Accio Jacksons!

An 11-inch holly blog with a phoenix feather core

Ghost Town

by William on 2008-02-07

The sign for Stagecoach Inn

So, you read about how our car broke last weekend? Our original plans were to spend the weekend in Waco and Dallas with my parents. And that didnʼt happen. But Saturday night, since the car was fixed and we had it back, we decided to salvage part of our original plan and go eat dinner in Salado, which is about 45 minutes north of Austin on I-35.

I first got the idea to go on a date to Salado in mid-December, but we never really found a good time to do it. This weekend would have been perfect because we were on our way to Waco anyway. When I first investigated I decided I wanted to take Rebecca to a restaurant called Salado Mansion.

There is a reason that link is to the Internet Archive.

The weather was beautiful, and only the tiniest bit chilly that fateful evening. We made the drive to Salado in very good time. While I didnʼt have written directions, I figured it was easy enough to find. Living in the I-35 corridor, I had driven through Salado several times. It is a small town.

I was driving down Main St and had almost driven past the restaurant, however, when Rebecca saw the sign. I turned to the right into a gravel parking lot and noticed that there were no other cars there. And it appeared that the lights were off in the restaurant.

I called the restaurant from the car and got a message from the operator that the number was no longer in service. Rebecca and I walked up to the building to find tables turned upside down on the porch and the door blocked by bright orange tape. Clearly the place was closed. As we drove away Rebecca saw the “For Sale” sign in the front.

So, letʼs recap. We are hungry and driving down Main St in Salado, Texas 45 minutes away from home. Also itʼs dark. And we donʼt know the names of any other restaurants in the town.

As we were driving, looking for a place to eat, Rebecca spotted a restaurant, which I drove past, then turned around, then parked at. We had no idea what kind of restaurant it was, only that it was called “The Range”. I tried to gauge the price based on the kind of cars parked in the lot. There was a decent distribution: a Lexus, a BMW, a Honda, a Toyota, among others. I had no idea what we were getting ourselves into.

We passed an elderly couple who had just left The Range. Fortunately, there was a menu posted next to the front door. It turned out to be a rather ritzy (for Salado) restaurant, the kind where you can get “Grilled Filet of Beef over Gratin Dauphinoise Potatoes with Carmelized Onion Sauce and Fresh Veggies” for $40. We decided to pass.

Back in the car, we started driving the other direction on Main St. In just under a minute we came to the end of the city. The buildings just stopped abruptly while the road continued on through the countryside. Rebecca saw what appeared to be a hotel, and we thought (or hoped) there would be a restaurant in it, or next door. I parked.

We were right. We had arrived at the Stagecoach Inn.

This place looked like it had not been redecorated since the late 80s. It was hard to tell where the dark green floral-print curtains ended and where the matching, dark green floral print wallpaper began. Rebecca and I were easily the youngest people in the room. By about thirty years.

Hush puppies

Someone brought us hush puppies, but not the spherical kind; these were shaped like fat cigars. Or hot dogs. Or small cobs of corn. They were tasty. Then our waitress came. She was wearing a nametag that read, “Dorothy - 44 years”. It appears she had made a career of it. And she looked like you wouldnʼt want to mess with her or she would punch you in the face with a fistful of grandmotherly love.

She recited the menu to us.

Did you hear that right? She recited the menu to us! It was awesome. Rebecca had the chicken-fried steak and I had the fried chicken. It was very good. Plus, dinner included a fruit or shrimp cocktail, a side salad, green beans, twice-baked potatoes, some kind of corn pudding, and dessert. I learned a new word, too: aspic.

So we got dinner after all, even though we were making our contingency plans on the spot. It was a fun evening.

William and Rebecca outside Stagecoach Inn