1281 Gruene Road
New Braunfels, TX 78130
Hours: Thu-Fri 11am-12am, Sat 10am-10pm, Sun 10am-9pm, Mon-Wed 11am-9pm
Written by: Robert Tomas Ellenberger
Photos by: Robert Tomas Ellenberger
Nostalgia has found its home at Gruene Hall, one of the coolest, oldest dance halls and saloons in Texas. In 1878, when cotton was king, Henry D. Gruene, an affluent developer and landowner in south-central Texas, provided jobs for many of the locals. Realizing that after long, hot days of harvesting cotton a man worked up a mighty tall thirst, Gruene commissioned Christian Herry to build a saloon near the center of town. It would also double as a town hall, where the workers and community could gather to socialize, have drinks, and dance. Being the humble man that he was, Henry christened it, Gruene Hall. Of course, cotton didn’t remain king, and the town of Gruene didn’t always thrive.
In 1975, Pat Molak, who loved live music, had a dream. He would resurrect Gruene Hall as a viable establishment. Pat had no idea how significant his decision would be, he was just pursuing his passion in an old nostalgic building with a colorful history. Fast forward to a beautiful Saturday afternoon in January 2012, and Pat Molak and partner Mary Jane Nalley are still maintaining Gruene Hall with care, once again the center of a thriving community—minus the cotton.
There is a hospitable and honorable sense of pride amongst the staff in representing such a celebrated venue. The bands range from local to legendary. Musical acts take the stage daily, facing picnic-style seating. For headlining acts and evening performances, the main stage is supported with a house lighting and sound system. Technical details of the venue are sparse; they’re just not needed. Gruene Hall prefers that bands play through the house system, (which is ‘dialed in’ for the acoustics of the venue), although they do accommodate bands that by contractual obligation, or by preference, need to use their own set-up.
“Hall of Famers” Jerry Lee Lewis and Bo Diddley played at Gruene Hall, and B.B. King graced its stage in 2011. The list of notable moments and performances is long; the movie, Michael, with John Travolta and Andie Macdowell was shot here, and Lyle Lovett still looks for his picture on the picture wall.