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Preserving Heritage and Nurturing Growth

Mary Jane Nalley's Indelible Mark on New Braunfels

Mary Jane Nalley, a co-owner of the historic Gruene Hall, is an influential figure in New Braunfels, Texas. Her commitment to the community and her visionary spirit has carved a legacy, transforming the once quiet town into a bustling cultural center.

When Nalley reflects on her journey with Gruene Hall, she speaks not just of business success, but of a shared history, community-building, and heartfelt hospitality. As a co-owner of Texas's most famous dance hall, she has played a crucial role in shaping the cultural landscape of New Braunfels.

In Nalley's words, she and her business partner, Pat Molak, had decided "early in our business partnership that it was important to give back to the New Braunfels Community." The result is a continuous flow of support towards various non-profit organizations, made possible by innovative marketing activities that blend business with community outreach.

One of her noteworthy accomplishments is the Gruene Music & Wine Festival. "I am particularly proud," Nalley says, "of our Gruene Music & Wine Festival which began in 1987 as a small event to raise funds for the United Way of Comal County (UWCC)." Now, it has grown into a major annual event, significantly contributing to over 33 local non-profit organizations.

The establishments under the Molak Corporation banner, such as The Gristmill and the Gruene Antique Company, have a mass appeal that goes beyond just being popular tourist destinations. According to Nalley, "it boils down to history and hospitality." She elaborates, "People feel at home and feel a sense of place when they're visiting our businesses... they create exceptional memories and that is what brings them back again and again."

With the goal of preserving the rich history of these sites, Nalley is a staunch advocate of restoring and repurposing historical structures. "I believe as many or more people appreciate the fact that a building is being reused rather than being discarded and torn down, as long as it is done well," she explains. "Preserving something from the past and the ambiance created by a business in a historic structure is very attractive to many customers." This belief echoes in her work with restoring and repurposing historical sites.

Turning the spotlight on Gruene Hall, Nalley credits country music legend George Strait for its fame. "Without a doubt, George Strait put Gruene and Gruene Hall on the map," she states. Despite the hall's current fame and stature, its original authenticity remains intact. "We’ve held fast to keeping Gruene Hall true to its original physical appearance as well as its original purpose in the community," Nalley affirms. This authenticity has made Gruene Hall a favorite amongst musicians, promising an intimate interaction with the audience that is hard to find elsewhere.

As for the significant growth New Braunfels has witnessed recently, Nalley views it as largely positive because "it fuels a vibrant economy." Despite the challenges of managing rapid expansion, Nalley remains hopeful about the city's economic prospects.

Expressing her fondness for New Braunfels, Nalley confesses, "I love the beauty of New Braunfels. The rivers especially. And, of course, the location of New Braunfels is fabulous." Looking to the future, she predicts continued growth for Gruene and New Braunfels. She expresses excitement for the infusion of modern ideas as a new generation takes over the businesses.

Mary Jane Nalley's journey is not just a story of success; but one of passion, dedication, and community service. Her advice to young entrepreneurs encapsulates her philosophy: "Do what you love and what makes you happy, help others along the way and don’t take yourself too seriously." These words serve as a testament to her indelible impact on the New Braunfels community and her enduring legacy in Texas.

"Do what you love and what makes you happy, help others along the way and don’t take yourself too seriously"