The corner store at the intersection of FM 150 and FM 3237, which has been a gas station, convenience store and cafe for most of the past 30 years, is now a full-service restaurant and bar celebrating its first anniversary.
Hays City Store owners Travis and Tamra Tindol bought the property in October 2014. After five months of renovations, the couple opened their restaurant in March 2015.
“We initially kept a little store on the far side of the restaurant,” Tamra said, but she said they soon realized the space would be more valuable with additional seating. “So we tore the wall down [and] added three or four [more] tables.”
The menu at Hays City Store features a variety of Texas-style comfort foods, such as hamburgers, chicken-fried steak that is pan-fried in a cast-iron skillet, and freshly cut french fries. The grilled steak salad, fish tacos and chef Matt Burke’s chicken and sausage gumbo are also popular, Travis said.
“Our burgers are our biggest seller,” Tamra said, adding that the meat is ground daily at the restaurant, and the buns are delivered each morning by New World Bakery in Kyle. “We don’t buy anything frozen,” she said.
In addition to food, the restaurant features a sizeable drink menu featuring 12 beers on tap and a variety of mixed drinks.
Travis said he played football and other sports in high school and college, and he compares his love of working in the restaurant industry to his athletic background.
“It gives me that adrenaline rush when it’s busy. The camaraderie and the teamwork … it’s a lot of things that I really took out of sports,” he said.
The owners said they have about 40 years of combined experience in a variety of roles at establishments such as Z’Tejas and Salty Sow in Austin and Flores Mexican Restaurant in Dripping Springs.
“But we’re still young enough to put all the energy into it,” Travis said.
The outdoor seating area includes gathering spaces with fire pits, locally made furniture, a water feature, horseshoe pits and other games, as well as a stage for the occasional live music performance. The owners said plans are underway to add a rustic walk-up bar, modeled after those seen at dance halls in small towns throughout Texas.
“A lot of the [younger] staff doesn’t know the reference, but I’ll tell them, ‘We want this to be the Hays County [version of] “Cheers,”’” Travis said.
Wayne “Whistler” Higgins and Amanda Woodell of Driftwood, who eat at Hays City Store at least three or four times a week, said they appreciate the personable service and the variety of menu options.
“We have yet to find anything that wasn’t just excellent, as far as the food goes,” Higgins said. “[Amanda] will say, ‘Let’s go to town and eat,’ and I don’t even ask [where]. We just come here.”