Photographs by Erin Holsonback
Portrait by Claire Schaper
Chris McCray and Jantzen Matzdorf
McCray and Co.
Abraham Kennedy crossed the Rio Grande at age 15 with a small pack and a big dream: to own a restaurant. He worked his way through the service industry, starting as a waiter and eventually opening the restaurant he once longed for. Kennedy’s bright pink South Austin restaurant, named El Gallo, became one of Austin’s most frequented Tex-Mex spots.
After the success of his business, Kennedy built a villa in Heritage Oaks, not far from Riverside Drive, where his family, two maids and a priest resided. To keep Kennedy’s spirit alive, new owner and real estate guru Jantzen Matzdorff partnered with interior design studio McCray & Co. to give the space new life, while preserving its unique history.
Renamed “Casa Cartel,” the 6,000-square-foot villa – now Matzdorff’s personal residence and available for short-term rental – has become a vibrantly-hued retreat in the heart of the city. McCray and Matzdorff traveled to the interior of Mexico, where they sourced antiques and handmade items in keeping with the original space. In addition to McCray and Matzdorff the project team also included Brittany Wheeler and Positive Construction.
Casa Cartel’s most notable feature is the living room’s striking 20-foot custom mural painted by Curiot Tlalpazotl. This painting, in addition to a central courtyard, intricate tile work, serape-upholstered cushioning and textured chandeliers make this a space that transports and inspires. – ABBY MOORE