San Saba Plans Falling into Place
Over the past 5 years, San Saba has slowly become the envy of many of our neighboring towns. We are very fortunate to be blessed with beautiful natural resources thanks to the San Saba River, and the hard work over the years of many San Saba citizens to help develop our wonderful park system, including Mill Pond Park, Risien Park, and the San Saba River Nature Park. We are also very fortunate to have a collective desire to make our city something special, through groups like Keep San Saba Beautiful, and while many of our residents contribute to that goal every day in different ways, our focus today is going to be on the impact of Clay Nettleship.
San Saba Roots
Clay grew up in San Saba and graduated from San Saba High School. He attended Baylor University for both undergraduate work and law school. His law concentration was in estate planning and his legal career initially took him to San Antonio working in insurance defense. Soon after, he returned home to San Saba and started his own general legal practice. Today, Clay practices law with an interest in oil & gas for both mineral owners and operators. He is also an investor in oil & gas projects, as well as real estate. He is also actively involved in his family’s ranching operations. Other than being a great dad to his two daughters, his true passion may be the vision of making his hometown a Texas small-town destination.
A Sharp Focus on Revitalization
When Clay returned home from San Antonio, he had a dream for our community. After 20 years, Clay has played a critical role in so many projects that have helped make San Saba what it is today, and more importantly what it is yet to become. Initially, Clay’s efforts were part of a vision to restore existing buildings without compromising on keeping their history and character intact. Clay helped establish the San Saba County Community Foundation, which helped fund the preservation, restoration, and development of many buildings including The Estep-Burleson Building, The San Saba Garden Club, and The San Saba Visitor Center. These restoration projects were funded through donations at the Catkins Ball.
A Celebration of San Saba
The Catkins Ball is the biggest social event of the year in San Saba. It is a fundraiser created by the San Saba County Community Foundation, designed to raise funds to support restoration and building projects in San Saba, and give San Sabians an excuse to dress up and have a good time. The Catkins Ball is looked forward to every year, with an annual theme, the event is held in beautiful Risien Park, and gets bigger and better every year, with great entertainment ranging from fire dancers to fiddlers, incredible food, and most importantly, community.
Rebuilding Downtown One Business at a Time
Not only has Clay used donations to help improve our community, but he has invested in a number of projects and building restorations with others to encourage economic development and growth including Harry’s Boots, J.C. Campbell Mercantile & Co, Oliver & Co., and Madeleine & Me (now known as The Pantry). Not to mention the Dofflemyer Hotel, and the Pecan House Grill. Each of these projects has brought new life to our downtown. He has generously given personal funds which were lacking for completing paver-filled city sidewalks and he also donated to the City of San Saba, his interest in the Visitor Center building. One step at a time, Clay is doing more than his share to create a downtown that is closer each year to that vision he had in 1995.
The Importance of the Outdoors
Clay’s vision for San Saba was not just about buildings and businesses. He became a Board Member of the Lower Colorado River Authority (LCRA). Appointed by then-Governor Perry in 2004, Clay served in a variety of roles that led to him playing an instrumental role in establishing an LCRA park in San Saba. The San Saba River Nature Park serves our community as a great attraction for family fun, natural sightseeing, offers an excellent walking/biking trail, a great place for fishing, a historic swimming “blue” hole, and a boy scout recreational camp location.
Heads in Beds
The truth is a lot of people don’t know all of this about Clay. It is probably the Dofflemyer Hotel, opened in 2015, that people have most associated with Clay’s efforts over the years. The Dofflemyer Hotel was a key step in creating a place people would want to visit and spend the night. A boutique hotel concept with just a handful of rooms, but designed to go toe-to-toe with the best boutique hotels in San Antonio or Austin. The building was first constructed in 1913 by W.C. Dofflemyer as the San Saba National Bank. The renovation and restoration brought recognition as one of the Ten Best New Texas Hotels, because The Dofflemyer Hotel is unique to the Texas Hill Country providing a blend of past and present, and ultimately comfort!
Following the success of the Dofflemyer Hotel, Clay began work on his next project, The Pecan House Grill. Imagined to be an upscale restaurant with a rooftop bar, Clay imagined a destination dining experience that would be another step toward his vision of San Saba’s future. Opening in 2020, Pecan House Grill has proven to be more than just a local hidden gem. It has become a destination dining experience drawing people from all over the region. Why? Let’s start with the menu. Pecan House Grill has a wide-ranging menu that caters to everyone from steak lovers, serving 44 Farms all-natural Angus beef, amazing house specialties like Texas Antelope Medallions, to seafood fans with the Gulf Red Snapper. It’s also a beautifully restored building with stone walls, wooden floors, and beautiful lighting that creates an atmosphere that is perfect for special occasions. On the second floor, The Papershell Bar has a wide range of Texas beers on tap, as well as an extensive wine menu, and unique craft cocktails, like the Augustus McCrae. You cannot find another restaurant like this in the Central Texas region!
The Nettleship Vision
San Saba is fortunate to have Clay and the focus he has on our community’s future. While many leave small towns like San Saba only to return for family events and special occasions, Clay has made San Saba his home, returning to complete a vision imagined years ago. His time, effort, and generosity with his resources have benefitted each and everyone in San Saba in some meaningful way and we anticipate that continuing well into the future.
We are also excited to note that Pecan House Grill has been nominated by The Texas Downtown Association, an independent, statewide, membership organization representing cities and towns, economic development corporations, nonprofits, businesses & individuals, as a finalist for Best Downtown Business Under 50k population. The winners will be recognized on November 4th at the Texas Downtown Conference in Denton, Texas!
We drove from San Angelo to San Saba for lunch a few months ago. The food at the Pecan House Grill is worth the road trip. Outstanding!!!
Looking forward to visiting San Saba at the end of the month and dining at Pecan House Grill. Awesome to see the contribution Clay and others have made to growing San Saba into a destination for dining, sights and attractions.
Such wonderful improvements to our little hometown.
Just spent a long weekend in San Saba–walked around the downtown area and wish I had read this article before going. Went into a couple shops and wondered what was going on. Hats off to Mr. Clay for giving back to his childhood hometown that seemed to have lost hope like most small towns. We travel Texas a lot and it is always sad to me that our small towns have lost their roots. Will check out more the next time we visit there. We hope to stay in our rv at the city park next to the golf course.