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New Rainey Street Bar Opens During SXSW, Taking Advantage of Festival Crowds

Stagger Lee took over the old No Va restaurant space

Stagger Lee
Stagger Lee
Nadia Chaudhury/EATX
Nadia Chaudhury is the editor of Eater Austin covering food and pop culture, as well as a photographer, writer, and frequent panel moderator and podcast guest.

New downtown Austin bar Stagger Lee is now open on 87 Rainey Street, the former home of restaurant and bar No Va. The bar made its downtown Austin debut in early March, right before South by Southwest, which makes sense since it’s found in the middle of one of the biggest festival hubs.

Stagger Lee serves up cocktails as well as beer. There is a food component as well, but those details aren’t available yet. The bar hosted an activation for video game publisher Activision during the interactive portion of SXSW, but doesn’t appear to be doing anything during the music segment.

The name of the bar stems from the nickname of a man, Lee Shelton, who was known for the time he got into a fought and shot his friend Billy Lyons in St. Louis in 1895. Shelton was arrested when Lyons died, and he was eventually pardoned. The account was portrayed in various songs since then, by musicians and bands like Woody Guthrie and the Grateful Dead.

The bar is from Matt Luckie, Max Moreland, and Mike Joyce. While all three people are involved with Austin hospitality group FBR Management, the bar is notably not an FBR project. FBR includes Star Bar, the Wheel, Gibson Bar, Graveland Grocery, Lavaca Street (the three bar mini-chain), Mean-Eyed Cat, Lala’s, the main Stubb’s Bar-B-Q restaurant and music venue, plus former-Stubb’s, now-Do-Rite Barbecue locations.

No Va opened in 2013 by founding executive chef Brad Sorenson. He left in 2015, and the restaurant eventually closed in 2017.

Stagger Lee

87 Rainey Street, Austin, Texas 78701