Mel’s Lone Star Lanes: Comfy chairs, sports bar and shuffle board…at a bowling alley?

Mel’s Lone Star Lanes in Georgetown Texas

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Yeah, not your typical bowling alley, Mel’s Lone Star Lanes in Georgetown, Texas is probably the nicest bowling alley I’ve ever been too.  And I’ve been to a lot!

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I went here last week to spend some family time and we had a blast.  We took along our friend Claire and we paid for an hours worth of bowling.  If I had to do it over again, I might have chosen to just pay per game since we took so long to bowl with 4 kids!  Anyway, keep that in mind when you come here:  Paying hourly is great if you’re going to be bowling some quick games, but if you have the kiddos, you might want to opt for the pay-per-game option. They have a large selection of balls so your 5 year old won’t be stuck with a 12 pounder, and the shoes here are all pretty new since this place just opened.  I brought my own shoes though, since I’m cool.

Unlike many old-school bowling alleys, you don’t have to stick some cumbersome object into the lanes, but rather the rampbumpers come out automatically depending on how you set up the system.  This is nice, because you can have an adult bowl, without the bumpers, and then right before a small child bowls, the bumpers can automatically extend outward. They also give you this ramp that the kids can just stick the ball on and push it down into the alley. This helps the kids get better results and is much more productive then watching a 6 lb. bowling ball slowly (and painfully) creep down the alley until it stops in the middle and you have to call a service guy to fetch it.  Go for the ramp, that way your 18 month old can bowl, like my daughter Sabrina in the picture:)

Another nice feature here is the service.  You can order your food/drinks without having to stand in line.  Just push the service button and a waiter comes out and takes your order.  Every time we come here, we usually get the sweet potato fries.  They come out hot and tasty!  They have the usual bowling alley fare:  pizza, sandwiches and salads and some other stuff.

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After our game, we walked through the sports bar, CJ’sgirls, and played a game of shuffleboard.  They have two shuffleboard tables and some pool tables too.  They also have an arcade on the other side of the bowling alley for the kiddos.  I like bowling at CJ’s because they’ve replaced the hard bowling alley seats, that we’re all used to, and instead there are some nice couches!  If you’ve ever wanted to know what it would be like to have a bowling alley in your home, this is it!  There are also more big screen flat panel TV’s in this bowling alley then Circuit City!  How relaxing is it to watch TV, check on your bowling score and munch on your sweet potato fries all from the same spot?

If you’re looking for something to do in the city of Georgetown, Texas, check out Mel’s Lone Star Lanes and put down those nunchuck controllers from your Nintendo Wii bowling game.  The crashing sound of the bowling ball with the pins just doesn’t sound the same from your television!  Speaking of video games, sometimes we take the kids here just for the arcade to kill some time:)  This place is clean and it’s never really been too crowded when we come here.  tvsCheck it out for yourself and let me know what your experience is!  I love reader interaction on this blog so please comment below!

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Louies 106 – My Autumn’s Day Experience

This post is a little late, but it’s a restaurant review nonetheless.

Autumn and I don’t celebrate Valentine’s Day anymore, we celebrate Autumn’s Day which is the day before.  Awww, how romantic I know.  However, as we were driving into Austin to celebrate a day early there was a TON of traffic heading into the city at the same time!  Hmm, looks like the rest of the world has their own “Autumn’s Day.”

This year we decided to double date with our good friends David and Melissa and we headed down to Louie’s 106.

Here are the two happy couples:

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David and Melissa have two children, Claire and Jonah, and they play well with our three kids:  Joshua, Chloe and Sabrina.  We’re just happy to be friends with ANYONE who has kids that will play with ours:)  But Claire is the best when it comes to watching Chloe and Joshua so that Autumn can have a sane moment during the day.    What would we do without her?!dsc_4917

Back to the food: We tried the crispy calamari with red pepper rouille and roasted garlic aioli (not pictured), Prince Edward Island Mussels and House made mesquite smoked salmon for appetizers.

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For our main course, we ordered The original Baby Louie’s Hot and Crunchy Trout, some meat dish (my memory is fading fast), and creme brulee for dessert:

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Notice that somebody (ahem, Autumn), couldn’t wait for me to take a picture before diving into the dessert!  This was a fun place to go and the presentation, as you can tell from the pictures, was very nice.  The Prince Edward Island Mussels were my favorite as they reminded me of our honeymoon when we went to Prince Edward Island and had these for the very first time.

This is another great Austin restaurant located in the heart of downtown.  They have valet parking and accept resrvations!  My only gripe?  Well, I made reservations and indicated that it was also for the celebration of David and Melissa’s anniversary (which it was) and I was hoping they would have given us a free dessert or at least mentioned it to them.  Nothing happened…maybe it was because we had already ordered dessert or maybe because it was super busy that night.  Nonetheless, great food at decent prices.  Check it out and let me know what you think!  Have you been here before?  I love reader interaction, please comment!

Family Movie Night – The theology of “Wanted”

I love free things.

We have one of those Redbox kiosks at our local Walmart and if you sign up online you can actually get a text message every monday for a free movie!  So that’s sort of been my cheap family tradition that the kids look forward to every Monday.  They usually get a kid’s movie and then I rent one for myself.

This time, the kids got this frog cartoon movie and I got a movie called:  Wantedwanted_film_poster

“Wanted” is about a guy stuck in his boring account manager job and finds out that his true calling is to be an assassin.   So, naturally, he begins his “training” by getting the snot beat out of him until he can answer the question, “Why are you here?” He finally gets it right and says, “Because I don’t know who I am.” and that’s when he really gets serious about his training.  He needed to come to a place where who he was or thought he was really didn’t matter, as much as who he was destined to be:  A kick-butt assassin like his daddy!

I was learning in Sunday School this week that when Adam and Eve ate the fruit from the tree that God forbade them to eat, they suddenly were self-aware.  They realized they were naked, not just externally, but internally as well.  They lost their innocence and became focused on themselves.  Since then, the pattern has never changed.  The more aware of ourselves we are, the more that it’s “all about us” and the more selfish we become; the more we fall short of what God destines us to be. Like the old hymn, we need to “turn our eyes upon Jesus” and get them off ourselves.

Like graduating from a boring account manager position and into the exciting life of an assassin, we will never realize our true calling until we can answer the question, “Why are you here?” with an answer that speaks less of what we want out of life and more so of what God wants.  When we give up our right to ourselves and decide to wholeheartedly become  a follower of Jesus Christ we realize our true potential.  Why?  Because Jesus is the originator and giver of life.

He was in the beginning with God.  All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.  In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. – John 1:2-4

It’s foolish to think we can live a full life, without the Originator of Life.  It’s time to graduate.
CLICK HERE to watch a preview of “Wanted”….I’m featured on it towards the end!

Restaurant on the Georgetown square – Wildfire

It seems like restaurants in Georgetown go out of business just as quickly as new ones pop up. I just thought I noticed Stone Canyon Cafe disappeared and one of the restaurants I reviewed on this blog, Chantal’s, is also gone. What a shame. Chantal’s was good.

Well, here’s one that has been around for awhile and is located on the historic square in Georgetown, TX:

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My wife and I took an afternoon lunch date and ordered the following:

Hickory Smoked Pork Roast, Red Eye Gravy
Red Bliss Mash Potatoes, Pearl Onions & Baby Carrots

Maple Leaf Duck-Spinach Salad
Hot Applewood-smoked bacon dressing

The pork was a bit dry, but the overall dish had a good smokey flavor. The duck was tender and salad tasted good. Autumn and I thought that the serving was a little small and hoped they would have crisped up the duck a bit more. For an entree the salad seemed to be sized more like a side dish. We were still hungry so we downed about 4 of their dinner rolls, which by the way, are served warm with a generous side dish of butter.

wildfire_exterior_twilightThe nice thing we noticed is that they finally renovated the nasty old ceiling. It used to be white and moldy looking, and now it’s a nice elegant maroon color. The setting in this restaurant is nice, not too expensive (lunch came to about $20) and ideally located downtown so you can walk off that side dish of butter that comes with your rolls.

So, if you want to meet a local real estate agent to talk about buying and selling, this could be a good place for lunch (hint, hint). Since I added that plug about real estate and talked about my experience, I guess that lunch with Autumn is a write-off right?

So, have you been here? What’s your favorite dish? This blog is boring without reader interaction, I value your comments! Want the latest updates on Georgetown Texas Real Estate, news and latest developments? Sign up for the blog by clicking the link below:

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Best steak in Georgetown, Texas

…is unfortunately 30 minutes south (in Austin).

I celebrated my 6th anniversary with my wife, Autumn, on January 4th.  So we dropped off the kids at a friend’s home and headed off to Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse.  I’ve been here a couple of times and this is my all-time favorite steak place.  What doesn’t make sense to me is that although the stock price has been going down, the prices have been going up on the menu. Go figure.

Rather then order two steaks and clog up our arteries, my wife and I usually split a steak and then we buy a side item or two.

dsc_4277We started off with the Oysters Rockefeller, which looked like it was topped with the same type of creamed spinach that they serve as an appetizer.  Not too creative in my book, but it sure tasted good!  We then tried a Ruth’s Chris chopped salad next and decided to split it.  Good thing we did, because both of our portions were humongous!  If we had to do it over again, we would ask them to bring the salad out with the steak.  The salad almost looked too good to eat, but that lasted about 2 seconds before I stuck my fork into those beautiful greens and started gobbling it up like a rabbit that is about to have his last meal.  Don’t ask me what those green dots were or how they tasted, I’m not that kind of food critic.  All I know is, it was crunchy, tasty and to balance out the meat, make sure to have them bring both out together.

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Our next course was an overdose of meat.  As usual, the restaurant cooked it up to perfection.  After 1600 degrees in an oven and served to you on a 400 degree plate, you wonder how they can keep medium-rare so perfect.  Yet they did it again.  My ribeye was sizzling up a tune when it arrived at our table and the waitress split it on two plates since we were sharing.  That was a nice gesture.  The worst type of steak you can get is a lukewarm one.  I love a steak that is hot.  How many times have you had to blow on a steak to eat it because it was that hot?  Exactly.

We also paid $8 for glorified potato chips that were supposed to be “shoestring potatoes” according to the menu.  It was worth it, since we brought it home and the kids loved it for lunch the next day.  Ok, I admit it, I loved it too.  If you have a special occassion, be sure to tell the restaurant about it and usually you’ll get a free dessert.  Autumn was wondering whether they would or not and I told her that most definitely they would hook us up.  She asked me, “how can you be so sure?”  And I told her, well, I asked them for a free steak, and they already told me “Sorry, nice try, but we’ll get you a dessert.”  So, my shameless Realtor negotiating technique was to ask for the bigger item and settle for what I really wanted.

So, here’s the freebie in all it’s glory:

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Dang, this looks so good that I didn’t even feel like I should shrink the image.  That would just not be right.  Chocolate molten cake with fancy caramel and ice cream on top.  I’ll let the picture describe itself.  Usually we go for the Creme Brulee which is done very well here.  However, we were both so stuffed that we wanted something to bring back home for the kids and could be enjoyed as a leftover.  Are we great parents or what?

Hopefully, the restaurants in Georgetown, Texas will slowly improve and one day there will be a steak worth eating.  I’ve never tried the Montana Mike’s but I don’t have a good feeling about it.  For now, take the 30 minute drive to 6th street, order up a medium-rare ribeye that is perfectly marbled and sizzling at the table and enjoy.  Total bill was around $90 with tip.

“Read this Blog and then give Tametria B. a promotion…”

…she seems to be the only one giving me any confidence in purchasing from your company in the future.  Her extension is 2009.  Please forward this email to her.”

Does that sound a bit harsh?

That was the content of the email I sent a supervisor of letstalk.com recently.

I recently became a free agent in the cell phone world and decided to go with Sprint and eliminate all of my nit picky overage charges from verizon.  I have 3000 minutes and my cell phone bill was still over $300 last month for overage charges!  That was reason enough to switch.  So I got some pretty cool phones:

This one is mine:

This one is for my wife:

The hassle with ordering from letstalk.com was enough to make me want to pay $50 more and go through a Sprint store.  But, I chickened out since I was so close to finishing this order and I have a busy week.

The ordering process was pretty smooth, and Heather did a great job with the order-taking part, but lacked some follow-through.  I kept getting these ridiculous emails to call Sprint and verify my credit information before my order could be processed.  So I did that….THREE SEPARATE TIMES!  Every time I called, Sprint would tell me that my credit decision was approved.

I thought Heather was banking it big from my big order and she would return my call…..she didn’t.

I then tried the website’s “fill out this form and we’ll call you back” feature and…they didn’t.

So tonight I called again, asked to speak to a supervisor, and there was none to talk to (they were all busy).

Finally, I got a hold of Tametria and after 3 attempts to Sprint Credit, and 3 attempts with letstalk.com, she took care of business.  All it took was for her to call Sprint Credit and verify that I was approved.  So all of the emails and instructions for me to call Sprint Credit was a big waste of my time!

Thanks Tametria, for allowing me to move forward with my life.  Thank you for taking the time to listen to me and do a little extra work (like the credit verification phone call) that completed my order.  You deserve a raise.

So was my email harsh?  Well, I figure a letter that might potentially benefit somebody like Tametria is much better than a letter that is filled with complaints.  So there you go letstalk.com, please train your people and please give a bonus to Tametria.

This just underscores how important it is for me to listen to my clients and not just go after the sale.  With 10,000+ real estate agents in Greater Austin, doing that alone will differentiate me from the crowd.

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Where to get cajun food in Round Rock, Texas

Yes, it’s that rare moment in the Lui household where we all go out to eat…and I actually get pictures…and I actually blog about it. I’ve been meaning to talk about this place because it’s one of my favoriteS.

Welcome to Gumbo’s, a cajun-style restaurant that doesn’t overdo the spicy stuff!

The special occasion was that it was Autumn’s Birthday, she turned 32 on September 4th so we went out and ate here. First – the non-food related observations:

I called the restaurant before it opened and left a message for my reservations. I asked for a return call and never got it and so I had to call again. A small annoyance, but one that I remember nonetheless. Second, is the website. I went to www.gumbosroundrock.com and registered to be a a “VIP member” of the VIP club. Ok, I’m not sure what that means either, except that I’m supposed to get a free gift via e-mail and I still don’t have it. I was hoping to get a “percent off” coupon so I could use on my meal. And no, that’s not being cheap, thats good stewardship baby!

The bread at this place rocks. It comes with seasoned butter and right off the bat I asked for another piece of bread with butter. I could eat that stuff for a meal, but exhibited immense, almost super-human self-control, so I could have room for the entree. I even gave Sabrina, my 8 month old, small pieces of it to occupy her and she liked it too, despite just two small teeth in her mouth.

We didn’t order any appetizers and jumped right into two entrees:

Shrimp and Crawfish Tails – in a creamy mushroom, bacon and garlic sauce, topped with grated parmesan

and the Tortilla-Crusted Salmon – pan-sauteed, topped with a sauteed crab cake, and served over chipotle cream sauce, with sweet potato puree, sliced fresh avocados and jalapeno corn relish.

The salmon was cooked just right, medium-rare, for our tastes and the rich and creamy sauce on the pasta dish was just perfect with the crusty bread. Is your mouth watering yet? Well, the best thing was dessert!

You’re looking at the New Orleans Style Custard topped with chocalate liqueur and garnished with rolled wafers….it was free because of my wife’s birthday, but if you were to spend the $5.95, it would be worth every penny. We licked that plate clean…well, not literally, but close.

Total bill was in the neighborhood of $50 with tip and tax. Not bad for a family of 5….but somewhat pricey considering that this family of 5 only shared two entrees! Food quality here has never let me down and the waiter (Eric?) was very good. The only other restaurant in Round Rock that I equally like is Main Street Grill. I’ll have to write on that sone another day…unless you want to treat.

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Don’t forget about Temple, Killeen and Ft. Hood Texas!

You hear a lot about how Georgetown, Texas is such a great place to live for people who work in Austin. But what about 30 minutes in the other direction North? Well, that would land you right in Temple and the entire Killeen/Ft. Hood area. Don’t be scared off by the picture on the left…that would be more like your commute to Austin, then Temple. You see, if you’re heading north, there rarely is any traffic! Heading south into Austin, well, that’s another story.

I have recently had an influx of clients who are working in Temple/Ft. Hood/Killeen and one thing that is important to all of them is the drive time. So here’s a little research I put together thanks to the power of Google maps.

These calculations were done to the entrance of the neighborhood to the Hwy 195 exit 268. You’ll want to add another minute or two to get to the actual home.

These are all close to 10 minutes or less:

Shady Oaks = 4.1 Miles                          (6 Minutes)
Berry Creek/Logan Plateau = 4.5 Miles   (8 Minutes)
Falls of San Gabriel = 5.8 Miles              (9 Minutes)
Georgetown Village = 5.4 Miles              (9 Minutes)
Historic Georgetown Square = 5.4 Miles (9 Minutes)
River Chase = 6.7 Miles                           (9 Minutes)
Wood Ranch = 7.5 Miles                          (11 Minutes)

These are all 15-20 minutes:

Fountainwood Estates = 8.4 Miles              (14 Minutes)
Cimarron Hills = 11.9 Miles                        (15 Minutes)
Woodland Park = 9.1 Miles                          (15 Minutes)
Teravista = 12.2 Miles                                 (15 Minutes)
Mayfield Ranch = 13.7 Miles                       (15 Minutes)
Gabriels Overlook = 12.6 Miles                   (16 Minutes)
Behrens Ranch/Walsh Ranch 14.1 Miles      (16 Minutes)
Escalera Ranch = 12 Miles                           (17 Minutes)

From the Hwy 195 exit 268 to Temple exit 301 is 33.8 miles or 30 minutes. So you can get to Temple from any of these neighborhoods in 36 – 47 minutes one way. If you drive faster you can probably deduct another minute or two. Driving like a Grandma? Well, add another 5 minutes. Anyways, you get the point.

I’d be interested in some actual results! Do you live in one of these neighborhoods and work in Temple? How accurate are these times? Post your results!

Choosing a Fence Company in Georgetown, Texas

Finding the best fencing contractor in Georgetown, Texas

I’m trying to make some adjustments to my backyard fence to create a storage area. Currently the fence is pushed towards the back of my garage and I want to move it forward. Here are two pictures showing both sides of the fence:

Once I push this piece of fence back, I want to replace it with a gate so I can access this small grassy area for some outdoor storage. I’ll probably have to cut-off the sprinkler system on this grassy area and maybe replace the grass with crushed granite.

I decided to get three different quotes for this project:

1. Austex – This was the first company I called since they were the ones who erected the fence in the first place. They will eventually be out here adding two gates as part of my office studio project so I figured they would give it to me for a fairly good price. A week after the guy came out, I’m still waiting for the quote…

Update: Well, it’s the end of the day and after being “promised” a call today, still nothing.

2. Dave’s Fence – I always see this company off Williams Drive and see their truck driving around so I thought I’d give them a shot. The nice receptionist got the details of my project and told me Dave would call me back. I called them today, let’s hope they don’t take a week, like Austex!

Update: I was told that this was considered a “repair” job and they only do installations (even though their website claims “We build the best and repair the rest”). So I was referred to Viking Fence – Spoke with Phillip and he referred me to Jesus (not to be confused with God). So now I’m waiting for Jesus, who handles the small jobs, to give me a call.

3. Hill Country Fence – These guys were a referral to me from a fencing supply company that I called by mistake. The guy, Todd, said he would be out here today to give me a quote! Now that’s quick service! Let’s see if he follows through.

Update: Todd called back at 5PM and said it’s getting late and he would rather meet me here tomorrow morning. I appreciate that he at least called me, but I’m not too surprised.

Well, I’ll let you know what my prices are and show you pictures of the completed project in a future post. Let the games begin!

UPDATE: I ended up using DBC Fence Company, Stephen Brunson was very responsive and price was competitive.  Give him a call on your next project  at 512-966-1422!

Where to get gas in Georgetown Texas at 4am

These days you mention anything with the word “gas” and you can get all sorts of attention…so I’m cheating with this blog post to get some additional readership

If you searched for GAS PRICES, GAS STATIONS, GAS IS GOING UP, GAS IS GOING DOWN and/or GEORGETOWN, TEXAS I hope this blog comes up. Don’t worry, I will actually write something relevant:

My parents and my older sister, Jennie and her whole family, came down from Maryland to visit us a few weeks ago. It was nice, we stayed in a time share at San Antonio and then spent a few days in Georgetown, Texas. Well, since all things must come to an end, it was soon time for me to drive them back to Austin Bergstrom International Airport (just 40-50 minutes from Georgetown). I left at about 4-5 AM since it was an early flight and I needed to get gas. So I went down Williams Drive and thought I would hit the most convenient gas station I saw:

Wow, this looks like a very nice place. Lots of bright lights and existing vehicles tell me that this place is open! However, when I got here, for some reason the first pump would not accept my credit card. As a matter of fact, neither would the second pump I drove to. I tried a debit and a credit card and no luck. What was worse was that the pump started asking me all sorts of silly questions that took me forever to scroll through. WORD OF ADVICE: If you’re in a hurry, and you’re in a hot Texas summer, avoid gas stations that advertise the “TOUCHLESS CAR WASH” Why? It’s just another silly option that they offer and it can delay the whole gas filling process. What happened to the good ‘ole days when the only options you had was the type of gas you wanted. Now, they start trying to sell anything from soda, to oil additives to car washes at the pump!

Anyway, since I struck out at Valero with their non-credit card working pumps I hopped on down to the only other gas station that was open at this hour on Williams Drive:

Another nice looking gas station and gas here was actually a whole penny cheaper! Wow! So I saved about a quarter filling up here. Options were kept to a minimum (no brushless car wash system here) and the pumps actually worked!

So, the next time you come rolling into my part of town, go for the big name in gas: TEXACO. You’ll sweat less (by having less options to scroll through), pay less and be finished quicker!

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