following this year's launch of FORMAT Festival in Arkansas.