Curtain Falls On Willie's Place

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CARL'S CORNER (January 25, 2011)-- The owners of Willie's Place, named after legendary country singer and Abbott native Willie Nelson, say they'll close for business on Jan. 31.

"You look back and you go well if I'd done this, if I'd done that it could have been different, but we had three years for a lot of fun." co-owner Steve Gilcrease said Tuesday evening.

The gas station and entertainment complex, situated on 15 acres off of I-35 in Carl's Corner opened with great fanfare.

It features a gas station and truck stop, convenience store, restaurant, theater, and saloon.

The owners said the problems started when they couldn't find a bank to help them refinance a loan, estimated to be the the $5 to $6 million range.

"You couldn't pay it, virtually impossible, we tried to negotiate it down, everything fell through." Gilcrease said.

Then in May 2010, an attorney for a New Jersey based lender said he had filed a foreclosure suit against WN Truck Stop Incorporated, LLC, Willie Nelson's Truck Stop, the company that runs Willie's Place.

According to the Hill County Clerk's Office, the foreclosure suit was filed on April 12, 2010.

Michael Massey, a Houston attorney, says the truck stop had been in default of its loan, and the lender instructed him to file the foreclosure suit.

Gilcrease said faced with no other options, the owners decided to file for bankruptcy.

According to Gilcrease, in recent weeks a Judge in Dallas handed Willie's Place off to a new company, which will take over on Feb. 1.

"Makes you want to shed a tear to walk in there and look at it." Gilcrease said.

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