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2014-07-31

Preserving a Bandera tradition at the unique Beverage Barn & RV Park

By Carolyn B. Edwards BCC Staff Writer

There are some things Debra and Scott Slate miss about Colorado - the beauty of the scenery, the awesome camping opportunities. But they don't miss the cold, and they don't miss the big city life and high stress jobs.
"We were ready to move south to some place warmer and looking for small town friendly," said Debra. They were are a point in their lives when they could take the time to think carefully about what they wanted to do next, "and I was content to find a 'meaningless' job with no stress," added Scott.
The personable young couple are convinced they found the perfect setting for the next act of their lives. Owning and operating the Beverage Barn, 1407 Highway 16 North, Bandera's original drive-through convenience store, with it's adjoining RV park, has satisfied their quest for less stress.
However, managing a convenience store and RV park, supervising five employees and moving ahead with plans for expansion, while getting involved in the community hardly qualifies as 'meaningless.'
Taking over in December 2013, the Slates have been busy cleaning, renovating and making plans to expand onto an adjoining acre and a half of undeveloped land. The RV park currently has 35 hook-up spaces on a little over five acres on the shaded banks of the Medina River. The Slates have already poured the slab for a new restrooms and showers and marked the spots for 18 additional sites on the adjoining land, which is covered with towering native pecans and other trees. A lower level along the riverbank will also be available for tent camping.
Because the business is located just outside city limits, the Slates have been working closely with Bandera County officials, including County Engineer Ray Rendon, with Bandera Electric Cooperative and TxDOT to make sure everything is done properly.
Many of the RV sites are rented by long-term tenants who call the place home. "We don't tolerate bad behavior," said Debra, "and our tenants understand and appreciate that."
The Beverage Barn carries a wide variety of beers, wines, soft drinks, snacks and smokes. They've just added new wines from Canyon Road to their stock. The pumps out front are once again selling diesel and gasoline, too.
Although the store gets a steady stream of tourists who like to drive through and take pictures to post on YouTube and other social media, "It's the locals that keep our business open 12 months of the year," said Debra. Scott agreed and added, "We're here to take care of the locals. I'm a people person and I love just talking to the folks and welcome their suggestions."
A well-kept secret until now is that the store has an on-premise license, which means folks doing their laundry can enjoy a beer at the picnic table conveniently set up just outside the store's cozy Laundromat, which is open to the public.
At the back of the property, overlooking the serene river, is a 40x60 pavilion complete with picnic tables, a smooth concrete floor, electricity, a fire place and barbecue pits. Conveniently located restrooms have been remodeled with new fixtures and extra large showers. The pavilion is the perfect setting for parties, receptions, and reunions. "We have a biker group that sets up tents on the floor and parks their bikes under the roof," said Scott. Rates and availability vary, so call and book your event soon. The number is 830-796-8153.
Scott is the general manager and takes care of all the day-to-day operations. Debra, who works full-time at another job, takes care of the business finances. Joining the team is 21-year employee Rex, 6-year employee Janice and Jessica, Tasha and Fancy, all just as friendly and helpful a bunch of folks as you could hope to meet in the Cowboy Capital of the World.
You can drive through, walk through, ride your motorcycle through, come in a wagon, on a horse, or on a longhorn. However you get there, be sure to stop in soon to meet those friendly folks at Bandera Beverage Barn.
By the way, the Beverage Barn is looking for a food trailer to take advantage of foot traffic from customers of the Longhorn Saloon Fridays through Sundays. If you are an interested vendor, contact Scott at 830-688-3052.