One of the wild things about the South by Southwest conference is the number of celebrities who show up in Austin.
By Charles Lohrmann
It’s the unofficial opening night of Willie’s Place at Carl’s Corner. There are no signs outside that identify the building, but the 550-seat theater is packed. The operation houses two restaurants, the convenience store, the Night Life Theater, and the Whiskey River Saloon. Even XM Radio has soundproofed a studio inside and is broadcasting Willie’s Place Channel 13 around the clock with Eddie Kilroy on the air every weekday morning.
The building is “more-or-less 35,000 feet of space, and at least two times larger than the original Carl’s Corner,” says Willie’s Place Chief Financial Officer Robert Strouse. “We’re hoping to have the pumps working by Labor Day.” Those pumps—12 of them, called master-satellite-high-flow diesel pumps—are designed to fill up both of an 18-wheeler’s fuel tanks at once. And Carl’s Corner will be known for pumping BioWillie biodiesel (as well as ethanol and the usual gasoline options at its regular pumps).
At a press conference on July 3, one writer asked Willie and Carl if the performance venue would be a problem for truckers trying to keep on schedule. Willie’s answer, “Well, it should be better than when Carl ran a strip joint here.” Hence the rogue spirit of the original rough-and-tumble Carl’s Corner will live on.