Liberty Hill’s Stocktank serves up southern food, live music

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After hosting some of the area’s still talked about live music events in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s, Teresa Garner and her husband Pete of The Stocktank are offering live music and dancing but have added southern style cooking in a laid-back, family environment reminiscent of granny's house. (Dana Delgado Photo)

After hosting some of the area’s still talked about live music events in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s, Teresa Garner and her husband Pete of The Stocktank are offering live music and dancing but have added southern style cooking in a laid-back, family environment reminiscent of granny’s house. (Dana Delgado Photo)

By Dana Delgado

Teresa Garner says she’s not much for smiling but just put a guitar in her hand or let her loose in the kitchen and the unassuming southern girl beams brightly and gives everyone around her reason to celebrate.

After hosting some of the area’s still talked about live music events with the likes of Alvin Crow, The Debonairs, People’s Choice and Gary P. Nunn, which drew upwards of 500 for some performances in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s, the owner of The Stocktank said she is a little older and a lot wiser. After some brainstorming, The Stocktank has re-emerged with a new spin.

“We closed to take care of other business and made it our residence in the spring of ‘94 until 2012 when we began plans for what it is now,” she said.

Located at 201 Stocktank Drive, off of FM 1869, a mere six miles east from the State Hwy 29 intersection, The Stocktank is again providing live music and dancing but in a more intimate setting.

“I want it to be more of a family atmosphere, reminiscent of my granny’s house,” said Mrs. Garner. Besides the engaging music and inviting country ambience, The Stocktank is also serving up southern style specialties from Teresa’s Dixie Kitchen.

As the oldest of nine children and born to a very young teenage mother, Teresa grew up with an extended family in her granny’s home in her native Alabama.

“I came from a family that was very poor but very giving,” she said. “We were sharecroppers and picked cotton, but you never went hungry. We were allowed to pick vegetables from neighbors’ gardens and we always had chickens. Our family had its share of problems, but God was in the center of everything.”

Of meager means, Mrs. Garner said her kinfolk were naturally cookers that had to rely on fresh and available ingredients. It was during these early experiences that she developed her passion for cooking. She recalls that at age 10 she approached her grandmother about cooking something. Her grandmother handed her a potato and some bacon and told her to collect some wood for a fire to cook on. It was among the first meals she would ever cook.

“It was great,” she said. “We all ate it.”

Today, her cooking, which she prides in using only fresh ingredients, is renown in the area.

“I love to cook,” The Stocktank owner said. “The greatest thrill is to pull something from the earth and just cook it. I don’t really use recipes; although, I’ve researched them, but rely on the flavor from the fresh ingredients I use. I like to cook things as simple as possible, not complicated and people have shown that they really like our food.”

Garner said she welcomes everyone to the Stocktank to savor the fried chicken and biscuits, the to-die-for hamburgers, heavenly heirloom desserts or other menu items in the clean, laid-back family atmosphere.

“I’d like them to feel like their sitting at home or at grandma’s,” she said.

Equally important to Mrs. Garner is music. She loves to sing and plays the guitar, the mandolin and the upright bass.

Teresa said she was singing to a hairbrush by age five in a family where there was always singing. She learned her first few chords on a guitar from her Uncle Charles and so enthralled, she used to hang out at a guitar store. A bluegrass festival captivated her and it has been her passion ever since; although, she enjoys classic rock and “old hillbilly” music.

As an adult, she would go to open mike, but found herself timid performing in front of audiences. In Liberty Hill, she was among the first to perform at Dahlia Cafe and was encouraged to form a band — Teresa Garner’s Bluegrass Band that went to play throughout the region.

“To be able to perform and create something for an audience is pretty awesome,” she said. “It’s indescribable. I love to perform.”

Life, however, has pulled her away from her passion.

“I’d like to get back to music –performing, recording or just enjoying it on the side yard,” Mrs. Garner said. “I want it to be just like an old barn dance that the whole family can enjoy.”

Originally, the large rustic building constructed in 1987 that houses the restaurant, was a country store. Soon, picking around the potbelly stove became picking on the porch so folks could dance in the driveway out front. Ms. Garner said that it “took a life of its own” as a venue for music and dancing before closing to become the residence for her and her husband, Pete Garner.

“I always knew I wanted to have my own kitchen and my own stage,” she said.

In 2012, she opened a food trailer in Liberty Hill, followed it with a catering business, and continued her life-long involvement in supporting organizations and individuals alike with a host needs.

So appreciative, the community publicly recognized her on June 25, 2002 with a Williamson County proclamation of “Teresa Garner Day” for her unselfish giving to the community. Mrs. Garner was honored in a surprise celebration at Lions Foundation Park in Liberty Hill.

Through the years, she has continued helping those in need, but now focuses more on assisting veterans and the elderly by mowing their lawns, cleaning their homes or preparing meals for them.

The Stocktank is open Fridays from 4-9 p.m., Saturdays from 8 a.m.-9 p.m. and Sundays from 11 a.m.-2 p.m.

Catering services are available as is the venue for private events. For information, contact Teresa Garner at teresasdixiekitchen@yahoo.com.

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