Tag Archives: Hill Country Sun

Pie Happy Hour at the Blue Bonnet Cafe in Marble Falls, Texas

A tempting, delicious slice of cherry pie.
A tempting, delicious slice of cherry pie.

Blue Bonnet Cafe on Foodio54

Blue Bonnet Cafe on Urbanspoon
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.

Maura Dominguez
Maura Dominguez

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

Blue Bonnet Cafe - Marble Falls, Texas
Blue Bonnet Cafe – Marble Falls, Texas

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.”

Serving Pie Happy Hour
Serving Pie Happy Hour

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.

Takeaway

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Miz Kitty Was the Cat’s Meow in Luckenbach, Texas

This article was written and subsequently published in the Hill Country Sun (2009), a regional Texas magazine. Sadly, Miz Kitty was put to sleep a few years after I wrote about her. In her memory, we will keep the famous Luckenbach cat alive! Thanks to Bobbie McDaniel and Hayden Whittington for being such gracious hosts when we visited.

Willie and Waylon aren’t the only famous ties to Luckenbach, Texas. Miz Kitty is the cool cat presiding over town these days. Proudly known as the most photographed cat in Gillespie County, she’s captured the hearts of Luckenbach’s caretakers and the folks who visit.

Miz Kitty
Miz Kitty

According to Bobbi McDaniel, Luckenbach’s General Store Manager, Miz Kitty showed up in January, 2005. “Some unbeknownst character who obviously didn’t know what they had dumped her on our doorstep.”

A vet confirmed the small feline was about one year of age. Already under the cat’s spell, McDaniel paid for spaying and vaccinations, and named her young protege Miz Kitty.

“Miz Kitty presides over the General Store. She puts herself in every night before the bar closes. Some nights she doesn’t, so she stays out all night. This doesn’t happen often, though. Besides, it’s her job to keep the mouse population at bay!” McDaniel says.

The nonchalant Miz Kitty is known by a few other names. “We call her our ‘Boss’ in the store,” McDaniel winks. “She’s also known as our mascot.” As Miz Kitty lies motionless on a counter or display case, visitors often mistake her for a stuffed animal.

McDaniel explains how Miz Kitty fools customers. “A man came in the store one day, during a pretty busy weekend. He was standing next to a fairly high display cabinet, talking to a couple of his friends. Miz Kitty was laying on top of the cabinet. He had his back to the cabinet and she was reaching out with her paw and very gently tapping his head. He kept brushing his hand over his head like he thought it was a fly or something. She did this three or four times, and everyone else was just watching and laughing! Finally, he turned around and [Miz Kitty] stood up and scared him to death. He jumped and yelled and it was so hilarious. His friends and everyone else in the store just laughed and laughed.”

Folks are naturally drawn to Miz Kitty, and stop to take her picture before doing anything else. “People have been nice enough to send us several pictures that they’ve taken of her while here, and we also find them posted to websites and blogs periodically,” McDaniel says.

Bobbi McDaniel & Miz Kitty
Bobbi McDaniel & Miz Kitty

How does Miz Kitty accept all the love and attention she receives? Very well, according to McDaniel.  “She has been cuddled, coddled, man-handled by small kiddos, chased by dogs, and she’s swiped a few of those dogs across the nose, too.“

Hayden Whittington, another Luckenbach employee, says his dog would agree. “She’s gotten used to him, but if he gets too close, she’ll get him.”

Luckenbach was founded in 1849 as a trading post. The little burg quietly flourished and by 1886, August Engel established a post office within the general store. A cotton gin, blacksmith shop and school were opened between 1879 and 1885.

By 1970, the Engel family put Luckenbach up for sale. Hondo Crouch, Guich Koock and Kathy Morgan purchased the town and worked to put Luckenbach back on the map. In 1973, Jerry Jeff Walker recorded Viva Terlingua in the town’s dance hall. When the legendary album went gold, more musicians flocked to experience Luckenbach’s magic.

Soon after, Waylon Jennings’ and Willie Nelson’s recording “Luckenbach Texas (Back to the Basics)” immortalized the town, enticing tourists from around the world.

Hayden Whittington, Luckenbach's Master of Duh-Fence, & Miz Kitty
Hayden Whittington, Luckenbach's Master of Duh-Fence, & Miz Kitty

Miz Kitty never met Waylon, and Willie hasn’t made it back to Luckenbach in the recent past. However, Paula Nelson (Willie’s daughter) knows Miz Kitty, along with Noel Haggard (Merle’s son), Billy Joe Shaver and Gary P. Nunn. Miz Kitty doesn’t stick around once the music starts, but she enjoys watching musicians set up.

True to type, Miz Kitty successfully hid from McDaniel the morning of her interview. Luckily, Whittington spotted the wily feline, scooping her into his arms as the interview and photography session began.

Luckenbach is all about getting back to the basics in life. The community is casual, friendly and everyone is greeted with open arms and big smiles. Course, any establishment who’d appoint an adopted cat as their “Boss” has to be pretty darn special.

Takeaway

Luckenbach is located in Gillespie County at 412 Luckenbach Town Loop, Fredericksburg, Texas 78624. (The location is off RR 1376, about 10 miles southeast of Fredericksburg.) The community holds regular live music and entertainment events – be sure to sign up for the newsletter, The Luckenbach Moon, to find out what’s going on in town. The General Store is packed with souvenirs and historical displays. There are outdoor seating areas, a bar behind the General Store, and a dance hall. Thursday through Sunday, the Luckenbach Feed Lot serves BBQ, burgers and other fixings beginning at 11 a.m. Luckenbach opens daily at 9 a.m. For more information, call (888) 311-8990 or visit www.luckenbachtexas.com.