Abraham Kennedy came to Austin with dreams of owning a restaurant. He worked his way through the service industry and, in 1957, opened the bright-pink El Gallo – a now-legendary Tex-Mex spot. Following the success of his business, Kennedy built a 6,000-square-foot villa in East Austin, where it became a gathering place for friends, family, and politicians alike.
Fast-forward to 2016, and the once-beautiful home was in desperate need of repair. Local real estate developer Jantzen Matzdorff purchased it from the Kennedy family, with the promise that he would give it new life. Jantzen enlisted us to assist with the task.
We jokingly dubbed the space “Casa Cartel" because of its opulence, and the name stuck. The home was transferred with existing furnishings, and we kept a great deal of it. We traveled to Mexico several times to collect artifacts for the space, and we worked with artisans there to make custom furniture, lighting, and cabinets. We gutted the kitchen and replaced flooring. We wanted the home to feel textured, vibrant, transformative.
One of our favorite things at Casa Cartel is the 20-foot mural in the living room by the artist Curiot Tlalpazotl. He spent an evening in the space to catch the vibe, and then he just went to town. The effect is stunning.
Sadly, Jantzen sold Casa Cartel in 2020 to a new owner, but it's still available for short-term rental through Airbnb Plus and on Casa Cartel’s website.
Residential Interior Design
Pool Surround Design
Custom Artwork + Decor