Perhaps the best lessons Brett Berry learned while attending Texas State University in San Marcos were not taught in a classroom but through the jobs he worked.
Brett, a 2007 graduate of Tolar High School, learned about the bartending industry.
He used that knowledge to open a fresh air venue in Austin called Armadillo Den. It has been a hit.
Armadillo Den is a place to enjoy beer, cocktails and food truck fare while listening to live music in a spacious backyard setting.
Meanwhile, Brett’s parents, Steve and Joni Berry, opened their own outdoor venue in Granbury: Warren’s Backyard, located at 2901 Weatherford Highway near their own home and close to Abe’s Landing. Since it opened in October 2015, it has been a spot for outdoor weddings and other special events.
Brett, now 33, would help out there when he came home to visit.
The wedding and special events venue opened six and a half years and one pandemic ago. It’s been great, but Steve and Joni are ready to hang it up.
“Joni is tired, and we are ready to turn the reins over,” Steve said.
A former county commissioner for Precinct 4, Steve, now a realtor, thought about putting the property on the market.
But Brett had a different idea.
Why not bring the Armadillo Den concept to Granbury, a city that is becoming known for live music venues?
In Brett’s view, taking over Warren’s Backyard would offer Hood County a perfect outdoor music spot. It’s three to four acres and has a big stage, a barn-turned-bar, round tables with chairs as well as picnic tables, parking and beautiful, lighted oak trees to give shade and add ambiance.
And when a band isn’t booked, it could still be a great bar hangout.
Brett asked his parents if he could lease the property from them.
“I was outvoted 2-1,” Steve joked.
Brett has big dreams for the new Warren’s Backyard, but his business plan is uncomplicated: Keep it simple, stupid.
He feels that beer, food trucks, games, quality live music and fresh air make a recipe for success.
The revamped Warren’s Backyard will eventually be open seven days a week, but for now it is open five days a week, Wednesday to Sunday. A grand opening event is planned for Saturday, Aug. 27 — the birthday of the beloved former neighbor for whom the venue is named.
Hours are 4 p.m. to midnight Wednesday-Friday, 1 p.m. to 1 a.m. Saturday, and 2 p.m. to midnight Sunday.
There is no cover charge. Brett hopes that local businesses will be willing to sponsor bands.
“We are so excited to have Warren’s Backyard here to help bring music lovers together,” said Tammy Dooley, director of Visit Granbury. “We are working with them to also be the provider of our signature drink, Two Shots Fired.”
Specific details about the new Warren’s Backyard are still being worked out, but there are family-friendly hours and over-21 hours. Kids are welcome until 8 p.m. After that, it’s adult time.
“Right now, we’re in what we call ‘soft opening mode,’ where we’re really trying to see what the community wants,” Brett said. He stated that the soft opening is intended to get the community “acclimated” to the changes.
“I just ask everybody to bear with us,” he said. “Nothing’s final. Things can change all the time.”
He encouraged people to monitor Warren’s Backyard on Facebook and Instagram for evolving details. A new website for the venue is expected to be operational soon.
As for food, Brett said, “We have a food truck right now that’s serving smash burgers and fries, and they’ve been a big hit.”
He said he hopes to bring more food trucks in to offer a variety of tasty fare.
Warren’s Backyard also features Chicken Sh*t Bingo (that’s Brett’s spelling for a family friendly newspaper) sponsored by the local Parkinson’s Chicken Farm. He said that the farm will sell fresh eggs and “humanely raised” chicken on site on Wednesday nights.
FOOD, FUN, FRIENDS
The property, including the 1890s-era barn and farmhouse, was once owned by Steve and Joni’s neighbors, Warren and Dee White. The Whites are now deceased.
Steve met Warren at a golf tournament, and they hit it off. He discovered that Warren had been friends with his grandparents and his father, who also served as a county commissioner. The Berry family has a long history in Hood County.
Many times, the Berrys and the Whites sat in Warren’s backyard and visited for hours.
The Whites eventually moved into a nursing facility. Brett said that Warren wanted to give his property to Steve and Joni, but they insisted on buying it instead.
Warren’s Backyard will continue to be a gathering place for friends and family under the supervision of Brett and Jeremy Newberry, his friend since fourth grade and trusted operating partner. Jeremy operates the day-to-day business while Brett splits his time between Granbury and Austin.
Brett said he wants the new version of Warren’s Backyard to be “where you come out here, listen to music, grab some food and hang out under a tree with all your buddies.”
After all, hanging out under a tree with buddies was where it all began, back when Warren was alive.