If they could talk, the walls at Sellers would tell a noir tale of drug trafficking, money laundering, and ties to Hezbollah, while the floors would speak of live sharks lurking silently beneath two-stepping patrons. That was more than five years ago, and the pages have been slowly turning. The former narcotics-peddling tenants were jailed, the sharks removed from their dance-floor tank, and, with Michael Hsu Office of Architecture at the helm, the story arc of Sellers is bending toward redemption.
When Austin native Michael Icenhauer decided to expand from his eponymous bar on historic Rainey Street, he was determined to find the right space. What he found in late 2014—a 5,800-square-foot Warehouse District club—seemed ideal, but came with the baggage left by three Lebanese-immigrant brothers who operated the bar—then called Qua—while running weapons, evading taxes, and angering animal rights groups. To pen the next chapter in the building’s winding history, Icenhauer enlisted fellow local Hsu, whom he’d found sometime earlier, during a revamp of his first bar, by searching for “Cool Architects in Austin” on Google. They’ve since forged a strong relationship. “They know what looks good and we trust them,” Icenhauer says. “It was an easy choice to work with them again because we know that they’re going to do a good job, are proud of what they do, and won’t leave any stone unturned.”