Second year on tap for Barber Shop Bar Reply

Proprietor John McIntosh (right), enjoys Fish ‘N Chips with Mike Kelley from Austin’s Bits and Druthers food trailer at the Barber Shop Bar’s recent first anniversary celebration.  

The Barber Shop Bar opened just over a year ago on Mercer Street in Dripping Springs’ historic district. Owner John McIntosh talked to Around Dripping Springs about the well-attended 1st anniversary celebration, his first year in business, and what lies ahead for the proprietor and his patrons.

WHERE ARE YOU FROM, WHERE DID YOU GO TO SCHOOL, AND HOW LONG HAVE YOU LIVED AROUND DRIPPING SPRINGS?

I was born in Houston, but went to kindergarten in Dripping Springs and elementary in Wimberley. There wasn’t a high school in Wimberley at the time, so we moved back to Houston. I attended UT Austin and have a BA (English). I returned to Dripping in the mid 90’s and live on my family’s ranch which we have owned since the late 1960’s.

WHAT BROUGHT YOU TO DRIPPING SPRINGS? 

I have always loved this area, and after a short career working for a forensic engineering firm after college, I knew I wasn’t cut out for 9-5 office life. I moved onto my family’s ranch and started an organic farm.

YOU PREVIOUSLY OWNED ANOTHER BUSINESS. TELL US ABOUT THAT. 

I used to own Lost Truffle Farm with my ex-wife Elizabeth. We raised vegetables and cut-flowers. We bought an old truffle orchard off Prochnow Rd. (The whole Dripping as a truffle growing region is another story). Anyway, we ran a successful CSA and market garden for a number of years. We worked very hard and have some great memories, but eventually became burned out working such long hours. We started landscaping and Elizabeth opened a nursery (Bloom, in front of Rolling in Thyme and Dough). Our lives started to grow in different directions, pun intended, and we got a divorce. That’s about the time I started seriously looking into opening a brewpub in Dripping Springs.


SO WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO OPEN THE BARBER SHOP BAR?

I started homebrewing about 5 years ago. One Christmas, I was giving away bottles of beer I brewed, and the discussion started about why I couldn’t sell beer I made. The idea of a brewpub came up and everyone quickly realized that Dripping could really use a local watering hole. At that point, the search was on for the perfect location.

TO WHAT DO YOU ATTRIBUTE YOUR SUCCESS IN THIS FIRST YEAR?

I think several things have been in our favor. Great location is key. Authentic rustic charm in the building that makes anyone feel at home, but not crossing the line to “dive-bar” status. Being the first bar in town certainly helps. The community desperately needed a gathering spot for friends and neighbors. I also think that having a great selection of local craft beer makes a difference.

HOW DID YOUR 1ST ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATION GO?

We celebrated our first anniversary at the end of January. It was a huge success. We debuted our first house made, cask conditioned ales. These are beers that naturally carbonate and finish in a special type of keg called a firkin. It’s what is referred to in Great Britain as Real Ale. We also had Bits and Druthers food trailer come out from Austin and make Fish and Chips. The whole day was a blur until 11:30 when people finally started to leave and I could sit down. It was a great day and VERY gratifying to have all your customers come in to tell you thanks.


WHAT’S THE BEST THING ANYONE HAS SAID TO YOU DURING YOUR FIRST YEAR?

Lots of amazing funny quotes that should NOT be printed here come to mind, but my favorite statement was something we heard all the time after we opened, ” I’ve met more of my neighbors in your bar in the past few weeks than I’ve met living in Dripping in the past few years.” I built long tables and benches to encourage people to sit with strangers and get to know the other members of the community.

HOW ABOUT THE FUNNIEST THING OR WORST THING (OR BOTH) SAID?

It happens each week as someone comes in and asks for a “haircut” while looking around for the barber chair. Everyone at the bar gets a chuckle and we add another number to the chalkboard.

SO, WHAT’S NEXT FOR YOU AND FOR BARBER SHOP PATRONS?

We will continue to expand our beer offerings as I get comfortable with the brewing equipment. We’ll continue to make small improvements as they are needed, but we are hoping that we have set up the ideal community meeting spot and that we can just focus on offering a great place with great beer on tap.

ANYTHING ELSE YOU’D LIKE TO ADD?

I want to say Thank You again to everyone who has supported us in our first year, everyone who voted us New Business of the Year, and most importantly, everyone who came out and supported our Fireman’s for Firefighters Fundraiser. That was such an overwhelming success and allowed us to express our gratitude to the Firefighters of Hays county for all they do. Raising $10,000 in one night, with only 3 days planning is something to celebrate and really showed the strength of our community.

CONGRATS ON A SUCCESSFUL FIRST YEAR, FROM AROUND DRIPPING SPRINGS!

Visit the Barber Shop Bar online at www.barbershopbar.com

Follow Around Dripping Springs on Twitter @AroundDS

RR12 RESIDENTS PREVAIL WITH TxDOT Reply

The concerted efforts of 700+ Dripping Springs residents along RR12 paid off today, when TxDOT officials relented and agreed to re-pave the recently chip sealed road with a higher quality, more durable, and more expensive hot seal mix overlay.

“It’s pretty hard to make a $10B government-run organization take a second look,” said Fix Ranch Road 12 spokesperson Shari Schmok.  “But this laid-back, eclectic community came together cohesively and intelligently, with so many people stepping up to the plate and taking action together to get this done.”

Cheap Seal Surface

What got done is a fix that area residents have called for since October, when RR12 was re-paved with a low grade, large aggregate chip seal material that Schmok says is intended for low traffic volume traveling at low speeds. 

The website Schmok launched – www.fixranchroad12.com – states that chip seal is used for roads with traffic rates of less than 2500 cars per day at speeds below 45MPH, with no heavy duty truck traffic. According to the site, RR12 exceeded 5,000 cars per day two years ago, at speeds of 60MPH with heavy freight haul truck usage. 

In other words, residents who quickly joined the cause noted that a chip seal surface laid by TxDOT in late October, would not last long under current RR12 wear and tear. But Schmok said the impact of the chip seal resurfacing was more immediate than that for residents.

“Everyone noticed a significant increase in noise right away. It sounded like an airport,” Schmok said. “Loose gravel also started hitting windshields and damaging vehicles, and cars started skidding.” 

Residents React

Residents complained to TxDOT that the noise affected people living up to a mile away from the road. Some claimed that TxDOT’s budgetary decision to use the cheaper chip seal actually cost some residents money when sales contracts for their properties fell through due to the noticeably increased noise volume. 

Others claimed experiencing a negative impact on property values and economic development along this main road that connects Dripping Springs with the Lake Travis area. Schmok adds that RR12 is a top route for cyclists, who began to cancel rides and avoid the road due to the hazards caused by the rapidly deteriorating new road surface.

“We met with TxDOT on November 9th,” Schmok said. “They basically told us to live with it. I think they thought the problem would just go away.”

What didn’t go away for TxDOT was the handful of concerned residents. Schmok put a petition online and says people immediately started signing it. Following the holiday season, letters were sent to a few local elected officials without results. That’s when Schmok put up the Fix Ranch Road 12 website and hundreds of people responded. 

“All of that got Representative Jason Isaac’s attention,” Schmok said. “He agreed to create a local town hall meeting.”

Town Hall Meeting

The meeting got a lot more people’s attention. Held at Dripping Springs City Hall on February 6th, it was standing room only with over 250 people attending, and was covered by local media. By then, more than 500 people had signed the petition and residents not only had the attention of their elected officials, but of TxDOT and the rest of the Dripping Springs community. TxDOT Austin District Engineer Carlos Lopez was a latecomer to the meeting, reportedly not arriving until the final minutes of the meeting, but Schmok says Lopez clearly got the message.

“Since then, Carlos has been in contact with me daily, working together to find solutions,” Schmok said. “TxDOT also paid to bring in the Texas Transportation Institute from Texas A&M to evaluate the road and make recommendations.” 

Joining Representative Jason Isaac to weigh in on the road’s condition by this time were Senator Jeff Wentworth (R-District 25), Representative Paul Workman (R-District 47), and Hays County Commissioner Ray Whisenant (R-Precinct 4), along with several TxDOT officials. The result was a closed door meeting at the capitol today, attended by several TxDOT officials, along with Lopez, Isaac, Wentworth, Whisenant, and Schmok.

Summer 2012

Today’s successful outcome for RR12 residents was delivered to the community in the form of a resolution letter to Rep. Isaac from TxDOT’s Lopez. 

“At this point, TxDOT recommends a hot mix overlay for the entire lenght of RM 12,” Lopez wrote. “The existing seal coat will be used as an underseal…The hot mix overlay will also address the rock loss at the intersections and is much quieter than a seal coat.” 

The initial chip seal job back in October, was invoiced at $338K. TxDOT’s cost estimate for the hot seal overcoat, according to a letter to Rep. Isaac back in November, would run $1.1M. Now that the hot seal overlay fix is a reality, actual costs have not yet been determined and will be impacted by a variety of circumstances. The repairs will be funded by TxDOT. The agency derives its maintenance funds from gas taxes.

In today’s letter, Lopez estimated completion time for the project by the end of summer 2012. That means residents and travelers along RR12 will have to put up with any disruptions of traffic flow through the re-paving effort but Shari Schmok is not complaining. 

“I can’t say enough about Senator Wentworth, and all the right people who came to the table at the right time,” Schmok said. “I saw the absolute best of our community and met some amazing people. I was so moved by so many people taking action together – literally in the hundreds – and all of them coming with credibility.” 

Dripping Springs Benchmarked

Schmok, who now manages an email distribution list of more than 700 citizens from the Fix Ranch Road 12 online effort, said she remains most impressed with TxDOT engineer Carlos Lopez. 

“He has done a fabulous job and worked very diligently with us and his team, and has committed to work directly with Dripping Springs officials to plan for continued infrastructure improvements (as the area grows).”

But it may be Schmok and her virtual cavalcade of rallied residents who have most impressed others outside the area. 

“This has all helped to galvanize people in other areas across Central Texas, who have been experiencing similar problems but haven’t been able to get them resolved,” said Schmok. “Dripping Springs is now being benchmarked by other counties who want to know how we got it done.”