What is: The Nutty Brown Café cowboy neon sign. Driving from Austin on U.S. Highway 290 it was to be easy to recognize the neon cowboy with “Cafe” blazing in his lasso.
What was: The cowboy neon sign tells you that you have reached the Nutty Brown, “where fun is always the order of the day” and where musical acts play several nights a week.
In the 1930s Nutty Brown first opened as a bakery. In 1932 C. Allen Sears developed the mill, which by World War II was making enough low-starch cottonseed flour to bake four million loaves of bread annually . It eventually changed into the Nutty Brown Mill a confectionary and candy store, selling pecan pralines. At that time, the owners lived in this building; the family made candy in the morning and sold it during the day.
Then it became the Nutty Brown Café — a destination for the people of Central Texas. It was a unique local business with food and music. In the 1980s, a new owner wanted to build a zoo on the property and ran into zoning issues. The Nutty Brown building was instead used as a storefront with ever-changing merchandise, including clothes and antiques. In the ‘90s the property was also used as a hair salon and a car lot.
In 2000, the Nutty Brown Café became a restaurant with an outdoor patio and a small stage for artists to perform cover songs on the weekends. The back patio illuminated by string lights and a large raised concrete slab has hosted an array of both local and national icons including headliners like Merle Haggard and Kevin Fowler. Every concert was packed with people eager to experience this legendary Austin locale of good food and great music.
That small stage led to a larger stage and an ongoing music series, which featured local rock and country acts and attracted 700-800 people every Saturday for two years. It closed in the late 2010s and the concert venue will have a new home in Round Rock TX.