TEXAS STAR INN
TEXAS STAR INN. The Texas Star Inn was on the Bandera highway in Leon Valley, Texas, just northwest of San Antonio. The music venue was established in 1946 as a beer joint and motorcyclists' hangout. In the 1990s and into the 2000s the former Texas Star has operated as a popular barbecue restaurant known as Grady's. Its main entry was filled with antiques and autographed photos of country musicians who played at the inn or ate at the restaurant. The two-story building, constructed of Texas limestone blocks and sporting a Texas Star neon sign in the shape of Texas, has long been a landmark.
The place was originally a mom-and-pop operation run by Mama Aselee Mattie and Papa Frank Klein, who purchased it in 1952. Papa Klein was a singer and guitarist, and his Texas Star Playboys, a group that included young Larry Nolen, called the inn home until the early 1960s. The Texas Star Playboys appeared on KEYL television, now KENS in San Antonio, from 1951 to 1953, during the early days of TV. The Texas Star was a place in the finest Texas tradition, where one could go for food, drink, and "down home" music. Texas singer Johnny Bush, who later wrote Willie Nelson's hit "Whiskey River," got his first professional job at the Texas Star in 1954. After going on to a successful singing and songwriting career, Bush returned to the inn in 1984 to celebrate his many years in music. Many other famous musicians played at the inn over the years, including Willie Nelson, Ray Price, Faron Young, and Roger Miller. Miller, Nelson, and Bush were all in Ray Price's band at one time.
The Texas Star also provided a venue for local talent. Jim Noblett, of the Cactus Rose Band, reminisces about jamming with Johnny Bush there. Noblett also met his future bride, Linda Jo McMillan, at the inn when she was singing with Keith Fillmore's band. San Antonio has long been a military town, and many servicemen and women found good food, drink, and music at the Texas Star Inn. For many the nightclub was an introduction to a real Texas honky-tonk.
The inn was sold in 1979 to Polly Herschberger, Gene Pilton, and Dodie Sullivan. In the mid-1980s, Polly and Lorene Lucky bought it. Parts of the movie Waltz Across Texas were filmed there in the early 1980s. The dance hall ceased operation in 1993 and became Grady's Bar-B-Que restaurant, a place where recorded country music still played in 2011. Grady's also offered live entertainment on weekends.
Bill Porterfield, The Greatest Honky Tonks in Texas (Dallas: Taylor, 1983). San Antonio Express-News, May 9, 2002. Honky Tonk Texas, U.S.A., "Dance Hall Directory" (http://www.honkytonktx.com/dancehalls/), accessed January 28, 2011. Geronimo Treviño III, Dance Halls and Last Calls: A History of Texas Country Music (Plano, Texas: Republic of Texas Press, 2002).