The Briegers mean business. Sitting outside their pottery store on the courthouse square—interrupted, in a friendly way, by everyone who’s anyone in Blanco—they brainstorm, crack wise and explore whatever entrepreneurial possibility comes to mind.
“We have a saying around here,” Jan Brieger says. “The economy’s in the toilet? Let’s expand!”
At the moment, they’re taking over the former Real Foods market, handily located right next door to Brieger Pottery. They’re turning it into a restaurant and, despite having neither a name nor a menu, they plan to be open in two months.
“We’re the proud owners of an espresso machine,” Jan announces. “That means we’ll be serving coffee.”
“The good stuff,” adds her husband, Jon. “Organic.”
“Lavender lemonade,” their 25-year-old daughter Tasha suggests. “Lemon and lavender is the best of all the combinations.” A successful lavender farmer in the heart of what’s become known as the Lavender Capital of Texas, Tasha’s spent hours devising uses for her aromatic harvest—from pillows to tinctures to roll-on “headache sticks” to culinary herb mixes and teas.
“We tend to talk everything over,” Jan says. “We’re a close family,” Jon agrees. “We are the Brieger empire,” Tasha adds, jokingly. But she has a point. In the 31 years since they came to Blanco, they have come up with many ideas and made a go of every single one.
Jon and Jan met and became high school sweethearts in San Marcos, studied pottery at Texas State and traveled the country selling their wares until settling in Blanco in 1978. At the time, their grand plans consisted of opening a small pottery store and building a house from native rock. But their store quickly became “a gathering place…a sort of an unofficial welcome center,” Jan says. “Before we came, the only place to buy a wedding present was the dollar store. I never, ever thought we’d get so involved.”
The Briegers keep expanding—adding square feet as well as other potters’ work, locally made crafts and fine arts, Oaxacan woodwork, used books, vintage and handmade clothes and whatever else Jan, a dedicated shopper, can’t resist. Naturally, they carry all things lavender, from the many Blanco-area lavender farms, more in demand since Jon helped the Chamber of Commerce develop a lavender festival, now in its fifth year.
At this point, Nan Hanus, who’s been manning the Brieger Pottery cash register, joins the discussion. A longtime chef, Nan’s agreed to cook and shape the new restaurant’s menu.
“People are constantly asking me where to have lunch,” Jan says to Nan. “They want seasonal vegetables, something healthful, maybe salads, maybe soup…that one I love…”
“Butternut squash bisque,” Nan says, finishing Jan’s thought. “Definitely. And dessert—how about pavlovas? They’re little meringues filled with lemon curd and fresh berries.”
“Mostly just good, healthy food,” Nan says, “organic whenever possible. McCall Creek Farms is right down the road. But for baked goods, you gotta have the real deal—real butter, real cream.”
So it’s a pure-yet-indulgent menu, agreed? Agreed—unless, of course, a Brieger has a sudden flash of insight to tweak things. If that happens, the brainstorms will once again roll into Blanco.
Visit briegerpottery.com, hillcountrylavender.com. Blanco’s Lavender Festival runs June 12–14—details at blancolavenderfest.com.