(Article Updated 6/12/2017)
Most Texans know what Happy Hour means — a few cold ones with friends after work and if you’re lucky, stale peanuts as a snack. Looking for a new twist? Blue Bonnet Cafe’s Pie Happy Hour in Marble Falls, Texas, offers a slice of pie and a drink for $3.50. Held Monday through Friday, it’s not just the locals who line up for a treat.
That’s what the Cafe is all about: Community. Wonderful things happen at the Blue Bonnet. Locals buy meals for active duty personnel, wait staff check up on regular customers and people come from all over to enjoy homemade pie. Hostess Terry Daughtry says, “The tourists, the outsiders, changed the look of the restaurant. People were coming in specifically for the pie.”
What might a hungry traveler find on the pie menu? Fruit, nut, creme and meringue pies including apple, cherry, pecan, coconut, banana and lemon. For chocolate lovers, the Cafe offers fudge, chocolate and German chocolate. If you love peanut butter, Blue Bonnet has that, too.
Pie Happy Hour’s secret weapon is Maura Dominguez. She’s baked the Cafe’s pies for 18 years. Since the inception of Pie Happy Hour, Dominguez produces 75 to 100 pies daily and double that amount on weekends. The mother of five proudly discloses, “This is my first job, and I like it so much, it will be my only job.”
Dominguez makes the pies from scratch without the help of measuring utensils. Brent Klett, Blue Bonnet Cafe’s manager, says, “She does everything by touch.” Dominguez is also responsible for making donuts, biscuits and breads.
Small in stature with a shy smile, Dominguez easily manages the Cafe’s bakery. Her work day begins at 5 a.m. and ends between 2 to 3 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday. Dominguez admits she doesn’t cook at home and allows family members to spoil her.
During Thanksgiving and Christmas, Dominguez stays busy making pre-ordered pies. In addition to the regular pie menu, Blue Bonnet Cafe offers a seasonal pumpkin pie. “Thanksgiving is our biggest, busiest time for pies. Typically we cut off all pre-sales on pies 4 to 5 days before Thanksgiving. We’ll have pie boxes stacked everywhere,” owner John Kemper says.
Blue Bonnet Cafe was built in 1929 on Main Street and moved to its present location on Hwy 281 in 1946. Kemper bought the establishment in
1981. About four years ago, Kemper and his wife, Brenda, brainstormed new ways to bring in customers during weekday afternoons.
“We thought, why not a Pie Happy Hour? It’s brought us a lot of attention, because I don’t know anybody else that has Pie Happy Hour,” Kemper explains.
Kemper recalls some funny pie stories. “I’ve seen lots of different people come in and they’ll order pie before their meal. I had one guy that ordered a whole coconut creme pie and sat there and ate the whole thing. That was his meal. He said, ‘Bring me a coconut creme pie.’ And he ate it right out of the pie shell.”
The Cafe’s success is due to Kemper’s fine-tuned people sense coupled with business savvy. “I enjoy my customers and my employees. The thing about [the Cafe] is we’re lucky that we have so much business, and that we’re always geared up for business. These waitresses and cooks, they’ll work six, eight hours straight. That’s pretty amazing. To this day, every day, I’m amazed at this place.”
Kemper adds, “It’s not a reflection of me, it’s a reflection of the employees. It’s very touching, because they work so hard.”
The good feelings and vibes are mutual. A waitress who wished to remain anonymous left a short, handwritten note, expressing that everyone who worked for Kemper felt the same way.
“John is a true hometown hero. He genuinely cares about all his employees, and the community as well. He has a heart as big as the history of Blue Bonnet.”
The next time the urge to eat pie hits or your sweet tooth calls, the Blue Bonnet Cafe awaits you. Instead of the typical Happy Hour, try some pie with good friends. Feeding customers and nurturing souls is what the Blue Bonnet Cafe excels at.
The Blue Bonnet Cafe is open seven days a week, Monday through Thursday (6 a.m. to 8 p.m.), Friday and Saturday (6 a.m. to 9 p.m.), and Sunday (6 a.m. to 1:45 p.m.). The Cafe is located at 211 Highway 281, Marble Falls, Texas 78654, with parking behind the establishment. Checks and cash (no credit cards) are accepted with an ATM on site for customers’ convenience. Pie Happy Hour is available Monday through Friday, from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. For more information about the Cafe, visit www.bluebonnetcafe.net or call (830) 693-2344.