Scholz Garten, located in downtown Austin at 1607 San Jacinto Boulevard, isn’t just the oldest restaurant in the city — originally opened by German immigrant August Scholz in 1866, the establishment is also the oldest continuously operated German biergarten in the country, now owned by German-Texan heritage organization Austin Saengerrunde.
But that doesn’t mean there’s no room left for improvement, which is why I was stoked to hear news earlier this year that the establishment would receive a revamped menu and other updates courtesy of the folks at downtown hot dog haunt Frank — along with some renovations to the space’s dining room and outdoor beer garden, which despite their charm were long overdue for some attention.
Since Scholz Garten is about as historic as they come, any changes have to get past the city’s Historic Landmark Commission, and new documents prepared for the commission’s November 14th meeting give us a first look at what’s in store, courtesy of architecture firm of record North Arrow Studio and design studio Kartwheel Craftsmanship, which is also acting as the project’s general contractor:
The documents filed with the commission focus on exterior improvements to the building and its outdoor beer garden, with major changes including the removal of non-historic awnings on the front and side of the original structure, the replacement of windows on the building’s eastern side, the planting of trees at the entrance, and the addition of a new 2-story restroom and stage structure facing the outdoor beer garden. We’re still not sure what’s in store for the building’s interior.
The plans include elevations of the proposed designs from all sides, each paired with a photograph of the building’s existing condition:
As you can see, the changes aren’t drastic. Hell, I’d even call them subtle. But that’s kind of the point — after more than 150 years, you wouldn’t want to muck with things too much.
Perhaps even more interesting than the plans are the historic photos of the site included with the landmark commission’s meeting documents.
To me, these images are a nice reminder that no matter what wonders the future may hold, the simple joy of drinking beer outdoors will endure long beyond any of our life spans. I’ll be sure to hoist a few liters of Franziskaner there once the work’s done. Prosit!