Years ago, The Texan Cafe put Hutto on the map for offering delicious pies and grandma’s cooking. In 2013, the downtown restaurant is the talk of town for another reason—it was used for a scene in Robert Rodriguez’s upcoming TV show, “From Dusk ‘til Dawn: The Series,” a show based on the cult-classic movie of the same name.
The show will be the first scripted original series to air on El Rey Network, described in a press release as Rodriguez’s “new genre busting cable network” and is set to debut in December.
The supernatural crime saga will be an hour-long 10-episode serialized drama, created, directed and executive produced by Rodriguez, who is known for Sin City, Machete and Desperado. The 1996 cult classic, “From Dusk ‘til Dawn,” was created with Quentin Tarantino.
Don Johnson is set to recreate his role as Earl McGraw. Joining him are D.J. Cotrona as Seth Gecko, the role that launched the film career of George Clooney, Zane Holtz as Richie Gecko and Jesse Garcia as Texas Ranger Freddie Gonzales, a new character created for the series.
“If the movie’s the short story, the series is the novel,” Rodriguez said in the press release. “We have assembled an amazing cast and crew, and viewers can expect to be a part of a wild ride when the series premieres on El Rey Network next spring.”
Ron Yaudes, who along with Roger Joughin, owns The Texan Cafe, said they were asked to stay quiet about the filming leading up to it, but the experience brings new opportunities to Hutto.
Film crews began setting up about 4 a.m. on Nov. 4 and The Texan Cafe staff had breakfast ready for them around 6 a.m.
Yaudes said the restaurant does not usually open for business at that time, but two cooks prepared a number of eggs, bacons, biscuits, sausage and hash browns. The food fed about 15 people and the leftovers were donated to the Hutto Food Pantry.
The film crew set up the back section of the restaurant and made it their own for a few hours, by taking down wall decorations that read “The Texan Cafe” and replacing it with decorations that reflected a Native American influence.
“I do want to mention what wonderful house guests they are. They even brought their own port-a-potty. They were here until after noon. They filmed inside—the scene where the sheriff came in to the cafe to sit down,” Yaudes said.
The famous restaurant sign with a cow was changed to read “Cowpoke Cafe” but maintained the same setup and style. The Texan Cafe got to keep the sign.
Yaudes said Rodriguez was driving around looking for a place that fit the profile when he came across The Texan Cafe.
“I usually don’t answer the phone on Monday morning but for some reason I answered it that time (about three weeks before filming took place),” Yaudes said.
Different people came to take a look at the place and took pictures from different angles to ensure it was ideal for the scene.
Mayor Debbie Holland said the city’s participation was related to granting Rodriguez and his crew a special permit for closing the downtown streets and making additional parking space available at the Co-Op.
“What wonderful opportunities Hutto has in its historic commercial buildings and historic homes to be able to maybe do this in the future. With Robert [Rodriguez] being from Austin, I really hope it opens that opportunity for us. We have these downtown buildings that are gems. The silos are another point that could be capitalized on,” Holland added.
“We don’t have a large downtown like Taylor or Granger. That kind of gets the opportunity. Sometimes they are just looking for something very specific and we may have that niche that they’re looking for,” she explained.
Yaudes admitted The Texan Cafe was a little hesitant to agree to the filming at first.
“Our reputation we like to think is based on good food and the beautiful ambiance of this building and just being friendly and folksy and grandma’s tablecloths are important to us. I’m not sure what grandma would think. I don’t think she would like vampire movies. We did this as a sacrifice to Hutto. She’s probably rolling in her grave at the thought of a vampire [show],” Yaudes joked.
Holland said part of the purpose of bringing in Downtown Manager Kim McAuliffe was to have an individual focus on further developing downtown and bringing all business owners together to partner on events and projects.
Yaudes hopes this kind of opportunity will bring exposure not just to downtown but to the Hutto area.
“The Rodriguez group were so friendly and relaxed...much more Austin casual—laid back. A bunch of good guys just working to get it done. They all live in Austin. So many promised to bring the wife and kids sometime to eat and get some pie,” he said.
The series will center on bank robber Seth Gecko (Cotrona) and his violent, unpredictable brother, Richard “Richie” Gecko (Holtz), who are wanted by the FBI and Texas Rangers Earl McGraw (Johnson) and Freddie Gonzales (Garcia) after a bank heist left several people dead.
While on an escape route to Mexico, Seth and Richie encounter former minister Jacob Fuller and his family who they take hostage.
Using his family RV to make a run for the Mexican border, chaos ensues when the group detours to a strip club that is unknowingly populated by vampires, and forces them to fight until dawn in order to get out alive. The series deepens the tone of the film, adds new characters and backstories, and expands the Mesoamerican mythology behind the vampires.