Kenneth Threadgill stood in line all night to be the first person in Travis County to get a beer license. It was 1933, and the bootlegger and country-music connoisseur had plans to evolve his filling station into something bigger—though even Threadgill probably couldn't have anticipated how big it would become.
It started with touring musicians stopping in for drinks after their shows. By the ’60s, Janis Joplin was on stage, polishing her unpolished sound for crowds from all walks of life. The evolution continued, with Threadgill's hosting artists from Jerry Lee Lewis to Captain Beefheart and expanding into a Southern-style restaurant where the love of music ironed out disagreements and engendered an atmosphere of tolerance.
Today, the original location on North Lamar harks back to Threadgill's beginnings, with current owner Eddie Wilson decking the place out with decor that evokes the Austin of the 1930s to the 1960s, including vintage signs that say, “I can’t wait for the internet to be invented.” The second location on West Riverside celebrates the 1970s music scene that thrived at the Armadillo—Wilson's former establishment at that location. At both venues, chefs churn out classic Southern food, such as chicken-fried steak and fried green tomatoes, while frequent live music entertains guests.