What’s In A Name: Can A Hip Restaurant Survive in a Small Town ?

I live in a rural area. There’s a town called Bellville that’s about 11 miles away. I know this because I have run along the highway on my own two feet from there to my house. Bellville is about one hour west of Houston.

In this town lives an aging population of Conservatives. There are Catholics, Lutherans, Methodists and Baptists, in that order. Plus a few independent churches. The Democrats’ float gets booed at in the county fair parade. Even the poor people vote Republican.

It’s the county seat and the rich ranchers, businessmen, and professionals make up the main tax base. The school district has one high school, one middle school and two elementary schools, one of which is in another town. The last bond election failed to pass. These people don’t want the town to change or grow. They like it being a small town.

All this is meant to give you an idea of the kind of people who support local businesses.

We have three Mexican restaurants, a Trump Burger that sells burgers and is owned by middle Easterners, a Sonic and a Dairy Queen. The town square is a literal square of shops built that are built around the courthouse. The highway passes around the courthouse with one way roads. Don’t make the mistake of going the wrong way.

One way road!

There are high-end boutiques, a closed-down Wells Fargo, some real estate offices, a wine bar, a western clothing store, and a few other small businesses in the square.

On one corner of the square, where there is a stop sign, there is a two story building that houses upstairs living space (I think) and a restaurant space at street level. There have been multiple restaurants in this space since I moved to the area in 2003. They always fail.

One of the restaurants in this spot was the ‘famous’ Trump Cafe. I say famous because it got a little bit of media attention at one time. It has since closed down. But as I mentioned above, we still have the Trump Burger in town. After the Trump Cafe left, I think it sat empty for a long time.

Recently this space was purchased or leased by some new blood. They are evidently young. They have put in a restaurant that currently has very short hours of business.

They sell coffee and snacks, and say that lunch is coming soon. I can’t find a menu online. The interior looks really nice as if they spent a lot of money on renovating.

The name of the restaurant has been the subject of some discussion among the locals.

The younger residents of the town, of which there aren’t many, have expressed support , approval and excitement about the opening of the new restaurant. The older folks have made their opinions known on Facebook and either openly mocked or politely questioned the wisdom of the name and the bad luck of that location. Yes, I was one of those older folks who immediately thought that this restaurant would fail when I saw the sign.

The name of the restaurant is The Gathery. What do you think?

My reasons for questioning the name are that ‘gathery’ is not a real word, nor is ‘eat house’. It just sounded dumb to me. I am a word person. I’m okay with some made up words, but this one just doesn’t appeal to me. Maybe the food and atmosphere can overcome the name?

From their Facebook page.

It does look very nice and historic inside.
Looks yummy. I noticed many requests for gluten free baked goods in the comments on this photos.

I really want the new restaurant to succeed. I am just a bit less than optimistic based on previous attempts in that location. I probably won’t eat there myself because I can’t afford fancy coffee and lunches that I can make myself and I only eat gluten free baked goods. Maybe someone else will take me out!

Now keep in mind what I told you about the demographics of the town. Do you think this idea will go over?

If you’d like to know what else Bellville, Texas has to offer, check out this post. We have a castle that’s owned by the same man who owns one of the most popular restaurants, Newmans Bakery; a farmers market; a fairground; and a very nice city park where I like to run. There’s also a blacksmith that has been on the Forged in Fire TV show, and the best Meat Market in the county. Come visit! We might be Conservative, but we are friendly, too.



  1. I enjoyed the sharing of your nearby town Paula, thanks for a good post! I wrote a post for this coming Sunday about my experience with our favorite eatery. I hope the Gathery succeeds and people are kind to them!

  2. I’ve watched several new restaurants start with relatively short hours, especially if they are family-owned and operated places. We have a coffee shop across the street from us (in a town with over a million people) that is only open from 9 am to 1 pm. Many of our favorite dinner places are only open for dinner, from 5 pm to 10 pm. A lot of the brunch places close at 2 pm. I also thought it was weird at first, but it might actually help these places be profitable. You’d think more hours is better, but if you only have customers coming in at a certain rush period, then you are otherwise just paying to staff and maintain an empty restaurant. Especially in a tight labor market with rising wages, it’s probably the only financial option.

    Frankly, I love going to hipster establishments to eat. They usually get their food from local farmers, so I know what I am eating was responsibly raised and my money is staying in the community. (We wouldn’t be freaking out about the supply chain if more people did this!) They take pride in what they produce because they think it says a lot about them. I’ll happily pay more for that experience than drive thru mystery meat.

    Those folks could have easily taken their investment to a bigger city, but they made a choice to try to renew a city block that was probably decimated by Amazon like many others across the country. That’s a pretty big ethical decision. Hope it works out for them. We’ve been visiting my in-laws in rural Hartwell, Georgia, for two decades now, and it’s so sad what has happened to their town square. It used to be an awesome place to shop – one of my favorite stores ever was a place called Foothills Outfitters, which had all kinds of top-notch outdoorsy gear. As soon as Amazon took off, not a single store could survive. And once the stores were gone, the restaurants were too. Now folks only go downtown to renew their car registration or hit the post office. Without that kind of regular social interaction and civic pride, the culture of a town can quickly change.

    (FWIW, if they are hipsters, they will probably totally have gluten free options.)

    • I agree , I just don’t know if enough people in the town will support them. I’m writing as an observer of how things usually work there. But things are changing slowly. For example someone did manage to get a pavilion built where they have a successful farmers market once a month. The population is only about 4,200. Many elderly people. But it sits on a main highway so city people pass through on the way to other towns. They also come to town when we have special events like the fair and spring music festival. And I agree that it’s good to shop local. If they have enough money to wait it out long enough to build a base, they might make it. As the younger generation takes over the town, places like this might do well. For my kids sake, I don’t want the town to die out. But I don’t think it will , being so close to Houston. And I hope you are right about the gluten free options! Side note, I’ve always wished I could open an old fashioned candy store/soda shop on the square. Gimme sugar! 🤣

  3. I hope they succeed, too, Paula. I kinda like the name, probably because it has the word “gather” in it, and after two years of social distancing, (isolation) the thought of people getting together makes me smile.

  4. The word, Gathery is probably, like Ann says, to remind people that they could NOT gather for so long. But there would be lots of other options, like the Meet Market, the Clustery, the Convergence, the Hang-round, and some are real words! 😁
    But the decor on the wall reminds me that I have to clean out my basement, so someone else will have to take you and your clan there!
    And what is the spiral doing in the corner!? Where does THAT go? I might be willing to visit just to look at that, if Anita and I ever come to Texas. 🤠

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