Texas roadside distraction: Cartoon Saloon becomes the craziest attraction in the Hill Country
Cartoon Saloon: From Texas Independence Day Idea to a Quirky Roadside Attraction
Comfort, Texas – Five years ago, JP Rankin and his friends were pondering over what to do for Texas Independence Day. A beer can hanging tradition they’d upheld during Christmas suggested a novel idea – building a saloon. And thus, The Cartoon Saloon came into existence at 508 FM 473, Comfort, Texas.
Rankin, a 58-year-old cartoonist and independent insurance agent, owns the land where they built the saloon, offering a sit-a-spell experience with beer, hot dogs, and great music. The building’s western facade features wooden benches and stools at the concrete and bottle bar. The Cartoon Saloon isn’t a regular bar but a roadside attraction that entices visitors from all over the world.
The quirky saloon has a horse stand, a bra-wearing deer, beer cans, and dollar bills with visitor mementos on walls. The interiors also feature most of JP Rankin’s for-sale cartoon caricatures, primarily cowboy and bar-related, in addition to offbeat material that defies cataloguing. France, Canada, and other US citizens visit the site, with many bikers, cyclists, and tourists frequenting the establishment.
Next to the Cartoon Saloon is Sal Men Nello’s Cafe, with a facade adorned by a bloodshot-eyed bovine. As an extension of the saloon’s allure, the cafe features a creative name that fits within the establishment’s inventiveness. The property also includes a Gallery that houses most of Rankin’s cartoons for sale that are purely cowboy and bar-based.
Despite being accessible 24/7, guests can make a donation to keep the solar-powered lights on at night. Even the saloon doors have occasionally disappeared from the premises, adding to the eclectic charm of the place. However, Rankin emphasises that financial gain isn’t a goal as he and his friends wanted to create a place that combined caricature, community, and humour, never forgetting the cartoons they loved, such as Bugs Bunny and Popeye.
The loosely constructed establishment is a testament to the creative exuberance of the friends who built it. While Denmark, mayor of the fictional city, and Rankin, the Justice of the Peace, manage the property, another friend named “Biscuit” wrote and performed their official Looney tune as the deputy, adding to the spontaneity of the place.
The fifth-generation Texan claims it has had nearly 25,000 visitors, and with an expansion in the works soon, it aims to become something more than just a roadside attraction. The plan is to create a place where people could drop off non-perishable food items for the community and where needy families can stop by to receive food. The Cartoon Saloon embraces the spirit of Texans, who are always eager to showcase what they’ve built, welcoming visitors to experience it.
Content and Photo credit go to Texas Standard
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