East Austin dive bar Kellee’s Place is now La Holly, a  cantina concept


One of the last true dive bars that remained on East Sixth Street has transformed into a trendy cantina concept called La Holly, complete with a beer garden and small food truck courtyard outside.

At La Holly, now open, expect drinks that Austinites tend to love — agave-based cocktails and a small selection of local brews, both on tap and in cans and bottles.

The owner of Taco Flats, Simon Madera, took over the long-running Tejano bar Kellee’s Place after spending a few years slinging Mexico City-inspired tacos at his restaurant on Burnet Road. His East Austin project, announced last summer after he purchased Kellee’s, had originally been expected to be a restaurant similar to Taco Flats.

Instead, the grub will come from a pair of food trucks: Taco Flats’ airstream is housed in a small courtyard connected to La Holly, and the well-regarded Dee Dee's Thai Food Trailer has joined it.

Inside, La Holly serves as a “tribute to the neighborhood it's located in,” Madera said in a news release about the bar’s opening. “We're very fortunate to have the opportunity to take over a bar with that kind of history and significance.”

Kellee’s Place, a fixture on East Sixth since 1991, had been the sort of laid-back bar where Tejano music blasted from a jukebox and the beer was cheap.

Now, La Holly’s bar program will specialize in spirits from Mexico: tequila, mezcal and the harder-to-find sotol, raicilla and bacanora popular south of the border. Members of Madera’s Taco Flats team — Chris Nowles, Michael Vasko and Patrick O'Donnell — will help run the bar, as part owners of the project.

The interior design firm behind Taco Flats, McCray and Co., revamped the space to include low ceilings and custom furniture. La Holly also features TVs and a record player, according to the release.

Starting on Valentine’s Day, the bar is softly open from 5 p.m. to 12 a.m. But starting on Feb. 16, La Holly will start having regular hours. It will be open 12 to 11 p.m. on Wednesdays and Thursdays, 12 p.m. to 12 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, and 12 to 9 p.m. on Sundays at 2500 E. Sixth St.

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