The smell of popcorn fills the air as customers begin to trickle into Donn's Depot.  Some sit at the “round table,” where retired men mingle daily to share stories from the past or make wisecracks about the stripper pole in the ladies room -- it's really just a pole in a caboose.  Others sit by the TV waiting for "Jeopardy." Some of them have been coming to this old train depot-turned bar since it opened more than 40 years ago.

“It’s always been a sense of family and all of the regulars just adopt you.” said Tammi Schisler, who has been a bartender at Donn's for 29 years. “They introduce you to their families, kids and they just bring you into their fold.”

“The insides haven’t changed that much. New carpet every couple of years and occasionally a paint job. But the sense of family has stayed the same.”

Over the years patrons have celebrated their birthdays and anniversaries at the bar, decorating around the Christmas lights and cards still hung up from previous years. Others play dominoes before the music kicks off and people hit the dance floor, while an overzealous disco ball shines above.

“I’ve got kids in here 21 years old, I’ve got customers in here as old as 90,” Donn Adelman said. “One 90-year-old, little old man, in here dances… and he can move on the dance floor. It blows my mind.”

Adelman has been playing music in the old depot since 1972 and eventually became the owner.

“(I) just wanted to see if I could do it,” Adelman said with a confident smile. “I was still young enough to get another job if I couldn’t do it.”

Adelman admits it’s not an easy business to be in and jokes about getting into the trade just to get rich.

“There was a time where he might have given up on the place,” Matt Adelman, the bar manager and Donn's son, said. “Times were slow (and) it didn’t seem like the energy was in the place.”

Matt Adelman said new employees brought a different attitude to the place, restoring the energy and bringing in new customers. He said his father still plays piano two to three times a week, even though, at 79, he doesn't always feel well.

“Just a good hardworking man, as hardworking as this old depot’s been,” the younger Adelman said.

The rise of property taxes in Austin has stressed business owners over recent years, including the Adelmans, as bars and restaurants continue to close around the city. One of the biggest hits recently was Threadgill's World Headquarters, which closed just before the New Year. (The original location on North Lamar Boulevard remains open.)

“There won’t be anything left in Austin that’s old and original if it keeps going the way it is,” Matt Adelman said.

Some might say it’s the cheap drinks and quirky atmosphere that keeps the saloon from closing. But most regulars would agree it’s because of the everlasting friendships they’ve made over the years, either dancing or while listening to Donn’s soothing voice that his son describes as a mix between Elvis and Marty Robbins.

“It would be kind of fun to have this old saloon be the oldest bar left in town,” Matt Adelman said.

The 48-year-old Adelman sticks around despite the city’s lack of affordability, hoping for the best.

“I decided I wanted this place to be a legend and to be my father’s legacy and it’s becoming that,” he said.