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When the Cisneros family founded Sunny Veil, East Austin’s first bakery, they rode their horses from East Seventh Street to bring freshly baked bread and brunch to the Driskill Hotel.
“Generations of generations have come through here,” said Diana Cisneros, who co-owns the restaurant with her husband. “Grandparents come in with their kids and remember their childhood memories.”
After moving to East Sixth Street in 1943 it was renamed Cisco’s Restaurant Bakery & Bar, becoming a hangout for former president Lyndon B. Johnson. The restaurant is still frequented by football star Earl Campbell.
Hector Martinez, assistant manager at Cisco’s, has worked at the restaurant for more than 20 years. With his mother working as a Cisco’s cook, he grew up with the Cisneros family. He referred to the restaurant as the “land of the Mexicas” because it is one of the few businesses left for Spanish speakers.
According to city demographer Ryan Robinson, almost all of central east Austin and vast stretches of south central Austin have experienced increases in the white population during the last decade. He predicts the city will experience a possible acceleration of this trend.
“There used to be only families [in the neighborhood] and we used to know everyone and now we have no idea,” Martinez said. “This is the only place left where you can enjoy a meal from the old times. They remodeled it and people go out of business.”
Cisneros said she has watched the demolition of small businesses to make room for bigger complexes. As the East Austin landscape continues to change, the recipes of Cisco’s Tex-Mex cuisine and ”migas” have remained the same for nearly a century.
“We’re not going to change,” Cisneros said. “But these walls have seen so much — there’s always so much camaraderie and the cooks have been with us for more than 20 years.”