As financial troubles cause music venues such as Holy Mountain and Red7 to shut their doors, maintaining a hub for live music downtown seems increasingly difficult. But local entrepreneur Chad Goldwasser isn’t daunted.
Tellers, which is located on Sixth and Trinity streets, officially opened Oct. 2. The venue will host its grand opening celebration Saturday and Sunday featuring performances from Graham Wilkinson, Kalu James, Hunter Sharpe, Digital Wild and others. Club owner Goldwasser said he and co-owner Adam Weedman want to provide a space for Austin musicians to come together with the community.
Goldwasser, a real estate broker, said his experience as a businessman will set Tellers apart from other struggling local venues. He said he plans to support the 150-person venue by “getting creative” — hosting multiple shows a day and renting the space for private events such as weddings and SXSW in March.
“I never quit,” Goldwasser said. “I never give up. I’m a promoter, I’m a marketer and I’m not just going to sit back and hope it survives. I’m not just going to put an ad in the Chronicle and hope that people come.”
Goldwasser said his eagerness to open Tellers led him to start hosting concerts less than two weeks after leasing and renovating the building.
“Music is one of my first passions, besides my children,” Goldwasser said. “To me, [Tellers] is not my place — it’s Austin’s place. I want the musicians to come in, and if there’s one person in the audience, I’m going to be in the front row dancing.”
Each of Tellers’ three floors has a different ambiance. A warm, speakeasy-inspired bar called Vinyl hosts DJs and after-hours parties downstairs. On the main floor, exposed stonework preserves the
historic feeling of the 19th-century building. Upstairs, the main stage is set up for three or four genre-spanning shows a night.
“God gave me this intensely fire-burning energy,” Goldwasser said. “I don’t need much sleep, and I love serving people, so when you come into Tellers, you’ll see me greeting people, behind the bar making drinks, dancing at the front of the stage, helping the bands. When we all work together and everybody works hard, things run smoothly.”
Weedman said he hopes to set the bar apart from others on Sixth Street by placing an emphasis on friendly and personal service from bartenders.
“This is about knowing who comes through the door, greeting them, getting to know who they are and why they’re here and making it a special place for people to hang out,” Weedman said. “We’re going to push our bartenders and our servers to be exceptional at making people feel good.”
Goldwasser said he decided on the venue’s name, an abbreviation of “storytellers,” because he believes music can tell stories that heal people.
“I love stories about songs,” Goldwasser said. “I want to know what they’re writing about and why.”
Wilkinson, who played at the club’s first night, said small venues such as Tellers are important to the city’s music scene because they help bands gain exposure.
“This is a guy that’s from Austin with local bands and local beers — whatever you spend there is going back to the community,” Wilkinson said. “The goal behind it is to create an environment that is supportive to artists and listeners to hear all kinds of music.”
According to Goldwasser, Tellers is only the first part of a bigger plan. He and Weedman hope to open venues in cities across America with the goal of becoming the next House of Blues.
“My goal is build the most amazing, legendary, kick-ass Austin music venue that ever was and then take it and drop it in L.A. and San Francisco and Minneapolis and Chicago and all over the world,” Goldwasser said.