In the blazing hot sun, the line for quality Texas BBQ on the back patio of the Turkey Hotel does not let up. While standing in line I heard stories of various individuals of how they made their own trek to Turkey.
“We come to this area every summer for work and have been for the last four years,” a customer said as the wafting of BBQ was getting stronger. “This is a highlight the entire time. I spend a lot of evenings in the back patio, and sometimes stay outside with a beer and friends all night.”
When you look around you are transported to an oasis of relaxation. Hotel Turkey always has a musician working the stage most nights, which would make Bob Wills proud, a musical legend born and raised in Turkey. Turkey, Texas is known well for its yearly ‘Bob Wills Festival’ in honor of the hometown celebrity. Now it seems there are even more and more reasons to visit Turkey any time of the year. Hotel Turkey is a perfect spot for a weekend with friends, and spouses and a place for kids to have endless entertainment!
I was able to snag an interview with Tina Carson, owner of Hotel Turkey, and her right-hand woman, Carly du Menil (pictured serving meat) and ask how their success has impacted their community.
“Yeah, we employ a lot of people in the town,” Carly commented as she wiped the sweat from her brow.
“We really try to support everyone in our community as well. We are not in competition,” Tina said between handling a guest’s needs.
“She is too humble,” Carly laughed. “Because of her and Pat (Tina’s husband and co-owner) four more businesses were able to open up in town.” They were not wrong as just recently Turkey Creek Winery opened as a fully functional winery and restaurant. There is Lacy’s Dry Goods, a 5th generation-owned department store in a 100-year-old building. They also have Turkey Tracks a fully operational coffee shop for everyone to enjoy! Hotel Turkey hosts a ‘Hand-Picked’ Event on certain Sundays for their Sunday BBQ where local vendors and food producers can sell their products! We met this wonderful retired couple selling handmade jewelry (pictured together). Hotel Turkey prides itself on their hand-delivered meat from ‘Raiders Red Meats’. This program connects Texas Tech students in the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources and local businesses who need a meat supplier. That means the hotel’s restaurant meat is also locally sourced. It seems everyone who works at Hotel Turkey is always looking for unique ways to support their community from musicians to local schools fundraising through ice cream.
I was curious, what was the process of Hotel Turkey becoming such a tourist hot spot in the Panhandle of Texas and the story is quite fascinating. “In 2015 we bought the hotel from the previous owner, who is so thankful were able to keep the historic building up,” Tina said. “When we got it there were only six rooms that were functional out of the 12 in the building. About a few weeks later the Travel Channel called up to schedule a stay and an interview for their ‘Build a Sandwich’ series. In a month we had a whole concert planned, and we had Travel Channel come and there was only one room decorated well enough for them to take video of. It has been a whirlwind since.”
You may be wondering why a small hotel in Turkey would have such a consistent and diverse group of musicians coming almost all year round. Hotel Turkey’s secret weapon; Pat Carson, co-owner, is also head coordinator of booking musicians for the Bob Wells Festival. They provide live music almost every night, and the hotel just hosted their Song Festival where they spend an entire weekend highlighting amazing acts and songwriting skills from musicians of all walks of life.
If you were ever curious if dreaming big could change your town? I think Hotel Turkey’s success should be a testament to that. They are a major employer in Turkey and love their community. They have shaped a small town and reinvigorated their local economy by investing in it without knowing for sure if they will be successful. Hard work and a well-thought-out vision can do anything. So take a trip to Turkey, Texas some point this year and watch out for another ‘Hand-Picked’ event by following their Facebook page or check out their calendar at www.hotelturkeytexas.com.
Pro Tip: Make sure you plan ahead for your visit to Hotel Turkey! They fill up many weekends, but there is still a lot of space. The hotel has many container homes for stays along with rooms in the hotel. It’s perfect for a family getaway!