As I walked into Nau Enfield Drug, I felt my step begin to slow. It must be the oldies music, or the extra boxes of Depends on the top shelf. Obviously, I had entered a place of no pretensions. “Lambert” as his co-workers refer to him, is Lambert Labay, the owner and pharmacist (I only got a last name out of him when I asked). Originally from the Gulf Coast, Labay moved to Austin in 1959 to study pharmacy at the University of Texas. In 1972 Labay bought the Enfield store from its original owner, Hilton Nau, who opened the drugstore back in 1951. Hilton’s brother Ladner owned the San Gabriel store, which has since been bought by his son-in-law, Gary Overbeck.
Nau’s history is rich with star-studded appearances. The Hot Spot, starring Don Johnson and Dennis Hopper, was filmed there in 1990. Lukas Haas (Mars Attacks!, Everyone Says I Love You), a neighborhood denizen, used to frequent the store, and autographed photos of Haas, Peter Van Zandt, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Don Johnson, among others, hang on the back wall. Of course, Nau Enfield has seen its share of local celebrities too. Former governors Alan Shivers and Ann Richards both trade at Nau Enfield, and former Dallas Cowboys linebacker Thomas “Hollywood” Henderson, a regular, won $28 million from a lottery ticket he purchased there in March 2000.
But Nau’s treats regular folks right too. As any good Austinite knows, you can set up an account at Nau’s and cash checks (although, they claim to have cracked down on their lenient check-cashing policies). Nau’s boasts complete drugstore service, stamps, and a convenient delivery service. Best of all is Nau’s old-fashioned soda fountain, with the treats from yesteryear—milk shakes, malts, banana splits, and ice cream sodas. Don’t forget the hamburgers, pimento cheese sandwiches, Spanish omelets, huevos rancheros, and breakfast tacos. The prices are right too. Around noon it’s hard to find a place to sit at the bar, booths, or tables.
Not much has changed over the years. Regulars come in every day, sometimes twice, to eat, chat, or pick up a prescription. The afternoon I stopped by, a group of old men were laughing and talking at a table in the back. While enjoying a grilled cheese sandwich and a vanilla shake at the counter, I overheard a regular ask another patron whether he was a “Nausketeer” too. The old-fashioned charm makes Nau Enfield a very in place to be.
Nau Enfield Drug
1115 West Lynn, corner of West Lynn and Twelfth Street
Austin, Texas, 78703
Sun 10 a.m.—6 p.m., Mon thru Fri 7:30 a.m.—9 p.m., Sat 8 a.m.—9 p.m.
Mon thru Fri 7:30 a.m.—4:15 p.m., Sat 8 a.m.—2:30 p.m. Closed Sun.