Iconic Austin restaurant Dirty Martin's could close due to transit project

The intersection of Neuces and Guadalupe is where some say you can find the best burger in town.

"The best cheeseburgers in Austin," said Valentin Franco, who’s been working at Dirty Martin’s for 23 years. "It makes me feel good when I see people eating here."

Owner Mark Nemir said they’ve had many long-term employees, like Franco, and long-term customers as well. "I’ve seen people come in as children and then come in with their children," Nemir said. "I mean it’s that kind of a deal."

Dirty Martin’s has been serving up burgers since 1926. Nemir’s grandfather owned the place years before Nemir, who took ownership 33 years ago. Nemir is hoping to continue serving up hamburgers with a side of history, but the restaurant’s future is unclear.

In October, he was informed that CapMetro’s proposed Orange Line would come right through their property. Funding for Project Connect was approved by voters in November 2020. The goal behind the project is to better connect different sections of Austin as population booms. 

In a statement provided to FOX 7, a spokesperson for CapMetro said the following: 

"The Project Connect program was taken through a community engagement process to identify the locally preferred alternative, before being adopted by the CapMetro Board and Austin City Council and taken to Austin voters who approved a historic investment in transit. CapMetro is working with partners at the Austin Transit Partnership and City of Austin to implement the Project Connect program, as we committed to voters we would. We are working through the design process, which involves extensive community engagement, including with property owners and tenants along the routes. All three partners value the community’s feedback, and we will continue to use that feedback to shape the transit system."

The plan is still very much in the early stages. According to CapMetro, design of the line is expected to be 30% complete by late summer. There is no date set for construction. With the details still being sorted out, Nemir said they plan to put together a petition and gather community signatures in support of their business. 

"Maybe this thing doesn’t have to come through this piece of property," said Nemir. "If the people in this community want this place to stay, I think they can make it happen; I can’t do it alone and I don’t want to do it alone."

Last week, the Central Austin Neighborhood Planning Advisory Committee, voted to take a position on the issue. They provided the following statement to FOX 7:

"CANPAC (Central Austin Neighborhood Planning Advisory Committee) supports the preservation of Dirty Martin’s Place and other establishments in the area of 29th St. and Guadalupe in order to maintain culturally significant fabric of the neighborhood. CANPAC supports alternative routes or methods to avoid demolition of these existing structures."

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