Donns Depot V

Last Stop in Old Austin

Donn Adelman - Donn's Depot

For Donn Adelman, music has always been a deep part of his life. As early as 1972 Adelman was the resident pianist at McNeil Depot Saloon, a rustic piano bar built from a transported Missouri-Pacific train depot along with multiple freight cars. In 1978, Adelman took over the business and renamed it Donn’s Depot. 40 years on, it is an iconic Austin watering hole.

In a part of town where everything is evolving, turning over, and generally expanding into a more contemporary realm, the oldest bar in the area feels almost like a novelty. It retains an old neighborhood feel, and Donn himself still plays regularly along with Mike Jackson and Craig Calvert’s bands Hotcakes and Murphy’s InLaws.

Longevity is something Donn can hang his hat on. Beyond the last four decades, Donn has had his manager Christine, work for him for 28 years. His sons have helped him run the business for 24 years. While he’s had a good run and isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, it’s not easy staying afloat. “Just like the song, the times they are a changin’.” says Donn. The competition is stiff—the margins are narrow, and property taxes aren’t going down anytime soon. “It’s not all gravy, sometimes it’s bones and rocks,” says Donn. It never gets easy, but this 40-year passion project never was.

Donn and his depot are still here, holding on to an old Austin melody while the city’s modern tune moves around it. It’s still an important stop, and one of the last of its kind.

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