Editor’s Note: As of May 2018, The Goodnight on West Anderson Lane has closed. A new location is planned for West Sixth Street.
The Goodnight in Austin sits an arrow’s flight away from Alamo Drafthouse Village on West Anderson. It’s an adults-only playground (18+ until 9 PM, 21+ after 9 PM) with an upscale menu, massive bar, bowling, ping pong, karaoke, shuffleboard and more.
Just shy of a year ago, our contributing blogger, Laura Darby, made a visit to The Goodnight in Austin. She was searching for a temporary replacement for The Highball, which was undergoing a long-term renovation project. Laura’s article, combined with the mixed comments left by readers, peaked my interest enough to want to check out The Goodnight for myself.
I trust Laura and value her candor. So, armed with specific questions based on the elements she felt were lacking during her visit last year, and keeping in mind the mixed comments, I set out to meet with David Goodnight, owner of his namesake.
I’ll share a portion of my Q & A with David at the end of this article, but first let me offer my own two cents on what I experienced at The Goodnight in Austin.
The Goodnight in Austin
You enter The Goodnight on the south end of the building. Classy furnishings and comfortable booths surround a massive, modern bar. Everything on the south end of The Goodnight centers on the restaurant and bar.
The Goodnight isn’t cheap, but it’s not unreasonably expensive compared to its peers in the city. Because of the pricing, generally you won’t find the hipsters here, or the average college student. What you will find are young professionals letting their hair down and having a good time. During the day, it isn’t uncommon to see tech giants like Google and Facebook holding lunch meetings here. And after work during happy hour (4-7 PM, M-F), the crowd is often a mixture of Austin’s movers and shakers.
Stepping past the bar and into the northern section of The Goodnight, an adults-only playground unfolds before you. You’ll find a room filled with billiard tables, shuffleboard and ping pong, where business casual-clad Austinites challenge one another over drinks. A 20-person karaoke room is available with a touch screen computerized system, and there is some sort of casino table near the bar. (The casino table seemed a bit awkward, but it was being used by patrons during my visit, so maybe it’s just me.)
To the right of the casino table, just past the fortune telling Zoltar, is an eight lane vintage bowling alley. The alley doesn’t have an electronic scoring system – like I said, it’s vintage. But we live in a world of tech, so download a bowling score app for your smartphone and have at it. The bowling balls are disguised as giant billiard balls, which is fun, and there is a massive hand-painted mural on the wall behind you.
For those who enjoy the outdoor experience, there is a comfortable covered patio adjacent to the building. What’s more, the fine folks at Geeks Who Drink have a trivia night here every Tuesday from 8-10 PM.
The Goodnight’s Issues Addressed
Laura’s original verdict about The Goodnight was mixed, as were the comments on her article. Both the article and comments included positives and negatives. Taking a look through Laura’s article and glancing at some online reviews given soon after the venue opened, I armed myself with some questions for owner David Goodnight.
David was refreshingly transparent about what hasn’t worked in the past and what he has done to make The Goodnight in Austin what it is today.
Eric: Early on, the food reviews were mixed. Some were excellent while others were, how shall we say, less than stellar.
David: When we first started out, there were really no recipes for the food, so the consistency was lacking. While some customers found their meals exceptional, others not so much. But we’ve got a new chef on staff now, Danny Bressler (of South Congress Cafe and Frank fame), and I couldn’t be happier with him. He’s very passionate. I can stand by our food 100%. (To The Goodnight’s credit, the Five Cheese Mac was incredible. We wished we had ordered two of them. $6/$4 during happy hour.)
Eric: Service, or lack thereof, seemed to be an issue when you first opened. What have you done to remedy this?
David: Our original General Manager was a great guy and he looked good on paper, but he really didn’t know how to handle everything we had going on. We have a lot going on at The Goodnight. The thing that is really unique about this place is that people will come here and parties will split up and do different things. A lot of those bad reviews came as a result of our original GM not knowing how to handle that. So I brought on a new AGM, Joshua Cleghorn, who has more of a bar background where parties splitting up throughout the venue is more common. We’re getting there. We’re still not at a hundred percent and I’m still not going to say it’s perfect, but no bar or restaurant in the country is.
Eric: The media has had a difficult time trying to describe The Goodnight. Some say you don’t know what you are, while others say you have too much going on. How would you describe The Goodnight?
David: It is tough to describe to this day. We’re not trying to be The Highball or any other place. We’re our own brand. I had one lady complain that there was too much to do. I was like, “Sorry, I don’t know what to do about that.” The Goodnight is everything under one roof. It’s a fun place to hang out with friends.
After visiting personally, I’d have to agree. If you take The Goodnight for what it is, an upscale restaurant/bar/playground where adults can go to relax, have a good time, meet with clients or friends and blow off some steam, it’s definitely a spot worth checking out.
Final Thoughts on The Goodnight in Austin
My wife Brittany and I were impressed with our experience at The Goodnight. The place was clean, people were having fun, the mac and cheese was off the chain good, and the service was great. And for the record, we arrived long before our meeting time, so no one would know who we were and we’d receive regular treatment. Straight up incognito style.
There were a lot of smiles on the faces of the people around us, something that I pay attention to when checking out a new place. We obviously weren’t the only ones enjoying ourselves.
All in all, we really liked The Goodnight and think you will too. Give this place a shot. If you visited early on and were not as impressed as you thought you’d be, try one more time. The Goodnight has made significant changes that merit a second look.
Have you been to The Goodnight recently? What are your thoughts?
Disclosure: The Goodnight picked up our lunch tab after my interview with David. All opinions are my own.