An iconic Spicewood treasure

Opened by Willie Nelson's stage manager of 34 years, Randall "Poodie" Locke, Poodie's Hilltop Roadhouse has been a Spicewood bar and music venue since 2002.

Known for its atmosphere, sunset views, great food and traditional Texas country music, Poodie's has been home to music artists such as Willie Nelson, Toby Keith, Kevin Fowler and Cross Canadian Ragweed.

"It's not just a bar; it's an experience," owner Sharon Burke said. "It's a historical establishment as part of the Hill Country."

After settling in Briarcliff, Poodie purchased the bar in 1998. Owner Sharon Burke took over the venue in 2006 and has been the sole proprietor since Poodie's death in 2009.

Every week Poodie's is host to several live Texas country music events. Steak and Songwriter's Night, which occurs every Monday at 6:30 p.m., gives local talent, as well as renowned country music writers, an opportunity to showcase their new original music.

"We always keep a seat for the new songwriter," Burke said. "Texas is probably the most respectful of the songwriter. We really support live, original music."

It is not uncommon to see popular Austin musicians stop by unannounced during "No Bad Wednesdays" open mic night, which begins at 7 p.m. Willie Nelson has been known to come support, eat and watch some of his friends perform, Burke said.

"Every walk of life hangs out in this bar," Burke said. "It doesn't really matter what economic or social class you've come from; it just kind of washes away when you walk in."

Since becoming sole proprietor, Burke has initiated many cosmetic and internal changes to the bar. Of the most notable, the shaded two-tiered deck outside the bar allows patrons to view the skyline or watch the sunset. The quality of the sound system has also been dramatically improved, Burke said.

The most recent change to the bar occurred July 4, 2012, when Poodie's initiated a smoking ban inside the bar. This ban was enacted because of health concerns for employees and musicians, Burke said. Although smoking is not allowed inside the bar, smokers can also enjoy the evening sunset from the deck.

Pictures of Poodie with Willie Nelson and other well-known artists adorn the walls of the bar to serve as a reminder of the past and a goal for the future.

"I think we keep the tradition of Texas music," Burke said. "We keep the heritage and what this bar represents. If you don't have places like this, you don't have places where musicians get to go on and move on from."

It is the love of tradition that keeps Burke striving to keep Poodie's a cornerstone in the community.

"I loved the way it felt when I came down here. I loved the music. I loved the area. I loved the lifestyle," Burke said.

Poodie's Hilltop Roadhouse, 22308 Hwy. 71, Spicewood, 264-0318,