Coming Soon

Wonderland "Neighborhood Bar" to Open on East Side

By Megan Giller  |  December 19, 2013
Credit: Laura Shearer

This week La Corsha Hospitality Group (Second Bar and Kitchen, Congress, Seaholm Power Plant) announced that it will be building a hotel and a restaurant on the site of soon-to-be-closed Cheer Up Charlie’s. But before that happens, the group plans to open Wonderland, a neighborhood bar in the Cheer Up’s space by SXSW time in March. When we caught up with Congress and Wonderland owner and entertainment director Scott Walker and Bar Congress bar manager Jason Stevens to talk about the upcoming project, they both assured us that despite all the buzz around the word “dive,” Wonderland is not a dive bar. "It won’t be a craft cocktail bar either. It will be a laid-back local neighborhood bar with some cocktails.”

Walker told us, “We’re both big fans of Cheer Up Charlie’s. I live right down the street. If they find the right location they’ll continue to do stellar work. I don’t want to go in with a bar and call it Cheer Up Chuck’s and try to rip them off, because it’s not fair to them and their clientele. We’re going to come in with a relaxed neighborhood bar with a low price point. We’re doing something inherent to the neighborhood.”

So what will the drinks look like? They’ll have draft beer as well as draft cocktails, all at a lower price point than the fancy-schmancy cocktail bars that have been moving into town over the past few years. Haven’t tried a draft cocktail? Stevens says he’s expanding on ideas from California and his own experimentation to bring cocktails on tap to Austin. They’re using the model of the popular Green River drink from Bar Congress as a prototype for other casual cocktails at Wonderland. Oh, and about more-standard divey drinks? Stevens says, “If you want a rum and coke, please, come have one. If you want to come in and have a cocktail with Amaro and other elements that have been bottle-conditioned, we have that, too. Everyone in the neighborhood bar can try something different and love it.”