Goodbye to Willie’s Place Theater and Carl’s Corner, TX Truck Stop (Thanks for the great music and memories)

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Rumors have been circulating for months and news reports now confirm that Willie’s Place Theater is closing and the Carl’s Corner truck stop is changing hands.  The popular theater and Willie Nelson themed truck stop has been in operation for three years (in its current reincarnation) and was a favorite for truckers and tourists and Willie Nelson fans. 

— Linda

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Willie Nelson, Carl’s Corner, TX (photo by Janis Tillerson)

But the real joy about the place was Willie’s Place theater, and getting to see Willie Nelson and Family perform there. 

 It was the greatest place;  it had great sound, it was cozy.  There wasn’t a bad seat in the house.  You could stand at the bar and Willie could still make eye contact with you, although I never personally stood that far from the stage.   It was a low stage, and Willie generously spent time after every show talking with fans, signing autographs, hugging people, posing for photos.

Here’s Janis from Texas, hard at work hanging pictures at Carl’s Corner, Texas.  Janis personally framed thousands of pictures of Willie Nelson and Family and Friends and Fans, and hung them on the walls at Willie’s Place Theater. Thanks to Rick from OK for taking this photo.  I think he was supposed to be holding the ladder, but I’m glad he got this picture!  She didn’t fall, don’t worry.

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 The place was a destination; when Willie did a show there we would all get there as early as we could so we could hang out with friends, eat at the Blue Skies Cafe, wander around and enjoy all the pictures on the wall, and display cases full of memorabilia.  

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Janis Tillerson spent the past three years the place has been in existence gathering pictures from fans, framing them, and hanging them on the wall.  She filled display cases with collections like the Tee-Shirt from the First Farm aid, albums, a miniature Trigger guitar.    

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Willie Nelson fans at Carl’s Corner, Texas, gather before the show.

Now all the photos of Willie pictured with fans and family and movie stars are for sale, with price stickers attached.  (Janis said the picture of Willie and I was marked at $10.00.)   Everything in the gift shop is for sale, too.

Willie’s Place, on Sirius/XM Radio, broadcast from it’s studio in the Willie Nelson theater, and if they were on the air you could watch Dallas do his show.  


Dallas Wayne and Willie Nelson
Sirius/XM Studio, Carl’s Corner, Texas

A few times, fans got to watch Willie being interviewed by Dallas Wayne or Bill Mack.   I don’t know where the Willie’s Place studio will land.  Bill Mack always broadcasts from his satellite ranch outside Fort Worth, and lately Dallas Wayne  has been working out of his home studio outside Austin. 

There were three grand openings of Willie’s Place Theater at Carl’s Corner, that I know of.  There might have been more.  One year, there was a stage set up in the parking lot, and Lukas Nelson and 40 Points (his band before Promise of the Real) performed for the fans outside.  Willie surprised everyone by joining Lukas and the band for a few songs, before going inside to do his set with his Family band.   There was a pre fourth of July concert at Carl’s that year, too.    One of the grand openings featured a First Annual Barbeque Cook-off, but it was never repeated, but I never heard why.

The internet is full of stories on blogs about people who visited Willie’s Place at Carl’s Corner, Texas and  what an amazing place it was:  the chicken fried steaks, all the pictures and souvenires of Willie Nelson.   There are pictures of the frogs, and the signs, and someone posing with one of the owners Carl Cornelius.  It was a fun place.   So while I feel sad, I’m grateful I got to see Willie Nelson & Family there as many times as I did, and hang out with good friends.  On way from Dallas Airport, stop by the bakery in West for some rolls, and then if you had time make the drive to Abbott, Texas, to take more pictures of Willie Nelson’s home town.    I will miss all that, but I have to smile when I think of all the good times we had there, the great music we heard, and how much fun the three grand openings were.

 New owners will take control on February 1st, next week.   

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Thanks to Jan, from Texas (RailRoadLady) for sharing this pic.

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The news articles report that Willie Nelson biodiesel plant, located beside the truck stock, is not effected by the foreclosure actions, and will remain in his control, with other partners. 

 So I’ve been mourning the loss of the theater, but now I just have to smile about the good times we had there and all the great music we heard.   It was one of those moments in time, great memories for those of us lucky to have been there.  So, goodbye; we’re gonna miss you.

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Monique from The Hague, visited Texas with husband Mark, and took  this pic.

I ran fast, well, as fast as I can run which isn’t too fast, when I saw Willie’s Bus pull into Carl’s Corner one year.  I wanted this picture of the bus pulling into the bus  bay.  The bay was turned into an air-conditioned pool hall for a short time, but I think Carl’s management decision got overrulled the next time the  bus came back to the truck stop and needed a private place to park.    It wasn’t a pool hall for long.

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Here’s Carl’s Corner in 1984

Wednesday, March 4th, 2009

Property, business opportunies offered at Carl’s Corners.

  • home sites
  • 5-acre tracks for mobile homes (complete financing available)
  • commercial, industrial sites
  • farm land
  • Former Wacoan, famous artist Bob Wade is entertaining idea of building a minature golf course
  • Developers, investors of Carl’s Corners will entertain motel and amusement facility developers offers

American Country
April 1984

Carl’s Corner Set to Open on 960 acre site;  developers providing complete financing

Development proceeds at a rapid pace at the Carl’s Corners project just north of Hillsboro.

Carl’s Corners promises to be a gigantic show place consisting of a mammoth truck stop with a huge multipurpose center with many auxiliary businesses.

Located along I-35E FM2959, Carl’s Corner is being developed by Carl Cornelius of Hillsboro and several other Dallas investors — one of whom is Monk White.

American Country will be bringing details about Carl’s Corners and its personnel in the months to come.  No date for initial opening of the first phase of this development has been announced.

The Restaurant, dining building at Carl’s Corner are complete, according to Carl Cornelius, (pictured in the top photo, with Darrril Wright and LeVan Gordon).  Cornelius went on to say that carpenter and carpenter helpers are needed for other projects.  And, Cornelius siad applications are now being taken for the operation of restaurant, multipurpose center, and truck stop.

Carl’s Corners truck stop (in bottom photo), located at one of the most visible sites in Texas, promises to become a number one stop along I-35E — referred to Mainstreet, Texas.  This truck stop will reputedly rival the internationally famous truck stop in Cheyenne, Wyoming because of the many facilities offered.

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75 Responses to “Goodbye to Willie’s Place Theater and Carl’s Corner, TX Truck Stop (Thanks for the great music and memories)”

  1. Ricky says:

    Wow this is Sad , why come Willie did just not buy the Place ??? I know someone put a Lot Cash in That wonderfull Place Fixing it up. Did the Bio Diesel Just not work? Someone put a Lot of money in it Just to Lose it. Dam bank should have let Willie Have it . I wont ever stop again after hearing all This Shit . We love you Willie!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  2. jesse says:

    thanks for rhe good times

  3. Bobby says:

    I always will think about willies place when i drive by in my walmart truck it was a great place to be

  4. Mike says:

    So many of the good things are gone, one more bites the dust.

  5. Diane says:

    Wow!!!Where have I been. Took a roadtrip a couple of years ago. Carl’s Corner was the first stop of the trip. What an amazing place. I’ve loved Willie Nelson and appreciated his music and talent for years. Glad I had a chance to experience Willie’s Place.

  6. Virginia says:

    Send me information

  7. Bobby says:

    Since Willie Place is not there, i just past right by it don’t even Look the same as it did when Willie own it I have never stop

  8. Deborah' says:

    Ah man… Finally got a chance to go-my parents & I are on our way! And now it’s not there? If we go there anyway, what will we see? What is there in it’s place? What’s left? Restaurant? Memorabilia? Anything? Arg!
    Carl’s Corner is not really on our way to anywhere, but we’ve wanted to go for so long… Can anyone help us out with answers about what’s left there?

  9. bryan says:

    took my 5 yr old there in 09 hate to see it gone

  10. LindaLee says:

    It was a great place to visit! I miss it, too.

  11. Sandy Higham says:

    Short story: while in Ind if Willie was in the area & needed his bus services, he always went to a small town, Holton. If you blinked you had been thru there. The bus was being serviced, which my friends son was working there, & had taken him some bean soup & corn bread for lunch. who ever was there waiting on the bus, looked at the soup, with puppy dog eyes. Carroll asked if they wanted some? They did, she drove home & returned with the soup & corn bread. A couple weeks later she received a phone call, would she make some bean soup & corn bread for Willie, they were in the area to perform. She agreed & they came & got it. Couple weeks later another phone call, “dont plan on anything for the week-end as Willie was sending a driver for them, hotel & back stage passes for them.

  12. LindaLee says:

    thanks sandy for sharing that story!

  13. Ronda Klotz says:

    I used drive 80 miles out of route to go to Willies, then it was well worth the extra miles. I have been back since Petro took over, but it will never be the same, or have the same special feel “Willies” did. WHAT A LOSS TO THE TRUCKING/COUNTRY FOLKS LIKE MYSELF…. Farm brat by birth trucker by choice… Ronda by birth “R & R” on the “two way”

  14. Rick Vincent says:

    I just found out !

    Thankfully, I had the opportunity to visit Willie’s Place twice. I am sad to
    see it go (probably gone by now) …. Please Willie, bring it back if you can !!!

    I had the grand time of life there both times !!!

  15. M.Henderson says:

    Always wanted to see this. I`ll have to take it off my bucket list.
    I`m not kidding, I have a list, and Willies place was ar the top.

  16. LindaLee says:

    What else is on that list.

  17. Bill Kendrick says:

    Darn hate to see them let it go, especially since I just discovered it, via a TV special. Would have loved to seen and talked to Willie. I have done some he just might like to see, besides other things in the herb world that I know would interest him.
    See what I want to show to Willie, go to You Tube, White Gasoline Vapor, by IAMBILLYTHEKID. Read the explanation and comments, watch the video I tell how I did it. Lab tests could prove what I think I have done, if I am right we could be using water in the fuel tank on all vehicles in the future. No fossil fuel needed. I wish Willie would read this, and watch the video on You Tube. Oh well maybe in my next life.

  18. LindaLee says:

    Everyone who ever got to see Willie Nelson & Family there misses it! Coziest venue.

  19. Jim Says says:

    Just happened on to Willie’s a few years back and ate there when traveling to and from Dallas and Austin. The first time there we walked all through the place and saw the theater. Thought it would be so cool to go and see a show there. It’s a shame, we live 40 miles from it and never made it.

  20. Brenda McAfee says:

    Went to the opening of willie’s place had a wonderful day. talked with willie personally and got plenty of photo’s and a guitar signed . met a lot of people from club luck and loved putting a face to the fans i had been chatting with through club luck. the place was beautiful,what a great time.

  21. Ferlin McAlister says:

    Gonna miss that chicken fryed stake .Thanks for the good times Willie n Carl. At Willie’s place.

  22. Ryan Dues says:

    I will definitely miss the Carl’s corner truck stop when Willie Nelson owned it!!

  23. TIMMY J WELLS says:

    WILLIE IS THE BEST. SORRY TO SEE CARL’S GOING OUT. BEEN GOING THERE FOR 20 YEARS.

  24. Chuk Hughes says:

    Hey Wille !
    I have been there many times . It was a blast from the past for me. I have enjoyed that place.Sorry to see it go ! Happy Trails !!!

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