A new bar aiming to be somewhat secretive is coming to Central East Austin. Trona will open at 1812 East 12th Street starting on Monday, October 30.
There are two ways to get into the 49-seat bar. First, through text-message reservations. The phone number will only be available via what the press release describes as “word-of-mouth.” A follow-up release notes that the number will also be posted on its Instagram on Sunday, October 29 at noon.
And then, the bar will be open for walk-ins on Mondays and Tuesdays but text-messages are recommended to make sure there is room. The bar will also turn on a green light outside of the space if there is walk-in space at any time.
The entry method is similar to two other speakeasy-style bars in Austin. Downtown cocktail bar Here Nor There requires reservations booked via its mobile app, while fellow downtown bar (comparatively more casual) Red Headed Stepchild requires a code that is available to its text-message list.
Trona will focus on tequilas, mezcals, natural wines, and rare Japanese whiskys. Cocktails will include the Uruapan Expresó (Mexican rum, a cold brew liquor, espresso, Licor 43, cinnamon syrup, and foam bitters); the Jamaica Pinnacles (tequila, hibiscus-infused agave spirit, lime, and black rock salt), and the Wakata (coffee bean-infused Japanese whisky, cold brew, Aztec chocolate bitters, demerara sugar, and angostura bitters).
Founder Tatanka Guerrero explains that the bar will have five different areas “where the aesthetic slowly transforms along each stop,” featuring what the press release notes as modern Japanese and Oaxacan design details. There’s an outdoor area with a pergola and Japanese shou sugi ban (charred cedar) details.
Guerrero opened the bar because he wanted to “bring back the true essence of hospitality.” He aimed to do something at this address because “I’ve played witness to the rapid growth in the area. The East Side just needed more high-level hospitality concepts without losing the cool vibes that make this city so special.” He points to his neighbors — King Bee, Full Circle Bar, Outer Heaven Disco Club, Skinny’s Off Track — and notes that, “ultimately, this is something different for East 12th which just might just have the coolest strip of the bars collectively in the entire city.” Trona is taking over what had been the 13th Floor and, before that, Moloko.
The bar’s name comes from the California city in the Mojave Desert of the same name and a mineral found in the lake there. Guerrero was drawn to the name because of friend and director Van Alpert, who filmed music videos in the town. Alpert and local artist Jiminai painted Trona’s facade.
Behind Trona is the newly formed hospitality group Dreamers & Doers Hospitality from Guerrero. He also oversees coffee shop El Tigre (he joined its team in 2021); alfresco food court Camp East (found further east on 12th Street and which also includes his wine shop and bar Cork & Screw); food truck court Arbor Food Park; and tattoo shop Slowpoke Marfa.
Tatanka, who is Chilean and now resides in Texas, opened the now-closed wine garden Al Campo in Marfa. Before that, he was behind New American restaurant Orange Blossom and cocktail lounge Radio Bar (which is now closed) in Miami.
Rounding out the team are consultants Rizqi Soeharsono (general manager of Chicago Michelin-starred restaurant Alinea) and Austin’s John Coronado (formerly of Aviary Wine & Kitchen, now manager of new French restaurant Bureau de Poste).
For that opening day, Trona will be open to the public for walk-ins from 8 p.m. to 1 a.m. And after that, its reservations-only days and hours will be on Wednesdays through Saturdays from 5 to 10 p.m. During those days, reservations are recommended from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. And then its walk-in hours and days will be on Mondays and Tuesdays from 5 p.m. to 2 a.m. Generally, though, people are supposed to text the phone number before entering to make sure there is space.
Update, October 27: This article, originally published on October 3, has been updated to include Trona’s opening date, details about operations and menu, and to re-clarify reservations versus walk-in hours and services.