Day Trips

Roy T's Old Salado Bakery is the home of legends, delicious pastries, and more

Food for the road
Food for the road

Roy T's Old Salado Bakery began with two legends and has expanded from there. One legend was made up just for fun; the other is a fine Southern tradition of pastries that goes back more than half a century.

We'll start with the first legend. It's more of a tall tale. Back in two-double-aught-six, John Davis; his partner and father-in-law, Roy Tyson; and their wives decided to escape Dallas for the village of Salado to open a bakery.

The family installed the ovens in a rock farmhouse at the entrance ramp to I-35. It is also half a block off one of the town's main thoroughfares. The only problem, the building inspector said, was the old water well in front of the building. It had to be permanently plugged so no one could fall in before Davis and Tyson could open their business. The result was a not particularly attractive concrete slab near the front door.

Davis took the lemons of the eyesore and made lemonade by covering it with a fake wishing well and a legend. "The wishing well needed a story," Davis says with a laugh.

The tale goes something like this: A young Roy T., who grew up in the Salado area, was out on the prairie one day when he stopped at the well for a drink. Just as the building inspector said someone would, Roy T. fell into the well. A long time passed before a buffalo looked over the side of the deep hole just in time to have a horn caught by Roy T.'s lasso. The young cowboy was pulled to safety by a bison-powered elevator. Roy T. was so appreciative that he placed a big, iron bison on the cafe's front lawn as the bakery's mascot.

That story was just for fun, but nobody was sure what to say when the granddaughter of Salado's other Roy T. came into the coffee shop with a bone to pick with the owners. Her grandfather Roy Taylor Sheppard was a popular grocer in town during the Forties and Fifties. "It was very much a Little House on the Prairie kind of store," Davis says. Roy T.'s grocery is best remembered for showing movies on the store's outdoor wall.

Davis explained the origin of the bakery's name but was impressed by the woman's story. On the wall next to the front door he placed a sign telling the history of Salado's first famous Roy T.

The bakery's second legend comes from its partnership with the Southern Maid Donut Flour Co. Founded in Shreveport, La., in 1937, Southern Maid Donut shops spread across the South because of the consistent quality and their support from the Louisiana Hayride radio show. Minnie Pearl and Johnny Cash sang commercials for the "piping hot" doughnuts. The only commercial Elvis Presley ever recorded was the Southern Maid jingle.

As a kid growing up in Dallas, Davis had a Southern Maid shop in his neighborhood. "I've always measured other doughnuts against the ones from that store," he says. "I've done a lot of different kinds of jobs, but I never thought I'd be the doughnut guy."

Since moving to Salado, Davis, his wife, and his young daughter have settled into small-town living. At first the bakery meant long days for Davis, waking early to cook the breakfast pastries and staying late to prepare for the next day. He says things are developing into a routine, even though the menu keeps expanding.

Along with glazed doughnuts, sausage wraps, pies, and espresso drinks, the bakery offers gourmet sandwiches made on homemade bread. Or the European-style artisan breads come by the round loaf in white, whole-wheat, or multigrain. The bakery recently added pizza to the growing menu. Davis and his family are working hard to build another legend in Salado.

Roy T's Old Salado Bakery is on the northbound side of I-35 at exit 284. The bakery is open Tuesday through Sunday from 7am to 5pm and on Monday from 7am to noon. Give them a call at 254/947-7181, and they'll have a custom-made cake, lunch, or pizza waiting for you.

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Roy T's Old Salado Bakery, Southern Maid Donut Shops, Southern Maid Donut Flour Company, Roy Taylor Sheppard

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