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Marie Nipp enjoys the quiet hill country setting that surrounds the Sisterdale Roadhouse, a watering hole she and her husband have run since May. The historic bar is a popular gathering place for locals who like to listen to original Texas music. Photo by Phil Houseal


Details:
The Sisterdale Roadhouse is open Tuesday and Wednesday from 4 to 10 p.m., and on Thursday through Sunday from noon until midnight, staying open on Saturday until 1 a.m. For information: 830-324-6767 or www.sisterdaleroadhouse.com.

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Sisterdale Roadhouse:
13 Miles From Anywhere

by Phil Houseal
Jan 16, 2008

Attention, songwriters: Sisterdale wants its own song. That may be all it needs to make it the next Luckenbach.

I had been seeing ads about a bar in that tiny town (population 36) that was hosting live music, so one Thursday afternoon I just drove over to see for myself. The town is a bit hard to find, but I found it, parked and walked into the open door of the Sisterdale Roadhouse.

"We're 13 miles from anywhere!" announced Marie Nipp, who was perched behind the old bar working on the bookkeeping. That's 13 miles from Boerne, 13 miles from Kendalia, 13 miles from Comfort, and 13 miles from Luckenbach. "We are not as popular as Luckenbach, but that is just because we haven't had a song written about us.... yet."

Even without an ode, John and Marie Nipp bought the business about a year ago because they wanted to preserve a piece of Texas history and to promote Texas music. They run an insurance agency in Boerne, but both have had extensive experience running restaurants and clubs. The Roadhouse is something special to them.

"We didn't want to see this place sold and changed," Marie Nipp explained. "We wanted to keep the place pretty much way it's been, and we didn't want anybody coming in turning it into California style or tearing it down and putting something else here so that it wasn't Sisterdale anymore!"

The staid structure is rich in local history. While locals refer to it as the Sisterdale General Store, it never actually had that name, nor has it been a general store for years. It has been a bar, and was the post office at one time.

The Nipps have made a few changes, such as bringing in more neon lighting, adding a pool table and bar games. But their plan is to hang on to the character that makes the Roadhouse a center of the Sisterdale social scene.

"Howdy! Are you from around here?" Nipp shouted to a young man who walked in after me. "This is the first time I've seen you in here." She served him a Dr Pepper and spent several minutes learning his story. Satisfied that she would know him on his next visit, she turned back to me.

"What I want to start turning this into is a place for people to come and enjoy a drink," she said. "We're out here where it's quieter and you're away from the city." Her typical visitors are local ranch hands, hunting guides, motorcyclists and a few tourists. On Wednesday night they host a Texas Hold 'Em tournament, and every Friday and Saturday they bring in live music. They focus on original music, using local bands along with groups from Central Texas.

"Most of it is country music, and when I say country I don't mean cover bands - it's Texas originals."

So why should anyone make the 13-mile trip from anywhere to get to the Sisterdale Roadhouse?

Nipp thought a bit, then laughed. "That is something you'd have to ask the clients instead of me," she said. "We are just good old-fashioned people out here. We're all laid back, we love to have a good time, and everybody gets along. If you've never been here before, you'll come in this door and my customers will all yell 'Hello!'"

"It is a different place. It is just a nice, old-fashioned bar. We love it out here."

Sounds like the start of a song.