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