Sorry, you need to enable JavaScript to visit this website.

Left, patrons at the Gray Horse Saloon in the Crestwood Center step up to the bar for one last time Friday. The legendary gathering spot closed officially Saturday. Below, middle, the logo on the wall reminds customers of the long history associated with the name of the establishment. Below, bottom, bar owner Michael Muehe shares a moment to reminisce with long time friend and colleague, Jack Diaz.
Daily Record photos by Barbara Audet


Top, the action in the Gray Horse Saloon on Friday included conversation, reduced price drinks and numerous games of pool. Middle, Will Stallings lines up one of the last pool shots to be taken at the bar. Stallings works next door at Three Six General, one of the Crestwood Center businesses still open pending a possible water service cutoff on March 31.
Daily Record photos by Barbara Audet



Sunday, March 19, 2023

Gray Horse Saloon closes after 15 years, others at Crestwood continue on

The chill in the March air outside was not all that was bringing patrons inside the Gray Horse Saloon in the Crestwood Center on Friday, St. Patrick’s Day.

As opposed to years past, this time, the warmth found just inside the door was generated by the sincere outpouring of well wishers coming to say goodbye.

Considering the holiday and the kind of revelry it often inspires around the world, this night the level of noise was pleasant, the sounds of pool games underway, the steady flow of conversations across the inside of the bar’s nooks and tables, and the soundless display of March Madness basketball displayed on TV screens high above the customers. There was a bit of Irish green in the form of shamrock garlands draped on the oh so Texas antlers on the wall and light fixtures.

Kim Barnes and her husband, Michael Muehe, owners of the Gray Horse, had announced earlier this week that the establishment would close officially Saturday. This St. Patrick’s Day would be the last for the business that was opened in October 2007.

Though they are still holding out hope of a potential reopening should the utilities be fixed.

Barnes and Muehe came outside briefly to talk about the special evening but said they did not want to concentrate on the details of the closure that made this last night necessary.

For 15 years and five months, the saloon has been their passion. Barnes said she moved to the area after her college years at Southwest Texas, now Texas State University, and over the years, she has been part of other restaurant ventures. But the Gray Horse Saloon is unique, she explained, adding that for those interested, its history is intertwined with the history of San Marcos.

“It’s a massive reunion,” she said, gazing back though the door at the crowd inside. “These are my people.” Sitting on a bench close to them, loyal customer and friend, Eloy Galan said, “I’m a regular here and I love it. Hopefully it will get reopened.”

There are older people here, Galan said, because in his view, this is a place where “everybody is everybody”— in other words, everyone is equal and accepted.

Jack Diaz, of Tamales Kingz, said, “ Everyone is showing love tonight.” He said he has worked professionally with Barnes and Muehe for years.

”This used to be our watering hole,” Diaz said. For him, coming to the Old Ranch Road 12 location is even a family affair as his mom and uncle often came to the same building to go to another club that was there long before the Gray Horse Saloon.

The interior of the saloon this night provided for a near business-as-usual experience though. The bathrooms still sported signs for “Fillies” and “Stallions” with portraits of John Wayne and Clint Eastwood keeping an eye on those heading in. On those TV screens, the March Madness of a different sort was heralded: Montana State was playing basketball against Kansas State in the annual NCAA tournament.

Some people were playing pool, others were eating and drinking, but a relaxed kind, with glasses staying fuller longer as customers, out in force, had more to say than imbibe.

At the pool table, Daniel Britsch said, “I got here in 2005. I remember when it opened. It used to be a lot darker and smokier.” Smoky or bright, he said he is going to miss it.

Another man standing close to the bar said, “The only constant is change,” a sentiment many there were not willing to embrace.

Will Stallings, 22, an employee of the neighbor business, Three Six General, stopped his pool game long enough to say he has worked there for six months as a full-time employee, and is looking for his next job if no change is made in the water cutoff date of March 31.

Barnes did draw attention to the notice posted on the outside of the building that offered hers and Muehe’s explanation for the closure.

It stated, “The Gray Horse Saloon has closed for business effective Saturday, 3/18/2023 due to unresolved septic/wastewater issues. While the City of San Marcos has issued an extension on water shutoff until 3/31/2023 that’s not an indicator of long term resolution and we have already lost staff and liquidated inventory so it is too late for us to pivot and remain open at this time.”

Barnes and Muehe also asked that customers used to coming to the Gray Horse Saloon make a strong effort to frequent the other neighborhood businesses at the Crestwood Center.

The notice on the door further stated, “We sincerely hope that the parties involved are able to reach a permanent solution to this problem. …. Horseflies forever.”

Barnes emphasized her support of both city and county officials, saying each had gone above and beyond trying to assist the businesses located at Crestwood Center.

If the closure is permanent, she said these officials will be as heartbroken as the rest of them.

“We’re humbled by the support,” she said.

For those interested in keeping up with the owners now, she said to follow the saloon on social media for further updates.

San Marcos Record

(512) 392-2458
P.O. Box 1109, San Marcos, TX 78666