Local musician saves popular saloon

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by QUITA CULPEPPER / KVUE News and photojournalist SCOTT MCKENNEY

kvue.com

Posted on October 10, 2013 at 11:46 AM

Updated Friday, Oct 11 at 6:44 PM

AUSTIN -- A bar shut down over the summer may be making a comeback next month.

An Austin musician is stepping up to save Ginny's Little Longhorn Saloon on Burnet Road. Musician Dale Watson and his partners bought the business. He wants to reopen it  Nov. 3.

For many years, the bar on Burnet Road has been serving up beer, and bands. On Sundays they are known for hosting a game called “chicken *&#$ bingo.”

Watson says the bar will keep its name. Ginny will still run the place.

"We're just trying to keep a piece of old Austin alive while we still can," Watson said.

When Ginny Kalmbach, the current owner, was forced to retire earlier than expected, Watson stepped in to help save the bar.

“It's been a grocery store. It's been a beauty shop. Off and on it's been a beer joint,” said Watson. “I'm trying to keep an Austin tradition alive. I've saved a lot in the investment, by the community helping me out. From the labor to the materials, just refurbishing the inside. Some friends have chipped in.”

The inside is being gutted while electrical and plumbing systems are being updated. A new window now faces the street.

Stella the chicken is even getting a new bingo cage.

A few more surprises will welcome patrons back when Ginny’s reopens.

“The ladies said ‘fix the ladies bathroom.’ So we did that,” Watson said. “So the ladies will be very happy.”

Watson and his band have played at Ginny's since 1993.

He says buying it will ensure roots music has a place to call home in North Austin.

"It's going to be honky-tonk, rockabilly outlaw, and western swing,” Watson said.

And on Sundays, Ginny will still be there to watch over the bar that bears her name.

“We talked her into a soft retirement. So she'll be at the bar every Sunday for chicken *&#$ bingo,” Watson said.

Watson hopes to hold a grand reopening on November 3rd. He says they're waiting for licenses and permits from the city to come in. After permitting comes through, final work on the bar's interior can be finished.

Click the player below for video of Watson performing at Ginny's. (Courtesy: Chumbe Salinas)

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