clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Beloved Dive Bar Donn’s Depot Asks for Help to Stay in Business

“We need 250 people to pledge $50 a month, to make sure the Depot doesn’t have to close”

The folks behind Donn’s Depot are brainstorming “ways to keep the business afloat”
The folks behind Donn’s Depot are brainstorming “ways to keep the business afloat”
Donn’s Depot/Facebook

Donn’s Depot, a dive bar located in an old train station known for its live music, is reaching out for a little help from fans to make it through the pandemic without closing its doors forever. The Austin mainstay posted a letter on social media on Friday announcing the idea of starting a pledge drive to help keep its rent paid while COVID-19 restrictions on bars are in place.

“I know many of us have watched as bars and restaurants close, one after the other, worrying what will happen to our beloved Depot,” René Britt wrote in the letter on Instagram and Facebook about the future of the saloon, which is more than 40 years old. She writes:

We love the Depot and cannot imagine a world where it does not exist. We met with Donn, Tammi and Michelle last week to brainstorm ways to keep the business afloat. They were proactive and received a PPP loan, but that money runs out this month. 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. Most of you can imagine with home and property prices the way they are in Austin, rent is also sky high, but must be paid in a pandemic.

The plan they came up with is the “Donn’s Depot All Star Subscription fund,” where fans can send money each month electronically or via snail mail. “We need 250 people to pledge $50 a month, to make sure the Depot doesn’t have to close,” she wrote. “Pledges will go to operational costs only. (rent, utilities and reopening costs).” Those who commit to giving will receive perks like a nameplate on a wall of fame, a private thank you party, and the “knowledge our beloved Depot will still be here.”

Owner Donn Adelman, who’s been playing piano in the bar since 1972, posted a video personally thanking those who’ve donated funds to keep Donn’s Depot going. “It means so much because we’re able to keep the doors locked but pay our bills and be in a position where we can open hopefully in the near future,” he says in the video. “We love everybody who’s done this for us and we hope that we can keep on going forever and ever and ever.”

James Moody, Red River music venue Mohawk owner, is pitching in too. He wrote an ode to the bar on Instagram, and linked to a GoFundMe account for “Austin’s magical honky tonk Donn’s Depot,” which has so far raised nearly $20,000. That’s almost halfway to the GoFundMe’s $50,000 goal. Moody asked those who’ve had good times at Donn’s to help out financially if possible and call their council members too. Moody wrote in part:

Places like this cannot be replaced “after a vaccine”. They only exist due to decades of hard work, blood, sweat, and tears - a patina that is earned and not purchased. They are the heart and soul of our city, and unfortunately many are dropping like flies right now with more to come. Let’s try and work together to make sure this one can stay. These spots aren’t looking for handouts, they are looking for a little boost when they need it most so they can sustain long term. What’s the exchange to you? Let’s be honest, Donns has given all of us way more than we could ever give them in return so trust me - it’s a good deal.

Longtime Donn’s Depot employee Tammi Schissler tells Eater that the response to the pledge drive has been overwhelming. “I’ve been hearing so many regulars, and people I haven’t heard from in years,” she says. “It’s gone above and beyond what we expected, way more.’

Schissler’s been working at Donn’s Depot for nearly 30 years, and she’s not the only one there with a long track record. “Everybody works there forever. Nobody ever really leaves, they’ll leave for awhile and they’ll come back. It’s a true family of employees and customers and musicians,” she says.

She says ever since this campaign started, the team is feeling hopeful and optimistic for the future. “I would say Donn’s Depot customers are the best people in the world and they just proved it since COVID,” Schissler says.

View this post on Instagram

From Depot Framily Member, René Britt: Hello Donn's lovers, I know many of us have watched as bars and restaurants close, one after the other, worrying what will happen to our beloved Depot. I have been going to Donn's since 1982, it was where Danny and I went on our second date 32 yrs ago and where he has played one Sat. a month for over 15 years. We love the Depot and cannot imagine a world where it does not exist. We met with Donn, Tammi and Michelle last week to brainstorm ways to keep the business afloat. They were proactive and received a PPP loan, but that money runs out this month. 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. Most of you can imagine with home and property prices the way they are in Austin, rent is also sky high, but must be paid in a pandemic. Michelle and Tammi have great ideas for raffle prizes etc. to raise funds, but Danny suggested a Donn's Depot All Star Subscription fund. We can each give a little each month to make sure they can open again when this crisis is over and we can get together again. LET'S SAVE THE DEPOT!!! We need 250 people to pledge $50 a month, to make sure the Depot doesn't have to close. Danny and I are going to make a donation and then commit to $50 a month, for the next year. I know some are in a position to give less, and some will be able to give more, please give what you can. Pledges will go to operational costs only. (rent, utilities and reopening costs) See snail mail, PayPal and Venmo options below. Donn's Depot All - Star Family monthly pledge drive subscription gets you: Invite to a Private Facebook Page Private thank you party with food and drink when the Depot reopens Private Christmas Preview party 2021 Your name on the "wall of thanks" posted in the Depot The knowledge our beloved Depot will still be here Checks payable to: Donn's Depot 1600 W. 5th Street Austin, TX 78703 paypal.me/donnsdepot venmo:@donn-adelman I hope you are staying safe and healthy, Rene Britt 512.970.6213

A post shared by Donn's Depot (@donnsdepot) on

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for the Eater Austin newsletter

The freshest news from the local food world