In early 2021, Goldthwaite will have a new restaurant and bar called the Southside Tavern. The story of how the Hammond Brothers became restaurant owners is one for the local history books.
The Importance of History and Community
In a town like Goldthwaite, how far back your family tree goes matters. It’s kind of a badge of honor to have generations of connection to our little town. In Goldthwaite, the community is at the core of everything, when times are good, and when times are bad, everyone shares in it, and the earned respect of sharing that history goes a long way and means an awful lot.
A Family Legacy
In 1925, Travis and Nick Hammond’s great grandfather, Lee Long, purchased land in Goldthwaite to construct a mechanic shop and filling station named Southside Garage. In 1946, Hugh Moreland bought half of the interest in the lots to build a feed store. The property was razed, and broken up into Lee Long’s Southside Grocery and the other half became H. E. Moreland and Sons Feed. These businesses thrived until the mid-1970’s when both eventually closed and became used for storage or vacant until 2016. That is where the new story of Southside begins.
Growing Up on the Ranch
Travis and Nick Hammond grew up here, 4th generation in Mills County, and have lived here for almost their entire lives. They were raised on their grandfather, Robert Long’s, RL Ranch, and spent their youth and young adult years working on the ranch. The 95-year-old Robert is the patriarch of the family and spent countless hours with the boys teaching them about the land and the livestock. He instilled in them the value of hard work.
Different Paths Lead to the Same Place
Travis Hammond was only away from Goldthwaite for four years while attending The University of North Texas. He returned in 2009 with a degree in Hospitality Management. He had a job lined up to work with a national restaurant chain and had always wanted to operate a restaurant, but had given up on the idea because he lost the enthusiasm for it, so he decided to go back to work on the family ranch instead. After a year back on the ranch, he took a job with TXDOT and continued to work on the family ranch, but on a smaller scale.
Nick Hammond moved away from Goldthwaite for a while and lived in two of the biggest cities in Texas, got married to his wife Brittany, but was feeling the tug to come back home and was looking for the right thing to make it happen. “I want to raise my family where I was born and have the sense of community I’ve felt.” Brittany has always loved food and cooking. She worked in restaurants bartending and waiting tables. When she met Nick, their mutual love of food helped them connect, but when they returned to the ranch to work from time to time, they did not find many options for the variety of food they were looking for in Goldthwaite.
A Vision of a Legacy Reborn
Growing up on the ranch, the Hammond family made for a large group, and they knew how to cook. Travis had imagined bringing the food from his family’s table growing up to the masses. Following a long day of working cattle on the RL Ranch in late October 2015, the brothers were hungry and wanting a drink. Goldthwaite was dry at the time, so that “drink” was not an option. They settled for just a meal. At that time of day, there wasn’t a single full-service restaurant open, so they opted for the Hot Box at Quick Check. And that got them to talking… “There’s got to be something done about the dining options in Goldthwaite.”
It All Comes Full Circle
Nick and Brittany began to look for real estate where they could begin something themselves. They located a building on the square at 1009 Fifth Street and acquired it along with the adjacent plot, unbeknownst to them, that had formerly belonged to Nick’s great-grandfather, Lee Long, when it was the Southside Garage. This serendipitous moment led to the belief that with help from Travis, this idea was destined to be a success–and out of nowhere they all collectively decided to open a restaurant. A restaurant that would bring back the family name Southside.
In the same vein as taverns of the 1700’s, the Hammonds want Southside Tavern to be a gathering point to eat, drink, meet, discuss and enjoy with their neighbors and travelers. “Our goal is good food, sourced locally as much as possible…with a coordinating beer, wine, and cocktail menu.” However, the Southside Tavern also represents more than just food and drink. The Tavern’s layout is designed around an expansive Mills County Native Black Walnut topped bar, which was harvested less than 10 miles from the Tavern. So just like those running the Tavern, the bones of the building are from Mills County as well.
Nearing the Finish Line
If you have never opened a bar or restaurant before, it is not easy. It always takes longer than you want and costs more than you care to spend. A project like this in a small town is not without its risks. Tradition and experience are only part of the equation. “Without the tremendous support of our family and friends, we would’ve never been able to bring a project of this magnitude to fruition.” That local support has come through supporting events like food pop-ups at events and other businesses that have helped the Hammonds test their recipes, menus, and in every case have completely sold out. An important piece of the Southside puzzle is Jon Cabaniss, who is the Chef for Southside. Chosen specifically because he understands the importance of the connection between the Hammonds, Southside, and Goldthwaite–and he can cook!
Only a Matter of Time
The Hammonds and Southside Tavern are still putting all of the final pieces together, including a patio, which will be the only one in Goldthwaite and will feature covered dining, a fire pit, games, and an acoustic stage down the road. This will allow for events and special occasions to make new memories for our community. Family is important in Goldthwaite, and at the Southside Tavern, you will certainly feel like one of the family. The Hammonds are hopeful to have an abbreviated menu available to kickoff 2021. That value of hard work instilled by their grandfather is about to pay off. When asked for a quote that best summarized the project, the response from the Hammonds was “work your ass off cuz we’ve been doing it since day one.”