Guero’s Taco Bar founder Rob Lippincott, a stalwart in the Austin hospitality scene and a driving force in helping give South Congress Avenue its distinctive style, died Saturday night at his home, according to social media posts by the restaurant.
Lippincott derived inspiration for Guero’s from his adventures to Mexico with family and friends, the post reads. “There he fell in love with the people, culture and cuisine. He brought that love and passion back to create his own ‘guero’ version of that in his beloved Austin, Texas.”
Rob and Cathy Lippincott opened the original Guero’s at 614 E. Oltorf St. (now home to Curra’s Grill) in 1986 before purchasing Central Feed and Seed store on South Congress Avenue, which became the home for Guero’s starting in 1995. The couple’s daughters, Lyle and Bette Lippincott, have operated the restaurant for years.
Steve Wertheimer, who opened the Continental Club on South Congress on New Year’s Eve 1987, said he was thrilled when his friend Lippincott told him that he was considering moving Guero’s just a block away.
When Wertheimer opened the now-iconic music venue, Congress was populated with motels, a gun store, floor covering store, liquor store and some vacant buildings. He doesn’t remember any tenants on that stretch of the avenue even being open past 5 p.m.
Guero’s changed that.
“I was kind of like an island down there, and we were trying to make something of that club, and I thought it was a great idea,” Wertheimer said. “I was looking for more activity down there. That family really helped solidify my existence down there. It helped me out considerably.”
Wertheimer said Lippincott, his friend since about 1987, thrived at Guero’s because he was a people person who had the right personality and the right attitude for the hospitality business.
“He was always a joy to be around. That guy just didn’t seem like he had bad days,” Wertheimer said. “We’re gonna miss him terribly.”
In addition to the thousands of margaritas, steaming plates of enchiladas and countless bowls of queso Guero’s has served, the restaurant has also delivered plenty of entertainment to South Austin, with regular live music at its adjacent Oak Garden Stage. The iconic restaurant and its live music stage have been featured in numerous TV travel shows and appeared in the Jon Favreau’s 2014 film “Chef.”
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Lippincott not only fed and entertained those coming to South Congress, an area that was home to drug and car dealers back in the 1980s, he helped transform the now-bustling boulevard. In the mid-aughts, Lippincott and his partners, Abe Zimmerman and Stan Biderman, developed the complex that is home to Hopdoddy, By George and Perla’s Seafood & Oyster Bar.
Longtime Threadgill’s owner Eddie Wilson, who gave South Austin much of its spiritual identity with his Armadillo World Headquarters, met Lippincott in the late 80s. He called the Guero’s founder a “stalwart,” a “real creative, hard-working” man who always had good, unique ideas and “the most remarkable love of family.”
When the Lippincotts opened in the old feed store on South Congress just down from Threadgill’s, Wilson paid him a visit.
“We had kind of a brotherhood immediately,” Wilson said. “I took him a photograph of the Feed store that he held very near and dear for the rest of his existence. The feed store had originally been opened in the 1920s and was owned by Kenneth Threadgill’s father-in-law; so we had this Old Austin connection. When I took him that picture, I was told I would never be charged anything at Guero’s.”
The family asks for privacy during this time of remembrance and celebration of Lippincott’s life, according to the social media posts.
This is a developing story. Check back for updates.
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