Historical Dining back on Track at Airy Mount

BY CHRISTI BERTELSON/BURNET BULLETIN

 

Moving to Burnet in 2012 the last thing on AB Walters mind was starting up another business.

After successfully developing and running his business Senox since 1979 in Georgetown, Walters and his wife Elizabeth were looking to unwind on a ranch somewhere in Texas.

“Dan Brady from Jim Berry Real Estate called me and said, “I think your really going to like this place I have to show you”, and I did, I fell in love with it,” said Walters.

Brady had showed a ranch off County Road 335 in Burnet to Walters and his wife thinking it would be the perfect fit for everything Walters was looking for.

Moving and establishing their homestead in Burnet AB and Elizabeth “Lizzy” noticed, there was not much of a variety of restaurants to choose from in Burnet.

“Coming from Georgetown where there is something new to eat on just about every corner, I though to myself we should have more varieties in Burnet,” said Walters.

With possibility meeting opportunity, Walters relaxing ranch days were on the back burner and the idea of “Historic Fine dining” started to take on character.

“The ideas were there, my next thing was figuring out who the best people would be to bring on board,” said Walters.

Walters enlisted long time friend Robert McClosky and brother-in-law Louis Johnson to help with the creation of “Historic Dining” in Burnet.

“Robert was a chef at Pappadeaux for 16 years; he is the artistic one and he can make anything taste good,” said Walters.

“Louis knows the ins-and-outs of running and managing and the workings of a business; he’s worked as upper management for Sam’s Club, Dollar General, Pilot and Baby’s R US,”

With his two confidants, agreeing to the idea, the brainstorming started and Airy Mount seemed to fit the bill for the design Walters had in mind.

“It was the perfect place for everything we had in mind,” said Walters.

Purchasing the Airy Mount Bed and Breakfast in late 2013 Walters arranged with the City of Burnet to purchase and move the Historic Craddock house that sat on Boundary and League to Airy Mount in 2014.

“We want the history of Burnet to stay alive,” said Walters.

“So the Craddock house was a great addition to the Johnson House and the Stovepipe Barn,”

The weather delayed the move for sometime, but finally in Feb. 2015 the Craddock House finally made it’s way to it’s new home on the East side of Burnet on top of the Airy Mount hill.

“The house moved pretty easy, we only had a couple of minor hiccups with the ground being so saturated the truck got stuck in the mud, but we eventually got it placed on Airy Mount between the Johnson House and the Stovepipe Barn,” said Walters.

With everything in place, Walters predicted the new restaurants would be open by early 2016.

“We were ready; we had vegetables growing in our garden, the blueprints to our ideas and restorations to the buildings,” said Walters.

Lizzy's passion for vintage and history played a part in what would be the outcome of Airy Mount.

“Lizzy and I agreed Burnet County has an abundance of great history and we want that to stay alive,” said Walters.

“We want to show people who are passing through the rich history that Burnet has and what a wonderful town this is,”

“We also want residents who are from here and live here to have a place where they can go to bring back memories and maybe learn things about Burnet history they didn’t know,” said Walters.

The ideas for Airy Mount were under way and the restoration of the Craddock House and Johnson House were moving along when Walters and his affiliates hit a snag with gaining permits from LCRA.

“They were worried about the rain run off at that location with all the improvements we are doing to the property,” said Walters.

“The water that runs off of Airy Mount makes its way to Hamilton Creek and eventually making its way into the lakes around Burnet County,”

“And they were doing their job, making sure the creeks and lakes around here have enough run off going to them, I completely respect them for that,” said Walters.

Walters agreeing to the terms LCRA set for the property and the run off hired an Engineer to assist with placing nine water features on the property and two locations with rainwater collection barrels that will help run the establishment.

“It cost $30,000 for the engineer, so a total of $150,000 has been added to the budget in order to get our permits from LCRA granted and add the additions to the property,” said Walters.

With the retention ponds now added to the property, 50 percent of the rainfall in that location will makes its way to Hamilton Creek; while the two locations that house the rainwater collection barrels on the property will assist in running the facilities.

“We will not only be sending rainwater to Hamilton creek and using what we collect to run Airy Mount, but we also have PEC putting in three phase electricity and the City is bringing in a well and gas lines,” said Walters.

With the addition of three phase electricity and access to the City of Burnet water lines, the East side of Burnet can now accommodate for other businesses to set up shop in the area.

“Not only do PEC and the City bringing these things in help us, but it also helps the possibility of other businesses coming in,” said Walters.

With everything now back on track and permits granted for Walters construction and restorations can continue atop of Airy Mount.

“The theme of the entire place is going to be Historic dining; with photos of Burnet History, the AR Johnson House, the Craddock House, we are keeping all three places true to their history,” said Walters.

“We don’t want to take away from the history of Burnet, so we are restoring all three places to as original as we can and turning them into three different restaurants,”

The Johnson house will host a fine dining experience, while the Stovepipe barn will be the place for Barbecue, Pizza and hamburgers along with an up front view of the Live Music stage that will be on the property.

The Craddock house will be the new home of Mama’s Home Cooking, which is housed on South West Street, by the river walk right now.

“Mama’s is doing great at its location, but it was always intended to be in the Craddock House when the plans were made,” said Walters.

“I think people are going to like it once we finish it; and we have some great plans, like horses that will plow a garden as you are pulling up to the Welcome center that will have displays for all different wineries around Burnet County,”

“The property will not only serve as the Historical Dining either; it will also host a Farmer’s Market and greenhouse to the left when you pull into the four lane entry way,” said Walters.

Walters who hopes to be complete with the project by summer 2017 said his plans include many more things on the property.

“It’s all about the history, and I really want Burnet to have a place like this that they can enjoy and call their own,” said Walters.

“We are going to have replica Stovepipe cannons at the entrance, rooms for groups to rent for special parties, great food, live entertainment and maybe even a couple of ghostly and fun surprises for guests to witness,” said Walters.

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