Austin’s Cisco’s Bakery Has Long Political History

March 5, 2010

The American Statesman’s irrepressible John Kelso rendered a great public service this week by enlightening  the uninitiated about the very special place that Cisco’s Bakery on East 6th Street holds in the cultural fabric of Austin.  

I can testify to John’s suggestion that there was a time when, if you wanted the East Austin vote, you went to see Rudy Cisneros, the legendary Godfather  of  Cisco’s, who held court daily at a round table plastered with business cards. I remember well that when I came to Austin in 1962 to work in John  B. Connally’s original campaign for Governor, Cisco’s did indeed serve as our Eastside  headquarters. And through the years it has remained a  colorful mecca for politicians, fellow travellers and members of the media. Hard right conservatives and bleeding liberals alike shed philosphies  there  to gulp down breakfast migas, refried beans and heart-stopping biscuits while sharing the latest dirt. Or ditto with fajitas at lunch.  And the atmosphere is made all the richer by the plentiful presence of neighborhood natives.

I am blessed with a special personal attachment to Cisco’s. When GCI Global of New York merged with Read-Poland Associates, the public relations firm that I headed for 50 years, my new partners Jeff Hunt and Bob Pearson presented me with my own table in the restaurant as part of the celebration.  It can be found dead ahead on the way to the backroom, just beneath photos of such political luminaries as President Lyndon B. Johnson,  Congressman Jake Pickle, Governor  Bill Clements and Governor Connally. 

As noted by John, Rudy’s son Clovis blessedly has maintained the unchanged tradition and decor of Cisco’s, including such signs as “We do not have a non-tipping section”. I hope to share more Rudy stories in the future. For now, one more tidbit: those yellow squeeze bottles on the tables aren’t mustard; they contain liquid butter–better to soak the biscuits and clog the arteries. 

—Julian Read

Footnote: After authors Mark Halperin and John Heilemann discussed their best seller book Game Change: Obama and the Clintons, McCain and Palin at the LBJ Library later in the week, Halperin  commented how much the two enjoy coming to Austin, then added that he planned to go to Cisco’s before he left town.

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