The actual building of the Stagecoach Inn was first constructed by W.B. Armstrong, in 1961. The inn was first called Shady Villa Hotel. Located in Salado, Texas, the Shady Villa Hotel was a popular stopping point for migrants traveling up and down Texas, during the 1860s. By 1943, the Van Bibbers renovated the hotel, and changed the name to the Stagecoach Inn. The Stagecoach Inn became a renowned restaurant and was featured in Life Magazine, as well as others. The Stagecoach Inn is the oldest continuously operating hotel in Texas. In more recent years, the Stagecoach Inn is undergoing several renovation. The restaurant was remodeled, and reopened in 2016, but the hotel is still in the process of changes.
The Stagecoach Inn was built in Salado, Texas. The city of Salado
is located between Waco and Austin, Texas. The town is one of the earliest
settlements in Texas. Salado was named by Spanish explorers. When naming the
town, they were referring to the mineral waters. The word salado is a Spanish word
meaning salty. By 1859, Salado was developed into a town. This included the
establishment of Salado College in 1860, as well as the Institute for the
Humanities at Salado. Between 1860 and 1890, the town of Salado was a place
where several travelers would pass through. The Stagecoach Inn was first called
the Shady Villa Hotel. The hotel was constructed in 1861, by W. B. Armstrong. Many
well-known people of the time, stay in the hotel. This included many American soldiers
such as Sam Houston, Robert E. Lee, and George Custer. The hotel hosted
Shanghai Pierce, a Texas rancher. The hotel also hosted Sam Bass and Jesse
James who were outlaws.
In 1943, a couple, Dion and Ruth Van Bibber, remodeled the
Shady Villa Hotel and reopened it as the Stagecoach Inn. This inn followed the frontier
customs. The waitresses recited the daily menu, just as the frontier women
would have when they greeted travelers. Ruth Van Bibber produced and prepared
the recipes in the Stagecoach Inn, while Dion Van Bibber hosted. The Stagecoach
Inn’s menu consisted of hush puppies, tomato aspic, banana fritters, and
Strawberry Kiss. The Stagecoach Inn was featured in Life Magazine, on July 1st
1957, Ford Times, on May 15, 1963, and TIME, on September 23, 1966. The inn was
one of the most famous highway restaurants in the country. The inn was also
featured on Duncan Hines list of select restaurants.
In 2015, project developers, Clark Lyda, Austin Pfiester, and David Hays, partnered with La Corsha
Hospitality Group to begin restoring the historic property. There were two
phases developed for the process of restoring the Stagecoach Inn. The first
phase was the restoration of the Stagecoach Inn restaurant and meeting space
along Main Street. Rebuilding the brand and the reputation of the restaurant
was also included in phase one. Phase two focused on renovating and reopening
the hotel. They also wanted to expand the hotel. In the process of expanding, there
would be 120 hotel rooms and 10,000 feet of meeting space. Lyda and the other
developers also planned to move the entrance and reception area to Main Street.
Phase two included adding more landscaping, outdoor event space, a new mineral
pool and spa. The last addition in phase two was to connect the Stagecoach Inn
grounds to the Salado Creek, and to the villages trail system. Renovations to
the restaurant did not begin until June, 2016. On June 14, 2017, the Stagecoach
Inn restaurant opened back up. The guest rooms, extended meeting space, and
event spaces of the Stagecoach Inn will reopen spring 2018.