Viva Les Amis - Official Site for the Documentary Film

History of Les Amis Café

Austin, Texas

Newman at the Register On May 7, 1970, Les Amis Cafe opened at 24th street and Nueces - one block from the University of Texas. The café, started by Michael Beaudette and Ralph McElroy, began as an asphalt parking lot with some chairs and tables "to watch the girls go by." Newman Stribling began work as the building janitor and quickly became manager of Les Amis Café in 1970.

Of the thousands of customers that frequented the restaurant, it's rumored that Dennis Hopper visited the café, and that Art Garfunkel and Jack Nicholson ran off with two of the waitresses for a night. During the Vietnam war, rioters took refuge at the café and tear gas drifted onto the patio, leaving Newman with numerous walked checks. Customers included local musicians like Rocky Erickson, and during the 1980's, members of the bands The Big Boys, the Butthole Surfers and Bad Mother Goose were often hanging out at Les Amis.

Les Amis Les Amis witnessed the birth of the movie, Slacker, and three scenes were shot at the tables of Les Amis. Richard Linklater, director of Slacker, and Lee Daniel, cinematographer of Slacker, completed the film while living next to door to Les Amis. Organizations such as The Austin Film Society had meetings at the cafe in its early days.

During the 1990's, a booming economy and steep rent increases caused Newman to struggle to keep the café financially stable. Les Amis Café closed in July of 1997. In 1998, Starbucks opened on the grounds of what once was Les Amis Cafe.

Les Amis Café 1988 Les Amis Cafe 1988
Les Amis Café, now Starbucks 2004 Starbucks 2004