By Johnny Griffith
There’s a well known saying about not being able to teach old dogs new tricks, but it certainly didn’t mention anything about old buildings or new businesses, and there aren’t too many buildings around East Texas older than the one on the corner of Pacific and Main in Downtown Gladewater.
Originally a Texaco Station in the 1930’s, the property was a working service station for more than several decades before housing a few different ventures over the next several years. Recently, the address has found some of it’s former glory with the Central Station Brick & Brew, a restaurant and music venue that honors much of the building’s storied past while giving it a new lease on life. Local businessmen Tim Barnett and Dale Rhodes bought the property just over a year ago and spent most of their time over the next several months overseeing the renovation of the property to house the restaurant.
Now one could say the last thing East Texas needs is another restaurant as it seems as if there is a new one popping up every couple of weeks, but the residents of Gladewater might argue that this is just what the Downtown area needed as an anchor to help kick-start a revitalization of the old business district. Not just another pizza and beer place, some of the unique aspects of Central Station include a true brick oven for fresh, handmade pizzas, locally sourced meats for their burgers like the ½ pound “Station Burger,” and more than 32 Texas craft beers at the custom made bar.
In addition to the fantastic menu, when one walks into the business, you are immediately transported back to the 1930’s with renovations that bring out much of the original history of the building and keep the service station feel. Though the exterior received a much-needed modern face lift and the inside was completely re-wired, brought up to current code, and renovated with customers in mind, many of the original features can still be seen throughout the restaurant.
Some of the nostalgia includes the original restrooms, which were preserved and restored with vintage tiles; roll-up garage doors were added to the area that now serves as a music room for local and national artists alike; an original parts bin found off-site sitting in a barn and brought back to the location for display; and various car parts, road signs, and other curios adorn the location.
Not simply dwelling on the past, Central Station has some new improvements on the property that allow visitors to enjoy the entire Downtown experience. In addition to the renovations inside, there was an upper deck added over the music room, which allows a panoramic view of the historic Downtown area as well as an outdoor seating patio complete with “patio games” and a convenient view of the stage when the bay doors are rolled up.
The music room is an intimate setting that puts the musicians and audience in close proximity, but attention to detail in the acoustics and sound system allow the diners to enjoy eating while not being blown away. There is music on most Friday and Saturday nights, with many local performers taking the stage including local regulars like the Darrin Morris Band and Sean Berry as well as the occasional Nashville connection from performers like Neal McCoy or John Berry.
Central Station isn’t simply a place to grab a bite and a brew; it’s a destination for a lazy weekend afternoon, winding down after work on a weekday, or catching music and hanging out with your friends for a few hours on Friday or Saturday nights. Capitalizing on the already laid-back atmosphere of the Downtown area, Central Station encourages wasting away an afternoon on the upper deck, drinking a cold beer, iced tea, or soda, listening to music, and spending time watching the cars and the occasional train roll by.
Within walking distance of the restaurant there are several antique shops, the Gladewater Museum, the Gladewater Opry, and several other shops to occupy your time as you stroll around Downtown, ending back at Central Station about the time the evening entertainment is warming up.
Be sure to visit the bar before taking your seat and peruse the craft beer menu. Some of the taps are even run out of an old car rear end in keeping with the theme. You’ll find breweries from all over the state represented as well as several brews from right here in East Texas.
You’ll also want to be sure to give the menu some special attention, and take in all of the specialty items like “The Whole Hog,” a 12 inch wood fired pizza with house pulled pork, ham, bacon, mozzarella, and topped with a house bbq sauce made with produce from local farmers. If you’re more of a burger person, then by all means go for the “Station Burger,” a ½ lb burger made with locally sourced, grass fed meat from Iron Farms, seasoned in-house, and served on a southern bun with all the proper accessories and your choice of mayo, mustard, or sriracha sauce and topped with a fried egg, bacon, or cheese.
Finally, make sure you save room for dessert with selections like the “Chocolate Stout Cake,” made in-house with #12 Wood Creek Brewery Vanilla Porter, drizzled with a house-made porter chocolate sauce and topped with salted pecans and powdered sugar.
With a great menu, quality staff, and superb location, Central Station is sure to become your next destination point on the weekends. Take the short drive over to Gladewater and step back in time to when things ran a little slower, sit on the patio, and watch the world go by, one song at a time.
The Central Station Brick & Brew is open Thursday 3-10pm, Friday and Saturday 11am-11pm, and Sunday 9am-4pm. It is located at 103 N. Main St., Gladewater.