Local postman ready to show off hometown to state brethren
“Do you want a frosty mug or plastic, Marvin?” Patrick Webb asks his guest.
“Why, a frosty mug, of course,” answers Denton postman Marvin Ruyle.
The jukebox against the wall was lit up, playing songs from the 1950’s. The place hasn’t changed much since Marvin first came here. We’re at Mr. Frosty, Marvin’s favorite in a long list of local places to eat. Since 1952, the Webb family, beginning with Jack and Judy, Patrick’s grandparents, has owned and operated the hamburger joint on Route 377 serving up hamburgers, chili dogs and daily batches of fresh homemade root beer. His dad Randy owns it now. Other grandchildren work here too: A.J., Kim and Debbie. Marvin knows all of them.
“Being a postman is a sociable job,” Marvin says. His soft-spoken folksiness makes him well suited for his occupation.
He knows all his customers on a first-name basis, where their kids go to school and when they got married. His territory is one big family. As our conversation goes on, it seems more like the entire town of Denton is extended family. He is, in fact, a walking encyclopedia of Denton knowledge. It’s so vast that you can’t Google for what’s in his head. Except for a four-year stint in Germany courtesy of the U.S. Army, he has called Denton County home his whole life.
Marvin is a pearl and Denton is his oyster.
We’re quaffing root beers and downing burgers and mountains of crinkle-cut fries at Mr. Frosty to talk about Denton’s newest jewel, the Embassy Suites by Hilton Denton Convention Center. You see, Marvin will retire from the United States Post Office in April 2018 after 33 years of service. But he will continue as Vice President of the Denton Union of Letter Carriers and is giddy about bringing the Texas State Association of Letter Carriers to town in 2019. Through the years, he’s criss-crossed the state from Corpus Christi to Houston, Dallas, San Antonio and Waco for conventions but could never bring his fellow postal workers to Denton. That, to this longtime member of the family of postmen and women and lifetime Dentonite, is an incredibly big deal.
“San Antonio has the Alamo… and the Riverwalk,” he said. “I have Denton! I have all this,” he motioned around in the air with his hands.
But there was no space large enough to hold 500 people in Denton – until now.
An hour before hanging out at Mr. Frosty, we were on a private tour of the new Denton Convention Center.
“It’s going to be fantastic,” Marvin said as he ambled around one of two Presidential Suites, marveling at the technologies built into rooms and the efforts taken to make the place its own destination. Electronic tablets will allow guests to change the temperature, TV and call room service or the front desk. The bathrooms have Bluetooth speakers built into the mirrors.
This is the first ever Gold Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED)-certified Embassy Suites in the world. The tall hollow atrium footprint, for which Embassy Suites is known, has been replaced. The lobby focal point is a 22-foot-tall waterfall and living green wall. The entire place is a blend of The Jetsons meets Texas, with round LED lights in the ballrooms that resemble flying saucers and reclaimed wood on the walls of the 24/7 Starbucks.
The arts and music of Denton will be featured throughout the hotel, including work by local artists. A brass trumpet chandelier hangs over the front desk, paying tribute to the local music scene.
Marvin went to a window, pointing out the water tower branded with the city logo. The green UNT flag rippled in the gusty wind behind Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital. From another window we could see the towers at TWU.
“That’s where Andy B’s is going in,” Marvin said, pointing to all the construction behind the hotel. The entire corner of Rayzor Ranch, in which the convention center resides, will include an Alamo Draft House and Zoe’s Kitchen. Marvin’s already booked a private party night at Andy B’s Restaurant & Entertainment Center.
The wheels kept turning inside Marvin’s brain as the convention center’s General Manager Jeff Pritts took us to the ballrooms, the lobby and the connected Houlihan’s restaurant. The smile never left the postman’s face. He was envisioning how it was all going to look exploding with Texas postal workers.
Showing off Denton to his postal buddies has been on Marvin’s bucket list for many years.
He will have quite a bit of help on that front. When he first learned the convention center was being built, he wanted to bid on the location for one of his upcoming state conventions. Dana Lodge at the Denton Convention and Visitors Bureau worked hand-in-hand with Marvin from the start. She helped create a budget and video for the site selection committee and continues to collaborate on itineraries that will transport conventioneers around the community.
Busses have already been booked to take visitors to some of Marvin’s favorite spots outside Rayzor Ranch.
“Dana’s got that all under control,” he said. He will play the gracious host, but she’s got his back on logistics, and that gives him peace of mind.
That will be helpful when they visit East Side, one of his favorite bars on the square. It has more than 100 different beers on tap and another 130 types of bourbon and whiskey. There’s something for everybody there, he assures.
It seems postal workers are going to eat their way through Denton.
Marvin also plans to hit one of his other favorite restaurants, Smokehouse Barbecue. He’s had union meetings there forever, alternating menus: beer-battered catfish or a barbecue plate of brisket and sausage.
“Smokey and Jeanette own that,” he told me.
Smokey owns the Smokehouse? Surely, I made a mistake taking notes. Maybe Marvin misspoke. A quick phone call was in order.
“Can you please tell me the name of the owners?” I asked.
“Smokey and Jeanette,” said the lady.
“Smokey owns the Smokehouse?”
She laughed. “Well, his name is Earl but we all call him Smokey.”
Marvin was right again – of course he was.
See below for renderings of the Embassy Suites by Hilton Denton Convention Center, provided by Embassy Suites: