Rainey Street wouldn’t be the same without Bridget Dunlap. The savvy businesswoman transformed the Austin bar scene by envisioning and delivering Lustre Pearl, Clive Bar, and Bar 96. Each of these three projects defied all norms and expectations of typical Austin bars. For those who hated Sixth Street, drunken pedestrians, and dubstep, Rainey Street became the perfect safe haven.
Dunlap’s bars have their own personalities, their own styles, their own narratives. Lustre Pearl embodied that beautifully carefree hippie you always admired. Bar 96 was the know-it-all jock you loved to hate. And Clive Bar? It’s like that loyal friend you knew you could always count on when the occasion called for it.
In just a few months, Dunlap is closing a chapter with her newest and final Rainey Street project – Container Bar. Here, Dunlap talks with TEXAS MONTHLY about Container Bar, her three “children,” and what’s next on the list for her.
What made you decide to use containers as the materials for your new bar?
I have an obsession for containers, and I thought they would be easier and cheaper to utilize than they actually turned out to be [laughs], but I still think the aesthetic of them is really profound, simple, and absolutely beautiful.
How did you visualize putting it all together?
I knew I wanted to create space, and we knew we couldn’t do a bar with just one trailer, so that’s where the idea of stacking them and surrounding it with a patio came from. We wanted a good outdoor space with the pretty aesthetics of containers.
Is this your last bar in Austin?
No, it’s just my last one on Rainey Street.
Why did you decide to make this one your last?
Well, this will be my forth one, and I started it all on Rainey Street. I’m just kind of done with it.
What’s next for you?
I’m moving in a different direction, and once you’ve done four projects on one street, you kind of just want to move forward. I want to do other fantastic projects, but just not on Rainey Street.
Which one of your bars has the most connection with you?
Lustre Pearl is my alter ego. Clive is her boyfriend, and 96 is their lovechild. I love them all differently, but I think of them as children. It would be weird to say which one mattered most to me. They all represent something different, and they all bring a different characteristic to Rainey Street.
What is going to be the alter ego or personality of Container Bar?
Sleek and foxy. A little more sophisticated. Still a comfortable atmosphere, but just a little more sophisticated.
How many industrial shipping containers did it take to put it all together?
Eight in total.
What comes next for you?
I have a restaurant I’m working on, and a few exciting things that I can’t quite reveal yet. Stay tuned.
When will Container Bar open?
I have been planning on the exact date, and I think October 3 is going to be the day. That’s the opening day, and I’m sticking to it!