Iconic Austin Stores Close Down

Alondra Aguirre, Staffer

Nau’s Enfield Drug

Austin’s Nau’s Enfield Drug store in Clarksville was a pharmacy owned by the Labay family since 1971. The pharmacy, which is also a soda fountain and diner, will close in March of 2023 due to the Labay family being unable to renew their lease for the building, according to KVUE.

 The store was located on 12th Street and West Lynn Street, and had been in business since 1951. Laura Labay took over the store 6 years ago and became manager after her father, Labay said. 

Labay explained to KVUE that she was surprised when the owners of the building told her that they were not planning on renewing the lease and were instead deciding to sell the property. Labay’s parents, particularly her dad, had put much time and effort into the business, and are taking the loss of their store very hard. Labay explained the feeling as similar to losing a family member. She says during her time as manager, she tried to keep the store open through the staffing shortages, equipment breakages, and the pandemic. Despite these challenges, Labay said she values the community the store has created and values each customer.

In the process of closing the store, Labay put up a sign out front, encouraging people to come and buy some of the antiques and inventory left in the building. She says that at first there was no one coming to pick anything up, but then, throughout the weekend the crowd grew. She had to return the keys to the building or leave the property by March 2023. Labay said she never imagined that she would have to shut down the business. At the moment, Labay doesn’t know the next steps for her business, her family, or herself.

La Mexicana Bakery

Feb. 16, 2023 was the last day of service for Austin’s iconic La Mexicana bakery in Bouldin Creek. The spot was originally a bakery owned by La Reyna, another Tex-Mex eatery, but was bought by Jesus Martinez Becerra in 1989. Becerra immigrated to the United States from Mexico when he was 14 years old with only ten dollars in savings. Becerra said his initial goal was to make $1000, just enough to send back home to his family in Mexico, but after making double that amount he was able to see a future for his business and community, according to KXAN. Becerra founded the new bakery, named La Mexicana, and has been the owner for the last 32 years. 

Before the pandemic, the bakery was known for being open 24 hours a day, attracting many hungry customers craving late night treats. However, during the pandemic, the bakery was forced to shorten its hours considerably as compared to pre-pandemic ones. Becerra is retiring and he says he made the decision to close the store rather than pass it onto family because of the pressures associated with running a bakery, including long hours and responding to consumer demand, according to an article from Austin Eater. Becerra’s daughter, Bianka Lopez, said in a post on Facebook that the bakery did not get pushed out because of gentrification or rising costs, but rather because her father wants to enjoy his retirement. According to Lopez, La Mexicana has left a special place in the hearts of Austin locals, and Becerra is leaving behind a large legacy.

The City of Austin officially recognized Becerra’s influence in Austin by creating “La Mexicana Bakery Day” an annual city holiday on Feb. 16.

Lucy in Disguise

April Fool’s Day, 1984, was the day local Austin business, Lucy in Disguise with Diamonds opened. However, on Dec. 17, 2022 the store closed for good. The store on South Congress was opened 38 years ago by Jenna Radtke. According to Radtke, she has always been a very wild person, and enjoys wearing colorful pieces of clothing, which led her to open a store in the costume renting and selling business. 

The store is very popular in Austin, which is why it has come as a surprise to many that the store is closing, according to Austin Monthly. In an interview with Austin Monthy, Jerry Durham, the store manager, said that there are a lot of factors that contribute to the store’s closure such as the changing landscape of South Congress, which Durham said will likely only continue. In addition, a lot of the store’s suppliers didn’t make it through the pandemic, which has made it very difficult to get products for the store, and contributed to supply chain issues since then. 

An article from CBS Austin said that Lucy in Disguise With Diamonds has been an Austin staple and has become a part of the city’s identity throughout the years. Durham also said that this creative and weird store owes its success to the creative community of Austin, and without them the store wouldn’t have lasted this long.