What do expats, travelers, artists, and humanitarians have in common? You wouldn’t believe it but all these folks hang out at this really rad wine bar in small-town Elgin, Texas – about 30-45 minutes outside Austin. The Owl Wine Bar and Home Goods Store has much more than meets the eye and I was overjoyed to have stumbled upon it.
Co-owned by Molly Alexander and Gary Luedecke, these guys are changing the landscape of Elgin, Texas. With an urban planning background (and having worked at the Downtown Austin Alliance), Molly quickly saw the potential of the charming old Elgin downtown.
The one thing I kept asking Molly was… well, why Elgin? Austin in all of its bohemian glory is a quick 30 minute jaunt away. The answers will surprise you.
“Having come from a large city, I didn’t expect to find the depth of human interaction, creativity and connection that I have found in Elgin. Every community, in my opinion, is full of diverse and interesting people. However, while I am a bit biased, I have found that Elgin always exceeds my expectations. Our community is accepting, diverse, affordable and I believe our proximity to Austin has created a great place for artists, farmers, creative folks and others to call Elgin home. It has always been our goal that our store is an extension of our living room – we welcome folks to hang out, create and build community. We have amazing friends who have supported the store and everyday we have new customers who find us and add to our belief that Elgin is the Marfa of east Austin.“
I just kept blinking in disbelief as I met more and more kindred spirits. A sculptor that has done multiple pieces for Houston. A humanitarian who had spent a lot of time in Africa. A slew of musicians were waiting their turn for the microphone. Molly herself spent a year backpacking around the world in 2001. I somehow found “my people” in a small city outside of Austin in this really rad wine bar. It would have been a damn shame if I had never come here in the first place.
With a big, beautiful mural painted on the wall (original from 1909!), the energy on a Friday night was contagious. People kept piling in for open mic night, shouting wine and beer orders to a furiously working Gary and Molly – in a city no bigger than 100,000 people.
And the wine – OMG. One of the really awesome concepts behind The Owl is finding great wines that aren’t too expensive that you can’t find at your local liquor store. “Red, pink, or white?” Molly smiled as she held up a few wine bottles. She gracefully poured me the REVO LUTION Malbec, which was probably some of the best I’ve had since we were living in Buenos Aires. I moved on to the “pink” which was a Father & Son Rose – delicious, cold, and refreshing for a hot, Texas summer night – and ended on Kung Fu Girl, a riesling from Washington. Normally I’m not a fan of incredibly sweet wines but this one was a nice, crisp wine to finish up on. Make sure to ask them for suggestions!
And a quick heads up – it is incredibly hard to leave the store without buying any of the fab antiques found everywhere. Seeing as Shaun and I are setting up roots in Austin again, I wanted to own just about everything I laid my eyes on. Great find here, my friends. While I’m not normally an antiquing girl, I think Molly and Gary may have converted me on the spot.
“We hope that The Owl spurs a retail renaissance for downtown Elgin and we encourage other creative entrepreneurs to come to downtown Elgin and try out their newest concept. The cost to start a business in Elgin is low, the community is ripe for redevelopment and open to creative concepts.”
You have me considering exactly that, Molly… you really do.
Molly Alexander was recently featured in Austin Woman Magazine. If you would like to read her article, please follow the link below:
Disclosure: I was given a heads up about this place from a PR company in a no obligations deal. It sounded cute and Molly rained wine upon me when I arrived.