Located just off Hwy. 64 and FM 773 sits the small country town of Ben Wheeler, Texas.
This historic city was named after Benjamin Wheeler, a mail carrier assigned to deliver mail from Canton to Edom, Texas in 1876.
Ben Wheeler was a booming town in 1919, having an abundance of stores and commodities. After the war, the city began to see a decline. The city’s school closed in January of 1968. People moved away to seek schooling and jobs. Without these necessary customers, almost every store in Ben Wheeler was forced to close it’s doors.
Today downtown Ben Wheeler is identified by eight buildings, the earliest created around 1915 and the latest built around 1930. The largest building is Moore’s store, a 6,500 sq. ft. store opened in 1933 by J.J. Moore.
The Forge Bar and Grill inside of an antique blacksmith shop is one of the two venues in Ben Wheeler for food, music and a great time. The chairs, tables and bar are made of cedar and give a rustic feel. An antique blacksmith forge, for which the restaurant is named, sits by the front door. The walls are scattered with antiques, and from the ceiling hangs multiple antiques, along with a prominent piñata and an upside-down Christmas tree. Also featured on the walls are paintings of celebrities, including Jimi Hendrix, Johnny Cash and Elvis Presley. The entire building is surrounded by a wrap-around porch, with colorful Christmas lights strung across the sheet metal roof that covers the building and porch. On this porch, there are several tables available for outdoor seating. There is one small, main entrance, as well as two large garage doors that remain open. Upon entering, people are welcomed to select their own seat at one of the cedar booths or tables, or at the full cedar bar.
The friendly staff is helpful and informative. They offer a variety of food, including, but certainly not limited to, burgers, pizza, and sandwiches. The homemade pizza comes in two sizes, small or large, and comes with a choice of three toppings. Many specialty pizzas are also available.
The main event of the evenings is the live music played inside The Forge, with no cover charge. Every Saturday, local blues artist Craig Wallace croons to the audience from 3 to 6 p.m. Most Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights, this bistro features local Texas singers and songwriters who perform from 7 to 10 p.m.
Two of the featured artists are Ben Lowery and Wes Hendrix, a local country music duo that certainly draw a crowd. Their music gets people up off their chairs and onto the porch or any floor space that can be found to share a sweet Texas two-step.
It is recommended to arrive early when visiting the Wild Hog Capital of Texas. Parking spots and seats fill up fast. This small, old fashioned country town is a great stop to make good friends, eat good food, listen to good country music and just get away from the daily grind.