Our Story

To anyone who totes their books to bars, parks, restaurants, bus stations, and everywhere in between, this story is for you. 

Opening an independent bookstore may seem like an odd childhood dream, but it is one Jean nurtured for most of her life (despite growing up in the era of Amazon and big-box retailers). Until a few years ago, the only news headlines surrounding the indy bookstore business was the rapid rate at which they were declining. Despite this, Jean’s dream endured, and when fate landed her in Austin, she knew this was where she would make her dream a reality.

Fortunately for her, some of the many joys of settling in Austin were the sights, sounds, and cultures of the Texas Hill Country. Jean could often be found reading books at her favorite wineries while learning about the quality, character, and tenacity of Texas vintners. It didn't take long before she had a realization at one of these picturesque Hill Country properties. Why not combine the two things she loved so much and that naturally went so well together? 

​And thus Vintage was born. The seed that was planted and nurtured in the heart of a young book lover found a home in the rich culture of Austin, Texas and blossomed into the area’s first independent bookstore and wine bar.

 

You're likely to find Jean behind the bar on any given day, so swing on by and say hello!

Our Building

Our beloved Haehnel building has a rich and colorful history dating back to the 1800s. You heard that right, this beauty is over 142 years old! 

The structure was origianlly built by Mr. Salvatore Bailetti, a 26 year old Italian immigrant and merchant, to serve as his residence, a grocery, and a saloon. Mr. Bailetti successfully ran his establishment for nearly 20 years selling beer, firearms, and groceries. Between 1895 and 1898 the building was sold to German immigrant Carl Haehnel who was part of a well-known Austin mercantile family and who continued to run a grocery out of the property.

 

Sadly, the original building was subject to a fire in 1900 which required Mr Haehnel to rebuild as the brick structure we still see today. According to the records from a Sanborn Fire Insurance map, this building is in the exact same configuration as Mr. Bailetti's original property. 

Several small businesses have thrived within our building's walls, but the most notable in recent memory was its operation as Shorty's Bar, a popular and beloved gathering place for many locals from 1960 to 1987. Named for the owner Eugene “Shorty” Bonner, the bar was a cornerstone of community and connection, until it's closure in 1991. It was Shorty himself who had the Haehnel Building designated as a historic site by the National Register of Historic Places.

After sitting empty for 10 years, the Austin Revitalization Authority officially stepped in to bring the neglected building back to it's original glory. In partnership with C.P. Snider Construction Co. Inc. the building was restored to the condition we see and appreciate today. 

After a storied past such as this one, we at Vintage love the idea that we can bring a lively sense of community back into the corner of East 11th and Waller while celebrating the importance it had to the local East side neighborhood.

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Our Name

Our name plays on the homonym, “vintage,” which refers to the year grapes are harvested for wine production and something of lasting interest and importance (such as our books). Items described as "vintage" are perceived as unique and personal with the understanding that they've seen a lot of life. We believe our store is exactly that. We offer a welcoming space rooted in community that is as unique as our wonderful neighbors. Welcome to Austin's living room.