Update: Library board explains Hit the Spot Cafe closure
Update: The East Travis Gateway Library District posted an official statement Monday about its decision to terminate the Hit the Spot Cafe lease. The statement on the library district's website says the decision came after the board learned that cafe owner Jesse Solis was visited by officials from the Texas Comptroller and the sheriff's office.
“Conversation with those agents revealed that Mr. Solis had not been paying his sales tax and that the Comptroller’s office was planning to take action for nonpayment,” the statement says. “These agents could not guarantee that the Library operation wouldn’t be affected by their actions and that we could lose access to the building until the issue was resolved, which could be months in duration.”
Public Travis County court records obtained by the Statesman show two outstanding Abstracts of Judgment indicating Hit the Spot Cafe owes money to a group of plaintiffs that includes the Austin Community College, Del Valle Independent School District, Travis County, Travis County Emergency District #11, and Travis County Healthcare District DBA Central Health.
The judgment from September 2015 in the amount of about $7,000 is filed against defendant Ruben Elizondo, individually and DBA Hit the Spot Cafe; and the judgment from October 2017 in the amount of about $4,000 names the defendant as Jesse J. Solis DBA Hit the Spot Cafe. An official at the county court’s office says that payments are still pending in both of these civil matters.
“The Board made the decision to terminate its relationship with the Hit the Spot Café through two unanimous votes in an effort to protect the interests of the Library. We wish Mr. Solis the best of luck in his future endeavors,” the board's statement reads. “As always, the Library District remains committed to serving our community; offering library services and programming that advances and enriches the lives of District residents.”
ETGLD board member Cathy Olive told the Statesman Monday the board intends to use the former Hit the Spot Cafe for meetings and community use.
A unique piece of Central Texas’ dining culture came to an abrupt end this week, as the Hit the Spot Cafe at the Garfield Library closed on New Year’s Eve.
The cafe connected to the library was known for its comfort dishes ranging from pancakes and Mexican egg combinations in the morning to chicken-fried steaks and burgers in the afternoon.
Owner Jesse Solis, who opened the cafe popular with everyone from blue-collar workers to Austin hipsters in 2010, said that he decided to close the restaurant after he heard the East Travis Gateway Library District had determined it no longer wanted a restaurant connected to the library.
The East Travis Gateway Library District, which was founded in 2006 and receives the bulk of its operating budget from a half-cent sales tax, owns the lease on the Hit the Spot Cafe space and operates the Garfield and Elroy libraries.
“We are closing. It is terrible,” Solis said Wednesday. “We’ve become a legend. We’ve done really well for the community. But they don’t want us to be here any longer, and I don’t want to be anywhere I’m not wanted.”
A representative for the library district board said Wednesday that the board voted twice recently on the lease, and termination was the decision each time. A publicly posted agenda from the Dec. 10 board meeting posted to the library district’s website said board members would consider and take possible action on terminating the contract for the cafe’s lease. The notes also mention "designs for the new library."
“This decision is still kind of unfolding,” library Director Andrea Ortiz said of the cafe's closure, adding that the decision was a hard one and that the board will have an official statement in the coming days.
Hit the Spot Cafe posted a note about the closing on its Facebook page, which had received 100 comments in the first hour, and stated that it would update fans if things change. Solis continues to own and operate the Hit the Spot Cafe location in Hutto, which opened last spring.