Wednesday, May 10, 2017

The Great Outdoors

Excerpt from New Braunfels Herald-Zeitung by Robin Blackburn, May 2016

Gristmill River Restaurant & Bar
One of the blessings of life in Central Texas is the spring and early summer weather. Sunny days and balmy nights beckon us outdoors for camping, picnics, parties, fishing, swimming, tubing, hiking or simply taking a walk through the park or downtown.
This time of year is also perfect for enjoying outdoor dining. New Braunfels residents have plenty of options when it comes to restaurants with patio seating — from casual to upscale. And with the variety of restaurants New Braunfels has to offer, you can eat Southern comfort food, seafood and more in the great outdoors.

"People have an innate desire to be in nature, and the closest they can get is dining outside," said Mary Jane Nalley, co-owner of The Gristmill in Gruene. "It's always kind of been a thing, I think. You can't usually go for a walk in the woods once a week. And there's a part of us that wants to connect with nature, even if you don't feel it consciously."

Nalley said that particularly with today's hightech, fast-paced lifestyle, people sometimes want to get away from it all and relax in the fresh air and feel more in touch with nature.
Cantina del Rio

Particularly in Central Texas, Nalley said, outdoor dining is popular because of the climate.

"Our weather, for the most part, is really nice," she said, noting that up north when winters are longer and colder than they typically are in this area, outdoor dining is harder to find and harder to enjoy.

Moreover, she said, "I think dining is a big part of people's entertainment these days, and the more experiential you can make it, the more enjoyable it is."

For example, people eating at tables on the sidewalk outside a downtown restaurant can enjoy people-watching and soaking in the atmosphere, and diners on a patio out in the country can find shade in a canopy of trees and enjoy being outdoors, Nalley said.

The Gristmill itself has vast outdoor seating capacity — about 300 people can dine among the trees at the historic site. Nalley said there are several different areas outside, which keeps diners from feeling like they're in a huge crowd. There is an outdoor biergarten where bands play on the weekends, dining areas covered by trees provide shade and smaller covered outdoor areas.

"It sort of has a treehouse effect," Nalley said. "It overhangs the bluffs, with the river below, and it's almost like being in the woods.

"It's really comfortable to be out there," she said. "You can hear the birds and the river."
The River House
Tucked away off of the main road in Gruene is The River House, whose outdoor dining area can seat about 50 people. The recently expanded patio also includes a bar where patrons can order beer and wine, and there's live music on the patio on Sundays. The patio backs up to a wooded area, putting nature within reach.

"There are times when you'll see 30 to 40 deer hanging out back there grazing," said Chef Collin Campion.

The outdoor area is particularly popular this time of year, Campion said. "For dinner, we fill this area up before we fill the inside."

Campion said people enjoy the patio for its nice, simple feel and relaxing atmosphere.

"This is a nice place to meet up and take a break from shopping," he said.

No matter what part of town you're in or what kind of food you're craving, take the opportunity to enjoy some of New Braunfels' outdoor dining spots. With the variety of cuisine and settings available, you have plenty of chances to get in touch with nature with food and friends.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Disney Artist Designs Gruene Hall Poster for Loretta Lynn!

"My name is Paul Briggs and I'm a big fan of Gruene Hall"....  We get a lot of emails that start out this way, but what we read next was very unexpected and frankly, pretty exciting.

You see, Paul Briggs, a San Antonio native and proud Texan, has been working with Disney Animation for the past 20 years. He's worked on Disney films Moana (2016), Big Hero 6 (2014), Frozen (2013), Tangled (2010) and many more.

Upon a recent visit, Paul stopped in Gruene Hall to see Pat Green. As fate would have it, the next day in SA, Paul happened upon some Gruene Hall posters at a local eatery. Paul wrote, "..and it occurred to me that I would love to do something for Gruene Hall. ..If you would be interested..."

Um, YEAH we're interested!!

Paul responded and said that he would "really love to start with the Loretta Lynn show coming up in March."  The next thing we knew, we received the most beautiful poster art. We passed it by Loretta's management who gave quick approval and we went to print.

220 posters arrived the afternoon of her first show and they looked AMAZING!

Paul flew to Texas to see the show and was surprised to be able to meet the "Honky Tonk Girl" in person. Miss Loretta Lynn herself noted that "Of all the posters done for me, this one's my favorite."

Turns out they have even decided to hang the poster in her museum!

As expected, the posters sold out about as quickly as the doors opened, but we look forward to seeing future Gruene Hall posters designed by this very talented Disney artist / proud Texan.

...Come to think of it, we should probably send that San Antonio restaurant a thank you note!

Thursday, December 1, 2016

George Strait Returns to Gruene Hall!

Back where it all began, George Strait returned to New Braunfels' Gruene Hall Wednesday night (Nov. 16.) and performed a nearly two-hour set in celebration of Strait Out of the Box: Part 2, available Friday, Nov. 18 exclusively at Walmart and (HERE).

Taking the stage just after 7 p.m., The King of Country Music with his band, The Ace in the Hole Band, kicked off the surprise performance with "Here For A Good Time," a song Strait co-wrote with his son, Bubba Strait, and Dean Dillon.

For the first time, Strait performed the two brand new songs from Friday’s upcoming release, “Kicked Outta Country” and “You Gotta Go Through Hell,” both of which he co-wrote.

As awareness of the surprise show grew, a frenzy erupted in the historic township with fans flocking to the dancehall to see and hear Strait through the dusty side screens of Gruene Hall. 

 As the show came to a close, Strait paused for a moment – taking it all in – before walking one final time along the stage’s rim thanking those fans that helped celebrate his return to the storied hall.

Fans wanting to see Strait live will be able to purchase tickets to 2017’s newly announced 2 Nights of Number 1’s, a limited-engagement concert series at T-Mobile Arena across four weekends (April 7-8; July 28-29; Sept. 1-2; Dec. 8-9), with tickets on sale beginning Friday, Dec. 2 at

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Get in the SWING!

Written by swing dance teacher, Michelle Simmonds; Photo by Pauline Stevens for Moxie Magazine

This spring, I am starting my ninth year of teaching a one-hour Swing Dance class each week at Gruene Hall. In those years, I have seen people of all ages come and dance, from little children to men and women in their 70'S and 80'S. My parents, Lew and Pat Simmonds, have been loving my class for years, and they are in their early 70'S.

What I notice is how much fun people are having while getting a great cardio workout! They don't even realize they are exercising! Swing dancing strengthens muscles, improves eye-hand coordination and improves balance and flexibility. You might even lose a few pounds having all that fun!

Listening to music you enjoy causes your brain to release dopamine, a "feel-good" neurotransmitter. When you combine this with dance, you can improve the quality of your life in numerous ways:

  • Reduce stress and anxiety 
  • Lift your mood 
  • Boost your health 
  • Enjoy better sleep 

Dancing has a huge beneficial effect on our brains. A New England Journal of Medicine study of 11 physical activities found that dancing was the only one that lowered dementia risk by a whopping 76 percent.

What are you waiting for? Grab a partner and head to Gruene Hall and get your swing on! It's the most fun you'll ever have getting in shape!

Join Michelle at Gruene Hall during the summer months on Tuesday evenings at 6:00. The hour-long class is followed by live music with Two Tons of Steel. It's a great way to practice your moves!

Click here for more information. 

Friday, April 1, 2016


We are excited to announce that Gruene Antique Company will celebrate 30 years in business this year! The shop, which is housed in one of the many historic buildings in downtown Gruene, opened its doors in July of 1986 by current owners Pat Molak and Mary Jane Nalley.

Gruene Antique Company (GAC) will celebrate this milestone in several ways including a newly refurbished website, in store promotions and celebratory merchandise. The new website at offers visitors an easy to navigate experience with professional photography, a virtual tour and other additional features.

In addition to the new website, GAC will hold an Anniversary Sale from Monday, April 18th to Sunday, April 24th. The sale will offer 15% off a single item of $30 of more, with some exclusions applying. GAC is also selling commemorative 30th Anniversary Christmas ornaments as well as t-shirts.  

Gruene Antique Company is fashioned in the form of an antique mall in that the store houses 21 different individual vendors within the 6500 sq. ft. space. This offers antique shoppers much more variety in their treasure hunting than if you were to visit the shop of just one dealer.

The setting of Gruene Antique Company also adds to the uniqueness of the store. Housed in the HD Gruene Mercantile building which was built in 1904, much of the original interior remains intact and accentuates the feeling of days gone by. Built originally by Henry D. Gruene as a place where tenant farmers could buy and sell their wares, the building’s function remains quite the same today.

The building, along with many others in the surrounding area of historic Gruene, is a Recorded Texas Historic Landmark and was entered in the National Register of Historic Places in 1975. Today, the store is open daily at 10am and allows its many annual customers to take a walk back in time when they visit.

For more information on Gruene Antique Company, please visit the new site at

Monday, January 12, 2015

Celebrate Valentine's Day in Gruene!

Looking for the perfect way to celebrate with your Sweetheart on Valentine's Day this year? Grab your boots, and two-step your way to Gruene for celebrations to suit any couple!

Start the celebration early with Gruene Hall's Sweetheart's Gospel Brunch on Sunday, February 8th. In the tradition of a New Orleans-style gospel brunch, we serve up awe-inspiring gospel music featuring The Gospel Silvertones and Bret Graham, coupled with a mouth-watering buffet, catered by Gristmill River Restaurant & Bar. Brunch hours are 10:30am-12:00pm. Want to make it extra special? Book a night at the Gruene Mansion Inn for you and your sweetie on Saturday! Tickets available at

Looking for a little dancing to spice up your romantic celebrations? You're in luck - Chubby Checker & The Wildcats - yes, the same Chubby Checker who invented 'The Twist,' will be at Gruene Hall on Thursday, February 12th! So, come on, baby - let's do The Twist! Tickets available at

During Valentine's Day weekend, Gruene Hall will host William Clark Green (Friday, February 13th) and Shinyribs (Saturday, February 14th). Before the show, be sure to stop by one of the fabulous dining options in Gruene for a romantic meal! Here are a few suggestions:

Gristmill River Restaurant & Bar (Special Available February 13th - February 15th)
A tender and juicy 8 ounce New York Strip accompanied by the Gristmill’s award winning bacon-wrapped stuffed Texas gulf jumbo shrimp. Served with loaded mashed potatoes and served with an iceberg wedge salad ($24.99). Don’t forget dessert…Indulge yourself with a most decadent favorite…Ultimate Turtle Cheesecake, creamy cheesecake with rich fudge, topped with caramel, pecans, chocolate chips and whipped cream. Served with two spoons, just the right ending to a truly romantic meal. Available Friday through Sunday.

Mozie’s (Special Available February 13th - February 15th)
Steak! Specials include a succulent 6 ounce filet and a 16 ounce porterhouse t-bone. Both flat top grilled, covered in Hoffbrau lemon butter and served with a bleu cheese wedge salad and a choice of side ($29.95). To “sweeten” your dining experience, try specialty martinis, including Strawberry Cheesecake, Godiva Chocolate or Key Lime Pie! Available Friday through Sunday.

Cantina del Rio (Special Available February 13th - February 15th)
Featuring a Sizzlin’ Valentine’s Special all weekend with happy hour prices! Try our tender chicken or beef fajitas marinated in our special fresh squeezed lime marinade, served with beans, rice, real guacamole, fresh pico and your choice of fresh flour or homemade corn tortillas. $11.99 for one or $20.99 for you and your sweetie. Enjoy a frozen margarita or sangria or an ice cold beer on our relaxing deck tucked into the trees of Gruene Historic District. Available Friday thru Sunday.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Americana Jam Saves a Life!!

Not only were we able to raise $67,122.40 for the Braunfels Foundation Trust at this year's 18th Annual Americana Music Jam at Gruene Hall, we were also able to assist in saving a life! Kathy Flynn, with Love Hope Strength, set up a tent at the event sponsored by Gruene Hall and 92.1 KNBT to register potential bone marrow survivors, and it was there that she was able to MATCH a donor to a patient!! Only 1 in 541 people in the United States are ever matched, so we are overwhelmed that we were able to make this happen at the Jam. 

A little more about the wonderful organization who made the match...

Basically, Love Hope Strength does bone marrow donor drives at rock concerts. It is a great, painless way to get involved in the war on cancer.

Registering is simply filling out a form and doing a painless cheek swab. It takes about two minutes. But if someone is found to be a match for a patient, they go through more intensive testing to find out if they are healthy enough to actually donate. Donation is MUCH easier than people think... in most cases (about 85% of the time) it involves a few days of injections, a bit of soreness as the bone marrow makes more cells than it needs and then spills the extra cells into the blood stream. Donation day is a few hours and a couple of movies. And the incredible opportunity to extend a life when nobody else can!
Most of the patients who need stem cell / bone marrow transplants never find a match, because less than half of them have a match on the registry. About 40(ish)%.  We hope you will register to be a donor at the next Americana Music Jam in May. Who knows how many more lives could be saved!