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Rustic Charm in the Texas Hill Country

I know that there are many places of awe inspiring beauty in the world. Colorado has the most majestic mountains I’ve ever seen.  I am enthralled by the crystal clear waters of the Caribbean Sea.  I have been astounded by the breathtaking beauty of Hawaii.  Thailand fascinated me with it’s exotic culture and charming people. I long to visit and see more of these amazing places.  However unique and fascinating those places are, they are far from my home.

So, when I need a quick getaway from the hustle and bustle of the city, I escape to the Texas Hill Country. My husband and I load up the Tahoe, along with our schnauzer, Bear, and head west until the flat lands gradually turn into rugged, rolling hills covered with live oak and cedar trees.  Nestled between San Antonio and Austin and encompassing 25 counties, the Texas Hill Country boasts of a rustic charm filled with a a rich Texas history, charming architecture, and a natural beauty that soothes my soul and brings me peace and serenity.

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I have to admit, the weather was less than desirable the weekend of our last visit. After our arrival the fog and rain set in, and temperatures dropped into the 30’s.  No worries though.  We loved being there no matter what the weather.

The Texas Hill Country is known for it’s numerous small town venues, restaurants and antique shops all filled with quaint, rustic charm.  One of our favorite hidden gems is the Welfare Cafe. Located off IH-10, between Boerne and Comfort, the Welfare Cafe is an out of the way kind of place that is not too be missed.

The Welfare Cafe began as a General Store way back in early Texas history opening around 1848.  The local post office was later established in 1880 inside the General Store.  Welfare became a railroad shipping point and the small town thrived. By 1892, the town of Welfare consisted of a whopping 275 residents, along with a schoolhouse, saloon, hotel and cotton gin.

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In 1916, the original general store and post office burned down, but was rebuilt that same year.  As time passed, the small towns population dwindled and bad times haunted the small community.  The boll weevils destroyed the cotton crops, and of course there was the  great depression.  The population dropped to a mere 25 residents.  Through it all, the post office and general store continued to be an important meeting place for the community.  A place to collect your mail and exchange stories, borrow books and talk about the weather. Over time as the population of the small town dwindled,  the local school closed and the few students  that still lived in Welfare would take the bus to the school in Comfort.  At the end of the day the bus would drop them off at, where else, but the general store.  In 1966, the trained stopped running past Welfare and it wasn’t long after that the post office closed, followed by the general store in 1978.

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Today, the fascinating history of the small community of Welfare is being revitalized by Gabriele McCormick and her husband David.  In the early nineties, Gabriele and David were looking for a change from corporate life in the city and fell in love with the charm of the hill country,  as so many of us do.  They purchased the general store, post office, and various barns on about 150 acres.  Slowly, they began to restore the old buildings and began the transformation to what we now enjoy as the Welfare Cafe.  The restaurant has thrived, and over the years, Gabby and David have continued to make improvements on the land.

In 2005, the Goat Barn was built using reclaimed wood from the original barn.  There is now an intimate wine bar in the loft. The Welfare Cafe frequently offers special events and is the perfect venue for a rustic, but charming hill country wedding.

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As mentioned previously, the weather was dreary the day we visited and the charming, rustic gardens were showing the effects of the recent freeze.  I have to admit, I enjoy wandering the grounds almost as much as I enjoy the fabulous cuisine which has a touch of German influence.  The day we were there, we enjoyed a delicious Sunday brunch complete with German sausage and strudel, croissants, an assortment of fresh fruits and cheeses, quiche, pancakes and so much more.  Of course, what Sunday brunch is not complete without Mimosas!

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The Welfare Cafe is a delightfully charming venue filled with nostalgia and relics from the past.  This is a delightful spot for a lovely lunch or dinner.  Be sure to check out their website and calendar for special events.  They offer special holiday celebrations and often have live entertainment.

The charms of the Texas Hill Country are endless.  If I had my way, I would spend my days wandering the many small towns and visiting all the lovely shops, restaurants, historical sites, and possibly a winery or two.

I hope that someday you have a chance to visit the Texas Hill Country and explore the many fascinating venues that the area has to offer.

“Texas is a State of Mind.”  –  John Steinbeck

xxoo – Gerri

* I would love to hear a comment from you have visited or plan to visit the Texas Hill Country or the Welfare Cafe and Goat Barn.

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