Thursday, May 29, 2008

Dalhart Superstar

I arrived in Dalhart, TX, one day last week to find most of it blowing east toward Oklahoma. Not perhaps the most brilliant introduction to a Northwest Texas town best known as the center of the 1930s’ Dust Bowl. That’s sure easy to understand, though; the west wind is driving the topsoil across the road as far as the eye could see.

Since I was driving north of US 87 from Amarillo, there wasn’t much choice about where Barbara and I were headed and there wasn’t any mistake when we arrived: Another middle-of-the-hinterlands town that was not looking like a jewel this past week.

(You may recall news of a wide band of “killer” tornadoes stretching from that part of Texas all the way up to Minnesota.)

It’s something of a boom town again, with the price of oil so high and plenty of activity in the ‘patch. You can poke around here to find out more about the various area attractions, such as the XIT Ranch Museum, Palo Duro Canyon or the Veterans Park on 7th Street – not as pretty last week as this post’s photo.

Really, I did not see Dalhart at its best.

What I did see, as I guided the Prius north along the windy street, was a tiny little building on the corner of the highway and Peach Avenue called Superstar Coffee Company: As far as I could tell, the only place between Amarillo and maybe Trinidad, CO, where I could get a decent cup of fresh coffee.

No Starbucks but a good attempt in the back of beyond, Lisa Silacci and her family moved to the Dalhart area last year on other business and she decided to open this coffee shop to catch the traffic passing up and down US 87 (called “Railroad Street”) in front of the grain elevators.

She and her family are from the great Northwest where there’s a coffee shop on every corner and she says Dalhart needed one of these – it looks like she’s going to educate every rancher and oilfield hand on decent coffee one cup at a time.

I don’t know the whole story (and I didn’t have the camera as usual so there’s no photograph of the tiny drive-through outbuilding that Lisa and her husband Gary are using for Superstar). So I’m going to ask Lisa to send me a photo for another blog post a bit later on. I’m here to tell you, though, that the entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well in that corner of US 87 and Peach – and by golly, she’s a member of the Dalhart Chamber of Commerce to prove it.

WOM: Next time you’re passing through Dalhart, “The XIT City,” stop off at the Superstar Coffee Company for a fresh cup of joe. Lisa’s got all the modern conveniences, flavors, even a buy-10-get-1-free card which she will initial for you instead of stamping or punching (Superstar isn’t that advanced yet).

There’ll be no inside seating for a while but you can drive yourself right up to the window and talk with Lisa her own self. And say hello for me. Just tell her I’m the guy passing through in the Prius. Okay?

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