Willie’s Truck Stop Theatre

There’s a new venue about 50 miles down the road from Dallas – a theatre inside a truck stop – and Willie Nelson had a hand in building it.

Carl’s Corner truck stop has been a longtime roadside attraction, and owner Carl Cornelius is a longtime friend of Nelson. The two men collaborated on selling “Bio-willie,” the Redheaded Gypsy’s blend of B-20 biodiesel fuel made from vegetable oils. Nelson told Cornelius he wanted to play Carl’s.

The truck stop included an “adult bar” that was run by Cornelius’s sons, who have since died. There were hot tubs on an elevated platform and mirrors surrounding the room. Cornelius said it was a very successful business but he had grown tired of it and was shutting it down when Nelson told him he wanted to play at the truck stop.

“All I had was a big bar back there with a swimming pool in the middle of it,” Cornelius told Pollstar. “So, we have a partner named Steve Gilchrist and Steve came up with the idea of buying some theatre seats. We covered over the pool and put in 850 seats.”

Nelson and his road crew put in the sound and lighting system for the new Willie’s Place. Cornelius is fielding booking requests.

Along with Willie, Pat Green has already played the venue and a benefit concert raised $150,000 for Farm Aid.

“We’ll have a few name people to start off with,” Cornelius said. “We’ll let them have the gate to start off with because we gotta build it up. The unknown people are not going to create a crowd down here right now.

“We might try to get Merle Haggard or people like that to come in, draw a little crowd.”

Carl’s Corner can be reached at 254-582-8433.

Joe Reinartz