Will Tanner and Nathan Hill, owners of the new club Stay Gold, aren’t trying to get drawn into a conversation about gentrification and the changing face of East Austin, but the topic is hard to avoid. Stay Gold will take over the space of Tejano club El Leon, on a small lot near Leal’s Tire Shop on East Cesar Chavez Street. Across the street, Drinks Lounge, run by folks from East Sixth Street clubs the Brixton and Shangri-La, replaced another Tejano spot, Club El Caletano, less than six months ago.

But Tanner and Hill are not opportunists swooping in from a far-flung coast. The two are solidly grounded in the Austin music scene — Tanner as owner of storied campus-area haunt the Hole in the Wall and Hill a partner in popular eastside honky tonk the White Horse. Hill was the general manager when Tanner took over the Hole roughly seven years ago, and the two enjoyed a solid working relationship. "He’s a huge part of why the Hole in the Wall is still here," Tanner said. Likewise Hill credits Tanner with encouraging him to branch out and open his own place.

The idea for Stay Gold has been in the works for a couple years. The White Horse wasn’t necessarily looking to expand, Hill says, but the partners were casually scouting a spot that might be fun. Hill had a good feeling about El Leon.

"We kind of came in here and started talking to David Contreras, the owner, and really liked him and he liked us," he said.

Contreras was the second generation owner of El Leon, a club launched by his father roughly 40 years ago, but "things were kind of winding down for that kind of style of business over here," Hill said. "He wasn’t selling as much beer. … It was getting a little harder."

Maintaining ownership of the building, Contreras agreed to lease the space to Hill, who partnered with Tanner after the rest of the White Horse crew opted out. El Leon closed last summer, and the two have been hustling to get the space in shape.

Written into the lease contract was a clause that the new club would keep a blue and silver metallic painting of a lion (el Leon) that hung behind the bar. It’s now proudly displayed by the patio door. Hill and Tanner also decided to honor the old club by mounting the original bar sign on the side of the building, a centerpiece of the new club’s patio. On the night of the media preview, the first night the club was open, Contreras came by with his mother, who blessed the building with the sign of the cross.

The inside of the club is small, with a capacity of less than 100. Candles flicker on tables near the small stage at the front of the room, and the bar is lined with comfy wing-back chairs in a tasteful, muted grey. Outside, the patio is draped with strings of lights. Repurposed benches that used to ring pool tables line a cinder block wall that runs down the center, and a sheltered row of cushioned benches fashioned into U-shaped alcoves for groups of 10 or so will likely emerge as one of the club’s most popular features.

Nestled on the edge of a residential neighborhood, the club will have live music most nights, but the partners are not trying to create a rock club. "White Horse already has the kind of rowdiness nailed down pretty well, as Hole in the Wall has before and still does," Hill said. "Our music that we’re going for is a little more relaxed, but we’re still trying to throw a pretty good party."

The schedule for the first two months is already filled out and, reflecting a jukebox stocked with "baby-making music," most of the offerings tend toward jazz and soul. A notable exception is Friday’s grand opening with the massive afrobeat ensemble Hard Proof. Tanner says the 10-piece band will likely play an acoustic set with percussionists spilling into the audience.

Bands will always be confined to the indoor section of the club, and even then the volume will not be excessive. "I don’t really see this place as much as a venue as a bar with live music to add to the ambience," Hill said.

The bar offerings run the gamut from custom cocktails to Pabst Blue Ribbon, and Chef Hannah Love will serve modern home cooking from her trailer Toaster, parked on site. The bar’s vibe is nice, "but not too nice." It aims to be a place where anyone can feel comfortable.

"When you look at other cities that have done this kind of growth really well, like Portland, they have great neighborhood bars in a lot of the great neighborhoods," Hill said. "I would hope that we can be the same thing to everybody who already lives here or is moving into the neighborhood."

Stay Gold is at 1910 E. Cesar Chavez St. The bar will be open seven nights a week and during brunch service on Saturdays and Sundays. Live music starts at 10 p.m. each night.