top of page

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 Logan, her then fiancé, encouraged her to finally pursue her dream. 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 originally 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 gathering place for many locals from 1960 to 1987. Named for the owner Eugene “Shorty” Bonner, the bar was a neighborhood staple, until its 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 its 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.

Screen Shot 2021-12-05 at 3.20.07 PM.png

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.

FAQs

  1. Is Vintage pet friendly?

    • We love all of your furry friends! However, only service animals are allowed inside (darn health code requirements). We invite all guests to enjoy our two pet-friendly patios if accompanied by their fur babies.

  2. Can we have a book club meet-up at Vintage?

    • Of course! We welcome book clubs of all kinds. Just keep in mind we have limited space for large groups. If you have 4+ attendees, we recommend renting one of our private rooms. More information can be found here.

  3. Do you sell Gift Cards?

    • Yes! Gift cards are available for in-store pickup only. If you are a non-local, we are happy to accept payment over the phone and hold the GC behind the bar for recipient pick-up.

  4. Do you accept reservations?

    • Outside of book club meetings, we do not offer individual reservations

  5. When and how can we sign up for your Membership Program?

    • We are amazed by the overwhelming interest in our Book Club program! We are on a waitlist for our in-person membership, but we will launch an additional offering in the new year. Stay tuned for more information come January!

  6. Are you Hiring?

    • Not currently, but our team will be expanding in the future! Please fill out this form if you are interested!

  7. Are kids allowed?

    • While our business is not 21+ only, we do not carry children's books. Our lounge space is very similar to a wine bar environment and may not be suitable for young children.

  8. Can Vintage be rented out for private events?

  9. Is your building wheelchair accessible?

    • We certainly are! Our rear entrance is wheelchair accessible. We also have a ramp available upon request to access our stage.

  10. Do you have non-alcoholic beverages?

    • Absolutely! We offer the following non-alch options:

      • Hot tea

      • Americano/Espresso/Cold Brew

      • Crisp & Crude Mocktails

      • A limited selection of non-alcoholic wine

  11. I'm a professional photographer. Can we have a session at Vintage? Even if it's low profile?

    • We have been very humbled by the number of people requesting to have photo shoots in the shop. However, due to the frequency of these requests and the disruptive nature of the activity (we know you will try your best to be low profile, but unfortunately, it doesn't usually end up that way) we cannot accept photo requests during opening hours.

    • If you would like to rent the space prior to our opening or on a Monday, feel free to reach out to events@vintagebooksandwine.com for more information.

bottom of page