Retirement looks like a lot of things to a lot of people — and for Jon Perez, who owns The Stone Cellar in Round Top, it’s all about keeping busy.
A Houston native who’d made his living in sales, Jon was accustomed to demanding schedules and constant travel. When a spate of health troubles took hold in 2011, however, it was time to step back and evaluate things.
“I just decided that quality of life was more important than money,” he explained. “And with my health issues, I didn’t know how long the good Lord had planned for me to be here.”
That’s when he set his sights on The Stone Cellar, a beloved restaurant and pub in Round Top, Texas.
Jon had helped get the business started in 2009 alongside a doctor friend, but had then returned to his own line of work. With his changing situation, however, he reconsidered the Round Top life. Thus, about a year and a half after The Stone Cellar opened its doors, he took the plunge and bought the business.
Named, aptly, because it was a stone building with a cellar, The Stone Cellar was located right off town square at the time. It was an 1873 general store-turned brew pub that served up gourmet pizzas, ice-cold drinks and regular musical performances.
Of course, as with so much in life, with time came change.
It was late 2013 or so when Jon decided to relocate — but only a few blocks away — and expand the business into something more. He purchased the original La Grange train depot and the amenities that went along with it. That included a dance hall, RV park and an antique venue, too.
Around January of 2015, he and his business found their 15 minutes of fame when Round Top’s famous Junk Gypsy sisters, Amie and Jolie Sikes, tackled the dance hall on their HGTV show. The duo put their design skills to work on a space that provided the perfect blend of rustic charm and modern amenities.
“They barred me from going in,” Jon said with a laugh of his experience with the show. “I think they wanted to catch the shock and awe on the TV cameras when we walked in. And they got what they wanted. They did a phenomenal job. It’s beautiful.”
Today, The Stone Cellar is a full-fledged entertainment venue drawing big-name musical acts every weekend, allowing folks a spin around the dance floor, dishing up tasty pizzas, sandwiches and salads — and serving up sangrias, beer and wine, as well. Couples regularly rent out the space to host weddings, while the adjacent RV park, with its 40 spots, draws folks together for campfire singalongs and fun nights under the Texas sky.
In fact, the business has been named Fayette County’s No. 1 music venue for eight of the past nine years.
And if you’re wondering whether running such a venture takes time? It does. But that’s exactly how Jon likes it.
He’s used to working 14- or 16-hour days — pausing for a recliner nap when the need arises before getting back to business. And he’s grown accustomed to the folks who joke that they can’t believe he could call such a lifestyle “retirement.”
“I’m a people person. I love meeting new people, learning about them and hearing their stories,” he said. “This isn’t work to me. If it ever stops being fun, I’ll call it a day and find something else. But I’m the type of person who can’t sit still.”
Looking ahead, Jon said he hopes to continue drawing new musical acts to the area, helping fun events find their footing in town and giving back to the community he calls home.
“Life is good, and I cherish every day,” he said. “I’m going to keep doing what I’m doing.”
The Stone Cellar is open Thursday through Sunday, and is available to rent for special occasions, too. For more information, check out their Facebook page.