Located at 1315 South Congress Avenue in Austin, the Continental Club is a popular live music venue that opened in 1957. The original owner, Morin Scott, founded the establishment as an upscale private supper club which featured nationally touring bands, including Tommy Dorsey, Glenn Miller, and the Mascots. Hailed as the first venue in Travis County to sell liquor by the drink, the club originally encouraged patrons to bring their own alcoholic beverages while enjoying the live music performances.
During the early 1960s the club was home to Austin’s first burlesque shows. In the late 1960s Martin Schuler took over the lease and converted the club to a neighborhood tavern. During the 1970s Schuler purchased the club and began leasing it out. Soon live music returned as rock-and-roll bands began performing regularly on weekends. In the late 1970s Roger and Roddy One-Knite, in partnership with Summerdog and Wayne Nagel, leased the venue and began booking a diverse array of artists, including Stevie Ray Vaughan, Joe King Carrasco, Joe Ely, the Cobras, D-Day, Skunks, the Butthole Surfers, Leroy Parnell, Kinky Friedman, Van Wilks, and W. C. Clark. In the 1980s Mark Pratz and J’nette Ward, owners of the popular Austin music venue Liberty Lunch, leased the club and featured a variety of new acts including the Kill, True Believers, the Replacements, Soul Asylum, and Sonic Youth, many of whom went on to play at Liberty Lunch, a larger capacity venue.
Steve Wertheimer leased the Continental Club in 1987 and made an effort to restore the interior to its original 1950s decor. In the process Wertheimer restored four original European street scene murals that were painted on the walls during Morin Scott’s ownership. The Continental Club has developed an international reputation for featuring “some of the best retro roots, rockabilly, country and swing available anywhere,” as well as jump blues, alternative rock, alternative country, punk, conjunto, garage rock, and glam rock. The club is a key part of the thriving SoCo (South Congress) art and entertainment area which includes night clubs, restaurants, coffee shops, tattoo parlors, art galleries, and a variety of small family-owned businesses that all add to the eclectic feel of South Austin. Throughout the year the Continental Club hosts a variety of special events, including annual birthday parties for Elvis Presley, Buck Owens, and Wanda Jackson. The venue has been featured in several music videos, live recordings, television shows, and feature films.
In July 2000 a sister company, The Continental Club–Houston, opened to a full house. Located at 3700 Main Street at the corner of Main and Winbern; the downtown Houston location embodies many of the same traditions as the original Austin venue, including retro interior furnishings and the trademark red velvet stage curtain. The Continental Club in Houston also has become a popular night spot. Bands are shared between the two clubs, showcasing both Texas regional musicians as well as national touring acts.