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Elephant Room reopens after sinkhole forced its closure

The legendary Austin jazz club reopened Wednesday night after a sinkhole in an adjacent building forced it to close for 12 days.
Musicians play at The Elephant Room in downtown Austin.

AUSTIN - A legendary Austin jazz club reopened Wednesday night after a sinkhole in an adjacent building forced it to close for 12 days. 

Regulars like Joshua Schaeffer came to The Elephant Room as soon as the doors were open again. 

"I had to come here as soon as they opened again just to show my support, just to give them back a little tiny bit of love," Schaeffer said. "The music is bar none. I can tell you that on any given day of the week, the best musicians in Austin will be playing here."

Although The Elephant Room sits underneath Congress Avenue, after 25 years it's no secret. In fact, it's an icon and it may be the longest running jazz club in Texas history. 

"This is important to Austin and important to the state of Texas. And it would have been a real heartbreaker for it to go out by the building falling down," said The Elephant's booking agent Michael Mordecai.

That was the fear for 12 days, when the sinkhole put the club's future in jeopardy. The October floods caused the hole in an adjacent building, forcing The Elephant Room to close for the first time since it opened in 1991. 

"They've had music every day, 365 or 366 days a year since they opened on January 21st," Mordecai said. 

Construction crews, engineers and city inspectors immediately got to work.

"They've been working 24/7. Literally 24/7 since they figured out the game plan," he explained. 

They had to dig an eight foot trench to see just how deep the hole went. It's now filled and covered with black carpet. 

"We had to basically swing on a rope to get across to the stairs over there," Mordecai said with a laugh.

This Thanksgiving Eve it's good news. With the building in tact, the jazz plays on.

"I think that it really jolted everyone. As we move into Thanksgiving, I think everybody realized how thankful we are to have a jazz club of this caliber down here in this little basement in Austin, Texas."

The big 25th anniversary celebration is in January.The Elephant Room will have a week of music and special guests. 

The sinkhole also forced the restaurant upstairs, Swift's Attic, to close temporarily. They opened back up this week as well.