By Jan White
CROCKETT – It all started with a road trip.
Marco Hayes, the new owner of historic Bear Hall, said that he was on a trip up from Houston looking for a retreat to escape the big city when he stopped to visit Crockett.
After spending the night, Hayes was cruising around town to get a feel for the place when he saw a house for sale that he thought would suit his needs, so he put a contract on it. Hayes says he purchased the home right before Covid hit, and since businesses were shutting down and he wasn’t working, he decided, as he put it, “…to hang out in Crockett for a few months.”
He recalls driving past Bear Hall on a regular basis, the “For Sale” sign in the window catching his eye. The building intrigued him, but at the time, he didn’t make a move toward a purchase. Then one day, the For Sale sign was replaced with “Contact Pending.” Although disappointed, Hayes listened to his instincts and called the realtor, asking her to let him know if the contract fell through. Five days later, he got a phone call. “And here we are,” Hayes said.
Hayes took possession of the property in November of 2021. Initially, the work involved a good cleaning because it had been empty for close to five years. Because it began as the home of an automotive repair shop, the building has some very unique features that history and antique buffs will appreciate.
As you walk up the slanted concrete drive that cars once used to enter the repair shop bay, you’ll notice that the Hayes rescued a set of doors from the old Crockett High School and repurposed them for his entryway. A sizeable, sunfilled room houses the antique billiard table and comfortable chairs that invite guests to lounge in comfort, and there’s a smaller room that Hayes hopes to renovate and use as a bride’s changing room or a small meeting room for more intimate gatherings.
The spacious hallway opens into a large area that can be rented as a venue for parties, celebrations, weddings, quinceaneras, or any other event you can imagine. Antique windows with squares of stained glass allow natural light to brighten the south side of the building. The stage, located in the left corner of the room, has hosted a couple of popular local bands and is sure to become a popular concert arena for future music events. But the biggest attraction in the room is definitely the massive saloon-style bar.
Bringing Bear Hall to life is a family project. Hayes convinced his brother and sister and their families to relocate to Crockett. “My sister bought the house next door to me. We all live close together.” Bear Hall’s companion, the Bear Hall Patio Diner, located on Camp Street, has become one of downtown Crockett’s hottest new food venues. The food truck, located off the patio, keeps the whole family busy. Hayes, who is no stranger to the food industry, offers a fun menu with a variety of food choices, from burgers and specialty sandwiches to salads to pita bread pizzas.
The patio also has a smaller stage, which Hayes hopes to utilize with acoustic performances for a more intimate experience.
Bear Hall held its grand opening on April 9 and has since enjoyed a steady influx of customers. This past weekend, the Hall hosted an evening of entertainment by singer/songwriter David Mills on Friday night, and local band, Rooftop Travelers on Saturday. For more information on upcoming events at Bear Hall, check out their Facebook page.