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Bret Holbert and his wife, Sherrie, are back in the food business as proprietors of “107″ — an open air beer and wine garden at 107 Grand Ave., just off the southwest corner of the Plaza in historic downtown Paris.
The Holberts, who for 12 years owned and operated 24th Street Cafe, took a historic building whose roof had collapsed and was slated for demolition — and turned it into something unique for Paris.
They left it without a roof — on purpose — and made it into something like Paris had never seen before, something akin to the family-atmosphere, open air beer gardens of Central and Southwest Texas.
“What a great thing to do, to salvage some of Paris’ early history and turn it into something real cool and progressive,” said Ray Trotter, who owns a gallery on the Plaza and was one of the establishment’s first customers at last week’s opening.
“I used to get my hair cut here for free in this building. It was a beauty college,” said Trotter, who was born and raised in Paris and recently returned to the city after being gone for more than 40 years. “They took something beautiful and made it more beautiful.”
Joining Trotter at a table at the grand opening were Koa Hawn and Julia Trigg Crawford.
“It’s beautiful. Somebody just told me today it was Opening Day, and I didn’t know what to expect. I’m blown away. It’s great,” said Hawn, a native of Hawaii who moved to Paris a year ago.
“I’ve been waiting for it to open for months, so I’m tickled to see the doors open,” said Crawford, who like Trotter was born and raised in Paris.
“This is my first glass of wine here. it’s great. I love the concept. When I first saw it months ago, it was raining, and I looked in and saw how this could work even in inclement weather, so it will be fun — rain or shine,” Crawford said.
Hours are from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Wednesday and Thursday and 4 p.m. to 11 p.m., “or later, as needed,” on Friday and Saturday.
“Plus, we just decided to open for lunch on Saturday,” Bret said Friday. It’s a no-smoking establishment, in keeping with the new smoking ban that just went into effect city-wide for public places.
The official opening on April 11 came two days after an informal run-through two days earlier — a “soft opening” from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on a Wednesday night “so we can get our system down.”
It was anything but soft, Bret said.
“We had a huge turnout. We were slammed. We turned out a ridiculous amount of food,” he added. “But that’s OK. That’s why you have nights like that. You work out your kinks. You find out what works good and what doesn’t, and you start to formulate a system. People are coming in for the food in addition to the wide selection of beers and wines that we have.”
Capacity is 99 people. There’s seating for 80.
In a question-and-answer interview with eParisExtra, the Holberts talked about how “107″ came about.
Question: “What gave you the idea for this?”
Bret: “I’ve been looking for something to do after I retire from the fire department in November after 30 years, so Sherrie and I began to brainstorm. We knew we wanted to do something in food, but something different from 24th Street. Last summer, we took a swing down through south and central Texas — San Antonio, Comfort, Fredericksburg, places like that — and there are these little beer gardens on every corner in that part of the state. People come in, and it’s a real family atmosphere. We stopped in San Antonio, and there was this place on probably a half acre of land, a building where the bar was. It had a playground where kids could play, and families came in the afternoon and sat down under the big oak trees and relaxed and had something to eat and had something to drink if they desired. As we traveled, we kept seeing these and thought, you know, this would be a good idea. So we began to consider that.”
Q: “How did you decide on this building, which just a couple of years ago the city was putting barricades in front of to mark as unsafe?”
Bret: “We knew we wanted to do something downtown, but there wasn’t really an open spot like you would think of a garden, and so we weren’t sure if we would be able to. Well, Sherrie saw this building one day, and she said, you know, we could probably get that building for a good price, and we could gut it and put a beer garden in there. And so we began to ask around as to owned it, found out and approached that person. He said, sure, I’ll sell it. and so he did. The rest is as you see it now. It came from a building whose roof had collapsed onto the second floor — that was rotting away, and there were discussions about demolishing it — to this. Everybody seems to be excited about it. because it’s so different than anything else. That’s the word that we keep hearing — different. And we think that’s a good thing.”
Q: “So you came up with the open air idea rather than putting a new roof on it?”
Bret: “Right. We knew we wanted open air, something that was at least similar to the open air beer gardens that we had seen down in San Antonio and Austin and Fredericksburg and places like that. We knew that we didn’t want to move inside and just have a place where you can have a beer and a burger. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. We had a great living doing that for 12 years, and that’s great, but we wanted to do basically something that Paris had never seen — not in my lifetime anyway. So we came up with this concept. We understand there are going to be days where the weather is too bad to open, and we’re OK with that.”
Q: “It’s open air, but at the same time, you have umbrellas over some tables, and other parts are covered by a partial roof. So you can still stay open for business, even when it’s raining?”
Sherrie: “We preserved what the building was. We wanted everybody to see how cool a building it was. We wanted it to feel you were in a different city, like Austin or San Antonio or Fort Worth or Fredericksburg, sitting in open air. Basically, when it rains, we’ll have a day off. If it’s just a light rain, a light summer rain, it’s not a problem at all, you’ll stay completely dry. we have areas free to sit under that are dry, and three of our tables have umbrellas. The kitchen and the serving area is completely enclosed, as are the bathrooms.”
Q: “So, are you looking forward to this?”
Sherrie: “I am. I’m anxious and excited and a little nervous. We’re out of our realm here, but we’ll do it. Our soft opening went really well. It was just friends and family, people who would tell us the truth about what we needed to change. We fixed a few things. We are starting out with five employees. We are a little over-hired for the first couple of weeks until we can see. I don’t want to be short-handed. We aren’t opening until 4 in the afternoon. I’ll probably be coming in at 5, but I have hired a manager, Mindy Wilson, who will be here at 4. She’s got a lot of experience, so we’re well covered. We have two cooks who cooked for us for years and years at 24th Street — Bret’s old team back together and we’re comfortable with them.”
Q: “What are you hearing from your customers?”
Sherrie: “They love the feel. They haven’t experienced anything like this in Paris, and that was our goal. They also like that we’re preparing different products that they’ve not seen. We’ll try to do something different than everyone else is doing. It’s a casual, laid-back place. We don’t want it be a bar. The beer companies and wine companies said they would give us neon signs and all that, but we’re not going to do any of that. We want it to be more of a place where you can spend time with friends and relax. We want to have good food, but not turn into a bar-type thing.”
Bret: “The only thing alcoholic we sell is wine and beer. We don’t sell any spirits at all. I talked to some of the people who owned beer gardens that I talked about earlier. Some of them had been in the business of a full-on bar business before and chose to get out of it because they just preferred a different atmosphere. A guy in San Antonio said he had a bar for quite a few years on Sixth Street in Austin, and he said there were things going on there all of the time. I don’t want to give bars a bad name, but it’s just a different crowd and we just decided we weren’t going to sell spirits. We have a selection of beers all the way from light beers to dark beers, and then we have wine from inexpensive wines all the way up to better higher-dollar wines.”
Q: “What are the ‘different’ food offerings you are offering?”
Bret: “We have a selection of three tacos — pulled pork, brisket tacos, and fish tacos. We have quesadillas, garlic fries, cheese tray with fries, a selection of cheeses, and a selection of fresh fruits.
We have various sauces that we’ll drizzle on the slate that if they care to they can drag their cheese through or their sausage or something like that.
“We have pulled pork sliders – traditional southern pulled pork sandwiches with pulled pork barbecue sauce and cole slaw. We have brisket sliders with sauteed onions and horse radish, and we have our flatbreads, which were really popular on our soft opening. We have beef fajita, which is similar to the ingredients for our regular fajita — beef fajita meat with grilled onions and bell peppers and avocadoes. And we have what has really been popular — grilled chopped sirloin, not hamburger meat, but thinly sliced sirloin with roasted red peppers, cucumbers, artichoke hearts and a greek yogurt-based sauce. And then there’s our fish and chips, which have turned out to be the “dark horse.” They were crazy popular at our soft opening. We serve three nice filets of fish with a nice generous helping of french fries. We make our own jalapena tartar sauce in house.
“Our nachos also are real popular. We have regular nachos with cheese and peppers, and then we have pulled pork and brisket and chicken. Our wings — we have three different wing sauces.
“We have a traditional, what you would call a buffalo sauce; a sweet chili pepper sauce; and a pepper sauce called Chef Perry sauce, a gift from chef Michael Perry at Bois d’Arc.
“And then one of our things we’re really excited about — a black and bluebell float. It’s Blue Bell vanilla ice cream, and then over that we pour Shiner Bohemian black beer. If you’ve never had it, it sounds kind of strange, but if you ever taste it, you’ll love it and you’ll have it again. It’s really, really good.
“On our kids’ menu, we have chicken strips, grilled cheese sandwiches, things like that.”
By Charles Richards, eParisExtra
The ongoing discussion and debate of how to fully utilize and improve Lake Crook has led supporters of a Lake Crook Park to organize.
The first meeting of “Friends of Lake Crook Park” will be held Tuesday, April 22, at 5:30 p.m. in the Paris Public Library, according to Jackie Alsobrook and Susan Swint.
Mrs. Swint and her husband, Dr. Richard Swint, gave the city a $100,000 donation in January of this year. With his $100,000 check, Swint attached a letter that said the donation came with a requirement that the city of Paris undertake the restoration of “Lake Crook Park” without hiring any consultants, planners or architects. The Swints opposed the city council’s plan to turn the area around the lake into a retirement or resort community.
“Friends of Lake Crook Park” will work to retain ownership of the lake and surrounding land by the citizens of Paris, and to restore and improve the park to reflect its former destination status.
A first priority will be to create a children’s park “including ducks and paddle boats, and walking trails in a serene natural setting in an economical manner designed to retain Paris’ ownership of this park.”
Everyone interested in the future of the park is invited to attend the meeting, including residents of the area who live outside the city limits. Anyone unable to attend the meeting may support the park efforts by calling Jackie Alsobrook at 903.785.3770 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or on Facebook at
About a dozen Webelos Scouts — typically fifth-graders — gathered after dark at Camp Kiwanis on the banks of Pat Mayse Lake last weekend to observe the boys’ passage from Cub Scouts to Boy Scouts.
The scouts came from six troops from the Paris-based NeTseO Trails Council — made up of scouting organizations throughout Northeast Texas and Southeast Oklahoma.
The “Bridging Ceremony” symbolizes a shift from mostly adult leadership in Cub Scouts to the imparting of leadership by the boys themselves in Boy Scouts.
Friday night’s half-hour ceremony was in darkness, lit only by a full moon peeking through the clouds and by torches carried by Scouts dressed as tribal Indian leaders.
Dozens of people — family and friends — sat in the sand on lawn chairs and applauded the young scouts making the transition.
At the end of the ceremony, the Cub Scout neckerchief was taken from each boy and replaced by the Boy Scout neckerchief.
Mike Taylor of Paris, scoutmaster of Troop 2, whose members conducted the ceremony, opened the ceremony with prayer and with remarks to explain what was to happen.
“We seek to instill virtuous characteristics in each of these young men by teaching them to live the Scout Oath and the Scout Law in their everyday lives,” he said.
Adult Scout leaders “walk through this experience with them, teaching them about hiking and camping and canoeing and all the things that go with it — mountain climbing, rock climbing, and so many other things I can’t even start to name them all,” he said.
“It’s a tremendous experience, and this is a new adventure they’re going into tonight.”
A principal purpose of Scouting is to guide young men “to become fit, not just physically but mentally, emotionally, socially and most of all spiritually,” Taylor said, “and to become “effective, working citizens” in their community, their nation, and their world.
Hopefully, one day some of the pre-teens transitioning from Cub Scouts to Boy Scouts will achieve the ultimate Scouting goal of becoming Eagle Scouts, Taylor said.
That’s an accomplishment that marks the individual as a leader, he said.
“It represents an accomplishment that will take them through life and open unbelievable opportunities for them. I cannot tell you how many businessmen I talk to, when they do interviews and see Eagle Scout on the resume, that candidate goes to the very top of the list,” Taylor said.
By Charles Richards, eParisExtra
A Lamar County grand jury last week handed up indictments for 24 individuals to the 6th District Court, including the indictment of Danna Comstock Taylor on the charge of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and Bob Lee Bridges on the charge of driving while intoxicated with a child.
Others were indicted on charges including drug violations, theft and burglary.
Also indicted were:
Geno Ethan Allen – Possession of a Controlled Substance >4 g <200 g
John Quinton Bybee – Assault of a Family Member w/ Prior Conviction
Jackie Ray Chennault – Possession of Marijuana >4 oz <5 lbs
Evan Mitchell Cobb – Burglary of a Habitation, Felon in Possession of a Firearm
R.J. Diggs – Credit Card Abuse
Keithie Don Ellis – Violation of Protective Order w/ 12 months
Johnny Lee Exum – Driving While Intoxicated 3rd or More
Courtney Jill Hampton – Theft <$1500 w/ 2 Prior Convictions
Jalen Juwan Hicks – Possession w/ Intent to Distribute a Controlled Substance >1 g <4 g
Clinton Keith Hillman – Burglary of a Building
Steven Lee Irwin – Driving While Intoxicated 3rd or More
Loren Dean Jenkins – Burglary of Habitation C1 & C2
Carol Jean Lane - Theft >$1500 <$20K, Possession w/ Intent to Distribute a Controlled Substance >4 g <200 g in a Drug Free Zone
Gregory Brian Lawler – Possession of a Controlled Substance <1 g
Byron Anthony McCuin - Possession w/ Intent to Distribute a Controlled Substance >1 g <4 g
Misty Michelle Miller – Possession of a Controlled Substance <1 g
Gary Wayne Moore – Possession of a Controlled Substance <1 g
Glenda Sue Potter – Possession of a Controlled Substance <1 g in a Drug Free Zone
Timothy Decarlos Sims – Theft <$1500 w/ 2 Prior Convictions
Cory Aaron Turk - Possession w/ Intent to Distribute a Controlled Substance >4 g <200 g in a Drug Free Zone
Quarmontre Wallace - Possession w/ Intent to Distribute a Controlled Substance >4 g <200 g
Bryan Michael Widner – Burglary of a Habitation
Planning is about 85 percent complete for construction of a $600,000, 10-unit airplane hangar at Cox Field Airport, an aviation planner for the Texas Department of Transportation said Tuesday.
Matthew Felton told a marketing and development subcommittee of the city’s Airport and Advisory Board that the proposal likely will be taken this summer before the five-man Texas Transportation Commission, which governs the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT).
“Once that vote in Austin comes, our project is actually on the board to be done,” said Shawn Napier, director of city development and engineering, who is also airport director.
Felton said TxDOT’s top priorities in approving a project are safety, maintenance, capacity and environment. The last of those concerns was cleared two weeks ago, he said.
Under a federal grant, the federal government would pay 90 percent of the costs and the City of Paris 10 percent.
“That’s a pretty good buy,” said Jack Ashmore, chairman of the Airport Advisory Board.
“That’s going to be a big step toward improvement of the airport. We have had a waiting list for hangars forever,” Ashmore said.
Napier said he anticipates TxDOT will take the project before the five-man Texas Transportation Commission this summer for approval.
“Once that vote comes, our project is on the board to be done,” Napier said.
“Hopefully, we will be hiring an engineer later this year, complete the design this winter, and hopefully start construction next summer,” Napier said. “How that plays out, we’ll see, but that’s the earliest I see it happening.”
“The grant is for $600,000 (under a grant that will pay $150,000 a year for four years), so our costs would be $60,000,” Napier said. “I think we can actually break it into two different budget years, which will help, considering where we are right now as to financial restraints,” Napier said.
“What you do the first year is pay for engineering. Our part for design and consulting will probably be $10,000 or less. The rest would come the next year when we get ready to put up our part for actually building the hangar.”
As Felton said, the planning process is about 85 percent complete, with the final environmental concerns being cleared two weeks ago.
“At the end of that planning process, we will hire a consulting engineer and start that work, and that starts the ball actually rolling for construction dollars,” Napier said.
Proposed is a 10-unit T-hangar “that is almost like a bird’s nest,” Napier said. The hangar will house five planes on each side, with dual side entry.
“If you go out there now, you can see one (a 10-unit nested T-hangar) out there, at the far west end. We’ll build something similar to that,” Napier said.
Felton came up to attend the TxDOT Aviation Conference in Dallas from Wednesday through Friday “so he came up a day early to meet with us,” Napier said. Napier, airport manager Jerry Richie and PEDC member Stephen Grubbs, who is on the subcommittee, may also attend that conference.
In addition to answering questions about the city’s proposed hangar construction, Felton made observations about the city’s plans to market Cox Field Airport for economic development.
“At Cox Field, you’re lucky to be land and pavement rich,” Felton said of a significant edge the airport holds over neighboring cities it is competing against.
“You’re not lacking for any pavement to bring your aircraft in, and you’re not lacking for any land. But that also presents a challenge for you in maintaining a lot of pavement.”
Felton didn’t have many suggestions about the city’s hopes to market the airport. TxDOT deals more with the funding aspects of airport development, he said.
About the subcommittee’s interest in putting promotional material on a table at this week’s aviation conference, Felton wasn’t too encouraging.
“I don’t want to sound too negative, but most people walk by those and don’t really notice them,” he said.
“The most marketing I see at these conferences are people trying to market their services to airports. It’s not the other way around,” he said.
He did encourage the subcommittee in its efforts to put together a pamphlet with the advantages that Cox Field has over other airports.
“And I would encourage you to be very open in getting everyone in the public knowledgeable about what you have out there at the airport,” Felton said.
“A lot of people are thinking:
‘That’s my tax money going toward that, and I will never use it. I’m never flying out of that airport. It’s just a tool for the rich to be able to fly their airplanes.’
“It behooves you to educate your residents to understand the asset they have there. Reach out to your civic clubs, hold events out there, whether it’s a cancer walk or whatever, just to get people out there and realize they have an airport,” Felton said.
“That your airport does not lack in space and property is a great thing. It can be a pain sometime when you have to maintain it, but you’re not lacking for anybody who would like to come in and needs space, or needs a hangar, and wants to start up a business,” he said.
Ashcroft said that’s exactly what the newly created Airport Advisory Board subcommittee is trying to do.
“We are working at coming up with the pluses and minuses. We are trying to get something we can sell to the world — another Campbell Soup, another Kimberly Clark,” Ashcroft said.
Felton said fly-ins are good for making the public aware of an airport’s value.
“We run out of parking space every fly-in we have, but we ran out of sponsors. People think you can do these things free, but fly-ins cost money,” Ashcroft said.
“Last year was the first year in 15 years we didn’t have a fly-in,” he said.
By Charles Richards, eParisExtra