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The Raw Deal Collection

Identifier: SWWC-156

Scope and Contents

The documents and photographs comprising The Raw Deal Collection span 1972-1983 and document the activities and operation of “The Raw Deal” and “Another Raw Deal” restaurants in Austin, Texas. The collection is arranged into two series: Textual Materials and Photographs. Photographs comprise the bulk of the collection and document the diversity of patrons who frequented The Raw Deal. In the 1970s and early 1980s, The Raw Deal became a symposium of sorts for notable writers, journalists, artists, musicians, and politicians in Austin. The affordability of the restaurant and the no-frills atmosphere also resulting in a convergence of individuals from varied socioeconomic backgrounds.

The Textual Materials series contains four sub-series: Ephemera, Correspondence, Newsprint, and Artwork. Ephemera materials include announcements, press releases, work schedules, recipes, and flyers. A notable inclusion is the official program containing the oath of office former Texas Governor Ann Richards took for the Texas State Treasurer elected position, as Richards opted to take her oath of office inside The Raw Deal restaurant.

Correspondence in the collection includes letters and postcards sent to The Raw Deal restaurant and its owners. This sub-series is primarily composed of correspondence between co-owner Fletcher Boone and public officials who frequented the restaurant, such as Bob Bullock and Jim Hightower. Newsprint materials consist of published articles and reviews of The Raw Deal, as well as articles about patrons such as Ann Richards, Dan Jenkins, Gerry Goldstein, and Gary Cartwright. Artwork in the collection was used to advertise and decorate The Raw Deal, Another Raw Deal, and The Armadillo World Headquarters. Eddie Wilson, the owner of The Armadillo World Headquarters, was the original owner of The Raw Deal and subsequently sold it to frequent patrons Fletcher Boone and Jim “Lopez” Smitham. The Photographs series contains a large number of both loose and framed photographs documenting the patrons, activities, and building facilities of The Raw Deal.

Photographs include notable persons such as Ann Richards, David Richards, Bob Bullock, Ralph Yarborough, Kenneth Threadgill, co-owners Fletcher Boone and Jim “Lopez” Smitham, Bob Armstrong, musician Jerry Jeff Walker, and journalist Kay Northcott.


  • 1972-1983


Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Materials from the Wittliff Collections are made available for use in research, teaching, and private study. The user assumes responsibility for determining copyright status, obtaining permission to publish, and abiding by U.S. copyright laws.

Historical Note

The Raw Deal restaurant in Austin, Texas, located at 605 Sabine Street, was originally founded by Eddie Wilson, also the founder of the influential and famous Armadillo World Headquarters — the Austin, Texas music hall converted from an abandoned National Guard Armory in 1970 which hosted burgeoning musical stars such as Jerry Jeff Walker, Willie Nelson, Ray Charles, Stevie Ray Vaughan, and Frank Zappa. He subsequently sold The Raw Deal restaurant to regulars Fletcher Boone and Jim “Lopez” Smitham.

In the late 1970s and early 1980s, The Raw Deal (and its second expanded location Another Raw Deal) was an intimate gathering space for Austinites from diverse backgrounds. Musicians, politicians, public officials, writers, and Austin personalities became regulars at the no-nonsense no-frills restaurant — it catered to both the hippie culture incubated by the Armadillo World Headquarters and provided an escape for the professional political hub of downtown Austin. Meal prices ranged from $1 to $5, and self-service was the norm. The restaurant also served a wide variety of beers, allowed open table wine service, sported a jukebox, and allowed musicians to perform — occasionally.

In contrast to the Armadillo World Headquarters, music was generally not allowed, nor were loud arguments or backgammon. While it may seem odd to modern observers that such a simple game as backgammon would be banned, there was a gambling culture that accompanied the game at the time. Because of the small space, musicians frequently performed impromptu acoustic sets outside on the street or patio. Patrons ranged from adult politicians seeking refuge from the capitol, musicians and scenesters (both young and old), artists, and even children. The main attraction of The Raw Deal wasn’t the food — opinions ranged from laudable to terrible at the extremes with no middle ground — but the unique mix of individuals which created a philosophical symposium salon atmosphere that reflected the entirety of Austin culture.


5 Linear Feet

8 boxes (6 document boxes, 2 oversize boxes, 1 framed item)

Language of Materials


Metadata Rights Declarations

  • The descriptive data created for this finding aid is licensed under the CC0 Creative Commons license and is free for use without restriction.


The Raw Deal Collection documents the activities and operation of “The Raw Deal” and “Another Raw Deal” restaurants in Austin, Texas through ephemera, correspondence, artwork, and a large number of photographs.

Physical Location

Materials may be stored off-site. Advance notice is required for use:

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Lily Boone, 2010.

Guide to The Raw Deal Collection
Nathan Brown
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Revision Statements

  • 2023: Revised for ArchivesSpace by Nathan Brown.

Repository Details

Part of the The Wittliff Collections Repository

601 University Drive
San Marcos Texas 78666 USA