It turns out the news that East Side Showroom is closing on July 24, on the heels of its seventh anniversary, isn’t all bad. The bar announced on Facebook today that the team that runs it has a new concept in mind for the space: Ah Sing Den.
“As seven year itches tend to ignite in us a need to embark on change, we hope you will join us in a new era of more unforgettable memories, love stories, and friendships,” the Facebook page reads. “Before summer’s end, we will be honored to host you again at the new” Ah Sing Den.
Along with the small paragraph about the upcoming bar, East Side Showroom’s Facebook post also includes a quote from Charles Dickens — “The pain of parting is nothing to the joy of meeting again” — that hints at the meaning behind the unusual name.
The famous nineteenth-century writer, ever the chronicler of the Victorian era’s gloomier side, featured a real London opium den run by a man named Ah Sing in the Dickens’ novel “The Mystery of Edwin Drood.” Opium dens, where the poppy-derived drug was sold and smoked, were common in the 1800s. This rich history behind the name Ah Sing Den suggests the new concept will be tied to that time period — in all the best, no-actual-opium-sold-here kind of ways, of course.
But even though we’ll have somewhere new to go in place of East Side Showroom, the closing of this beloved East Sixth Street spot feels, as Statesman food writer Matthew Odam noted last week, like the “end of an era.” The Showroom, after all, was one of the first places to introduce Austin to well-made classic cocktails. Bid adieu at a party on July 24.