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Austin Lakefront Institution Closes Doors For Lack Of Water

Dockside at Carlos 'n Charlie's on Lake Travis.
Pete Clark
Dockside at Carlos 'n Charlie's on Lake Travis.

Carlos 'n Charlie's restaurant on Lake Travis in Austin, Texas, will be having its last last call on Monday. But don't bother coming by boat.

The restaurant has been a lakeside hotspot since it opened in 1995. Back then, docking at the restaurant's wharf was a popular way to take in the party atmosphere, which part-owner Pete Clark describes as like "a cheap Spring break movie."

Carlos 'n Charlie's wharf in better days.
/ Pete Clark
Pete Clark
Carlos 'n Charlie's wharf in better days.

Speaking to Weekend Edition Sunday, Clark says "lots of people, most of them in their swimwear" would come to Carlos 'n Charlie's in their loud powerboats to soak up the fun and sun.

No more.

A historic, years-long drought has left the restaurant's dock high and dry. So, Labor Day will be the last bash before it closes for good.

"If you'd asked me five years ago, I wouldn't have been able to even see it," Clark tells Weekend Edition Sundayguest host Wade Goodwyn. "The water went down and kind of stayed down."

Low water, high water, it used to be part of a yearly cycle, he says. Carlos 'n Charlie's has "been through floods and droughts, but nothing that's lasted this long."

"After the first year, we expected that the next year would be better," he says.

"We rode through it and the next year came. We did that again, and the next year came and we did it again," he says. "We just can't continue doing that."

Clark says after one last party on Labor Day, the restaurant will "auction off some of the mementos" so that customers can take a piece of the place home with them.

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