Gerik’s Ole Czech Smokehouse

In Lake Highlands, the Geriks are known to many as a happy family, active in the community. Jim and Cindy raised their daughter, Haley, here, and the LHHS 2010 grad is now a Fightin’ Texas Aggie studying in College Station.

In the City of West, the Gerik name is one of the pillars the town itself was built on. Nita Gerik, Jim’s mom, was a founding director of Westfest, the Labor Day Weekend Czech and Polka Festival which draws crowds from all over Texas and beyond. If you’ve driven to Waco or Austin, chances are good you stopped in to Gerik’s Ole Czech Smokehouse and Bakery, owned by Jim’s cousins. It isn’t the Czech Stop, right on I-35, but it’s similar (and better, in the opinion of this former Longhorn), and it’s located just around the corner.

Cindy and Haley Gerik

Cindy and Haley Gerik

The good news: The Geriks are all okay after the terrible explosion that rocked the town and was felt almost 100 miles away. They are counting their blessings this morning, and they’re doing what they can to help their friends and neighbors.

Cindy, who also grew up in West, is in close communication with her brother there. He got their mom safely out of the nursing home very near the fertilizer plant, but she’s in shock and he’s caring for her. Two of their cousins lost their homes, along with many of their friends.

Haley told me she goes to visit her granny at the nursing home at least twice a month. Not surprising for the girl who was President of LHHS’ Girls Service League and a volunteer for the Boys & Girls Club once she hit Aggieland.

“My mom’s mom was in the common room of the nursing home, thankfully, and was wheeled out after the explosion with some minor cuts and bruises. My Mimi [dad’s mom] was not at home at the time, but the explosion blew out all her windows.”

Haley recalls summers  and vacations visiting family in the charming small town.

“Every Easter and Christmas is spent there,” she told me. “It’s like my second home.”

Gerik’s Ole Czech Smokehouse and Bakery is located at 511 West Oak Street, visible from the I-35 service road. Their delicious kolaches, cinnamon rolls and sausage are not-to-be-missed.

If you have family in West and you’d like to check on residents admitted to hospitals there, here are those numbers: Hillcrest Baptist Medical Center-(254) 202-1100, Scott & White – (888) 394-4947, Providence Health Center – (254) 761-7200.