The Crossing on the Colorado River in downtown Bastrop is the newest old part of the historic town. Nine buildings moved to a bluff overlooking the river date from between 1865 and 1910. The cluster forms a small shopping center with the look and feel of an old town, but with modern services.
Judy and Tommy Hoover saved the buildings from either rotting away or being demolished. Most of the structures were once homes within a 30-mile radius of Bastrop. At the center of the settlement, The Yacht Club was the general store in Winchester.
The Yacht Club is the kind of family restaurant that is fun for everybody. It's nice to stare out the big windows at the river or to browse the walls decorated in a water recreation motif with an odd assortment of junk like fishing poles and old posters.
Judy says that the decorations are 30 years' worth of stuff she and her husband collected. "We didn't have to have a garage sale, we just opened a restaurant," she said. The Hoovers have lots of experience in collecting and operating a small-town restaurant. The Hoovers have spent most of the last 20 years in restoration. They also owned the 1832 Tavern a block away on Main Street.
The Yacht Club is an extension of the Tavern, Judy says. The riverside location has more space with a large dining room called the River Room, a rustic bar, and three decks with an outdoor bar made from a boat hull.
The menu is basic American cuisine fixed with common-sense flavor. They claim to have the "best burgers ever." While I can't dispute such a claim, I must admit they were very good, with an old-fashioned flavor. The steak and seafood dishes looked equally appetizing and filling, but save room for the Yacht Club's desserts. Cindy Richmond makes a peach cobbler and chocolate cake that are worth the 30-minute drive.
The restaurant also serves pasta dishes and salads. One of the most original items on the menu is the "Charlotta." Made from the Hoovers' recipe, the dish is a Frito pie topped with a salad. It's the kind of homemade meal one would have with a beer while watching Monday Night Football. Alcoholic drinks are for sale, but diners must buy a $5 annual membership ($12 for county residents).
The name for the restaurant has far-reaching meanings for the Hoovers. Besides having the look of a turn-of-the-century yacht club, the diner was named for the San Diego Yacht Club where a dear friend, Tom Fowler, was a charter member.
Judy says that they also named one of the cabins in the settlement for Fowler. The Cabins on the Colorado are bed-and-breakfast accommodations with a great location. Guests are a block from the historic Main Street and next to the walking trail in Riverside Park.
Each of the cabins has been restored in period pieces collected by the Hoovers. The accommodations come with claw foot tubs, queen-size beds, and coffee pots in the kitchens. "We give everybody a credit of $10 to eat at the Yacht Club instead of breakfast," Judy says.
For breakfast or any time of day, there is a small bakery in the complex. Judy says that the muffins, rolls, pies, and cakes are all wonderful, but it is the bakery's cookies that are really special.
Judy spends much of her days running a women's clothing shop in the Crossing. In Natural Country Clothing, she sells practical linen and cotton. Along with Australian-made hats, she has jewelry made by local artists, and dresses from several Texas designers. "Because I don't have the overhead of a mall, my prices are very reasonable," she says.
Rounding out the businesses in the settlement next to the old iron bridge across the river is the River Store. Owned by semi-retired Judge Frank Evans, the River Store offers canoe and boat livery and shuttle service on the Colorado River. Judge Evans also builds wooden flat-bottom canoes at the shop that are works of art.
Judy and Tommy moved to Bastrop 20 years ago from Terre Haute, Ind., where she worked for the federal prison system. They live in a house that was built in 1860 as a three-room farm house that has been expanded to two stories and 4,000 square feet. "We drive to Austin for dinner," she said with her friendly laugh, "now it's time for Austinites to drive to Bastrop for dinner."
The Yacht Club is open Monday through Saturday 11am-10pm and Sunday 11am-8pm. All of the other businesses in the Crossing are open Monday through Saturday 10am-6pm and Sunday 12-5pm. For information on renting one of the cabins, call 512/321-7002. To make reservations to rent a canoe or boat, call 512/908-6909 and leave your number.
Coming up this weekend...
Market Days in Bastrop along Main Street offers special shopping bargains and farmers market, Aug. 8. 512/303-7843.
Texas Folklife Festival in San Antonio, presented by the Institute of Texan Cultures, features the music, food, and crafts of 30 Texas ethnic and cultural groups, Aug. 6-9. 210/458-2300.
Hundred Mile Yard Sale lines the highways southwest of San Antonio in Big Foot, Castroville (in Houston Square), Cotulla, Dilley, Hondo, La Coste, Lytle, Macdona, Moore, Natalia, Pearsall, and Sabinal. Look for related special events along the way, Aug. 8. 830/709-3726.
Texas National Soaring Competition attracts glider pilots and spectators to the Uvalde Flight Center, Aug. 4-13. 830/278-4115.
Meteor Shower Watch at Enchanted Rock State Natural Area outside of Fredericksburg invites you to stay up late and see the annual meteor shower, Aug. 9, midnight-4am. Make your camping reservations now. 915/247-3903.
Texas Treasures Online is a new Web site from the Texas State Library and Archives Commission making research and images from the library's collection available to the public. Go to http://www.tsl.state.tx.us/lobby/treasures