Donn's Depot, a dive bar on West 5th Street that opened in 1972, is fielding donations from customers who want to ensure that the local business remains open long past the pandemic.
"The response that we got was wildfire," bartender Michelle Beebe told Austonia, adding that the team is "humbled" by the outpouring of support.
Longtime customer Rene Britt organized an email campaign to help support the Depot, with a goal of getting 250 supporters to pledge $50 a month to help cover overhead costs. The bar posted her request on its Facebook page last Friday, where it was shared more than 200 times.
"They were proactive and received a [Paycheck Protection Program] loan, but that money runs out this month," Britt wrote in the post. "As many of you know, they were open for a very short time at 50% capacity, but with all the precautions and extra costs they were losing money daily."
Depot owner Donn Adelman has been a fixture of the local music scene since the early 1960s and, until the pandemic led to the temporary closure of the bar, performed live each week.
"All of our customers are waiting with bated breath [for us to reopen]," Adelman said.
But the PPP loan that the bar received in May is nearly used up, while monthly bills—for rent, utilities, insurance and repairs—continue to arrive.
The fundraisers, however, allow the business to "keep our doors actually locked but pay our bills and be in a position where we can open, hopefully in the near future," Adelman said in a video that the Depot posted on Facebook this past weekend. "We hope that we can keep on going forever and ever and ever."
In addition to Britt's effort to rally pledges, KOOP radio host Maraim Parker started a GoFundMe to "Keep Magical Honky-Tonk Donn's Depot Open." Since Parker launched the fundraiser on Saturday, it has raised more than $19,000 from 257 donors, with a goal of $50,000.
"I don't know about y'all but I will need many nights at Donn's when this is all over," Parker wrote on the site.
James Moody, owner of the Red River music venue Mohawk, shared the GoFundMe campaign on his Instagram account over the weekend. "Places like this cannot be replaced 'after a vaccine,'" he wrote. "They are the heart and soul of our city, and unfortunately many are dropping like flies right now with more to come."
Numerous other local businesses have closed permanently since COVID first arrived in Austin, including Magnolia Cafe's Lake Austin location, B. D. Riley's downtown location, Threadgill's, Fricano's Deli, Blue Dahlia, Yuyo, Shady Grove, Cafe Josie, Be More Pacific and Dart Bowl.
Donn's Depot reopened briefly in mid-June at half capacity, with a temperature checkpoint and table service only, but when COVID-19 cases began to surge across Texas, Gov. Greg Abbott ordered bars to shut down.
The state of Texas now allows bars that project to earn 51% of their revenue from food sales to reopen. The Depot is considering taking steps to reach that threshold—although Beebe said "at this point it's not really feasible"—and considering other options that might allow it to reopen.
In the meantime, the bar continues to live stream performances from its regular acts, with all donations and tips received going to the Depot Stay Alive Fund. Britt's husband, Danny, performs each week with his band, as do Frank Cavitt & The Honky Tonk Doctors and Chris Gage, occasionally accompanied by his wife Christine Albert.
"One of our musicians is here right now setting up for a [live] stream for tomorrow night," Adelman said around midday on Monday. "They've been keeping the Depot alive."
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Austin FC couldn't find the stamina to fight off a 2-0 loss against LAFC for their inaugural match on Saturday.
The match, which saw No. 21 Austin FC go head-to-head with No. 2 LAFC in Los Angeles, was broadcast nationally on FOX and FOX Deportes.
Salute the support. 👏
It's only the beginning for @AustinFC. pic.twitter.com/TduorqYr2y
— Major League Soccer (@MLS) April 18, 2021
Eleven players took the stage as Austin FC players for the first time, with five starters making their MLS debut. "Ringleader" Alex Ring took the captain's armband and wore it well. The defensive midfielder could be seen leading his teammates through their first ever match, but it wasn't enough to stage an Austin takeover in LA.
In the signature style of Head Coach Josh Wolff, the team played with quickness and intensity, nearly connecting on several fast breaks. It was harder for them to stay in front, however, something that Wolff credits with quick decision making and a tough LAFC defense.
"We have a quick attacking team, but I think when you make quick attacks and it fizzles it's just about some decision making," Wolff said. "Are we in position to finish attacks? If not, can we reestablish our attack and get stuff better?"
The club was given some generous breaks from No. 2 LAFC, who had one or both of their star DPs out for the half. While forward Diego Rossi is out for the entire match due to a hamstring injury, Carlos Vela was accidentally pulled too soon on what turned out to be a miscommunication.
"He gave us the sign that he needed to come off," LAFC Head Coach Bob Bradley said on broadcast. "I can't say more than maybe it's my fault."
LA pulled some dramatics and slowly gained more possession throughout the half, but ATXFC's defense wasn't initially as shaky as it seemed in preseason. Jhohan Romana has pulled his weight in getting the ball out of goal, and a 34-year old Matt Besler held his own in center back.
As the second half commenced, however, it became clear that LAFC had the advantage over Austin's first major league team.
Goalkeeper Brad Stuver had his work cut out for him, fending off 24 shot attempts, 11 of which were on goal. He didn't have much time to prepare, either: in the first 30 seconds of play, Stuver had already made a save to keep the match 0-0.
LAFC finally connected in the 61st minute of play as Corey Baird shot one into the bottom right corner. The team capitalized off their momentum and put one past Stuver a second time, drawing roars of approval from the LAFC crowd.
While some last-minute attempts from Jon Gallagher and others were made, Austin FC didn't have the endurance to bring a tie. After seven additional minutes of stoppage time, the club lost their first match 2-0.
While the scoreboard tells one story, Wolff said that the team did well considering the skill of LAFC and the pressure of their club debut.
"We've got to be realistic," Wolff said. "This is the first time this organization has been in front of TV with an opportunity to show itself and I think there were some promising moments. And we're going to maximize those and continue to try to develop those, but there's lots to build on."
The team may have lost, but it still won the support of thousands of Verde fans, dozens of which made it to watch their team's first match. When Stuver and the team made it to bthe stadium, Los Verdes fans were already there to show support, and Stuver said his wife saw the same back in Austin.
"The moment that we pulled into the stadium, we saw Black and Verde fans cheering us on as we got to the stadium," Stuver said. "During warm up, you can just look around and see different groups sitting in different sections of the stadium and it's just truly amazing to see the support in our first game. We know that we want to give the fans everything, because this we play for the city and we play for them."