OutPost Story - 1
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October 1st, 2000


Since 1981, The Outpost Tavern in Webster, Texas, just down NASA Road One from the Johnson Space Center, has been a favorite hangout for astronauts, rocket scientists, space geeks, remodeling contractors, plumbers, well, you get the general idea. 
It is the kind of place where everyone just feels comfortable.

It is also a capsule of the history of the American Space Program – with walls filled to near overflowing with autographed photographs of astronauts and other luminaries (and some not so luminaries) as well as other space-related neat stuff.  There’s even a tailhook off an unfortunate A6 (let’s just say the tailhook was not removed by a ground crew).

And it’s been in three movies so far, including the recently released “Space Cowboys” directed by Clint Eastwood (click here to see a few pictures from the bar scene shot at The Outpost).  The other two movies are:  "RocketMan" and "Challenger", a made for ABC-TV movie starring Karen Allen and Barry Bostwick.

The history of the building itself is unique – it began life as a World War Two Air Force barracks at the nearby Ellington Air Force Base before being moved to its present location in 1965 to serve as a barbecue shack and the U-Joint (properly “Fort Terry’s The Universal Joint”) before being purchased by Gene Ross and becoming The Outpost in 1980.

And let’s not forget the famous Outpost Burgers and Fries (OBAF) made fresh to order.  Unlike the fast food burger chains today, the fries start as a whole potato and are cut just before cooking,  that’s how fresh they are !

So what is the problem?  Well, The Outpost may have to close the doors forever unless some help is received.

According to Sharon Aden, the current owner of the business,  she and her husband Stan purchased the business from the estate of Gene Ross (the “old man”) after his death to see if they could continue the tradition and good times that were had by everyone.  They never intended to get rich off of the business, but did hope to make the ends meet.  Since their purchase, times have been tough as new establishments opened in the area and the regular customers found greater happy-hour options available.  They had mounting debts but vowed to keep trying.  And their struggles were just beginning to pay off when another setback occurred:  the local fire marshal closed down the grill.

With the grill closed, nearly half of the business went away, and the bills began piling up even faster than before.  Many of the regulars pitched in to help, volunteering their time and talents to getting the grill back up as soon as possible.  But it isn’t that simple in Webster to bring things up to code.  In fact, it turns out it is down right expensive.  Permits have to be pulled, contractors hired, specifications met, all of which came with an ever increasing cost.  The initial bid was over $12,000!  But with some luck and a lot of phone calls, connections were made and costs were cut.  Unfortunately, they were not cut down enough for a small bar to afford.

Other problems mounted
(an aging air conditioner finally bit the dust, the water main needs to be replaced because of this summers horrific Houston heat, a cooler needs a new compressor, etc) and Sharon finally decided that it was enough - Time to close the doors.

As word of this decision spread throughout the NASA and surrounding community there were words of disbelief:

   
“The Outpost can’t close – it’s too historic.”
    “What can we do to help?”

In a week of an emotional roller coaster ride for Sharon and Stan, everyone wanted to know what was needed to keep the doors open.

Finally, Stan decided that it was time to call a meeting with anybody who wanted to hear about the reasons for the closing and let them talk about solutions.

On Thursday, September 28th, a group of about thirty  "Friends of The Outpost" sat down with Sharon and Stan and listened to what they had to say:  No more debt, no more loans, no partners, and no guarantees.

It only took the assembled group five minutes to decide on a course of action:  ask the community to help by donating to The Outpost.  After all, for nearly five years Sharon and Stan have put their time and savings into keeping the place going for us, now it was our turn to give something back to The Outpost.

Friends of the OutPost raised $9000 in six weeks !

Click here to go to Chapter 2 of The OutPost Story...

 


This Webpage Is A Tribute To The OutPost,  A US Space Program Landmark
"SaveTheOutPost" Website Retired Feb 01, 2001       This Website Inaugurated Feb 01, 2001

Questions about this website?  Please contact us at:    op-tribes at comcast.net
Webpage Sponsored by Friends Of The OutPost:  A Non-Profit Organization
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