Tyler, Texas

KLTV-TV ABC 7 (where I was a news reporter & community affairs show anchor/producer)

KLTV-TV ABC 7 (where I was a news reporter & community affairs show anchor/producer)

I spent two years (2003-05) living in Tyler, Rose Capital of the world in the heart of East Texas. I was a reporter and community affairs show anchor/producer for KLTV-TV ABC 7. My managers, co-workers, and other long-time residents say I was the first Asian-American on-air news personality in East Texas. Given the small Asian population, it’s an honor I don’t take lightly. Tyler is a place where people standing in their yard wave at you as you drive by, and the “good old boy” system is alive and well. The city of about 100,000 people has just about every major retail and restaurant chain there is, plus a number of charming local businesses. Having moved there from the big metropolis of Houston, I experienced culture shock but gradually fell in love with small-town living. Returning for a visit yesterday for the first time in seven years was very nostalgic for me. I felt like I was going home.

Tyler Rose Museum & Garden

Tyler Rose Museum & Garden

As my husband and I drove through the city where he used to visit me as my boyfriend, I remembered all the significant news-related landmarks: the state trooper who called me whenever he made a big drug bust on Interstate 20, the Wal-Mart where a store clerk was kidnapped which thrust me onto national TV news for the first time, the Smith County Courthouse where I was caught in the middle of a deadly shooting and made my debut on CNN. I also remember the personal places: the Brookshire’s store on Broadway where I shopped for groceries, my former apartment in the nicest gated complex in desirable South Tyler, my former friendly church, and my favorite spots and attractions.

Downtown Square: antique shop, restaurants, coffee shop
Tyler Rose Museum & Garden: rose queen, parade
Villa Montez: Latin Kitchen

Villa Montez: Latin Kitchen

Villa Montez, formerly Mansion on the Hill: beautiful restaurant that fits the descriptive name and very affordable (2 entrees + soup = $33, incl. tax)

Ranch at 7 Mile Hill: former Le Potager restaurant that’s now for events only, plus spa
The Potpourri House: cozy, friendly restaurant with shop catered to Junior League-type women that’s quintessentially Tyler
Fresh by Brookshire’s: like Whole Foods, it has organic and locally grown foods
Kiepersol Estates: wonderful winery, restaurant, and bed and breakfast
Oak Hills master-planned community: gorgeously designed new homes near established Holly Hill golf community
Oak Hills

Oak Hills

Lake Tyler and Lake Palestine: great for jet skiing and scenery

I haven’t been yet, but these very cool, family-friendly places are on my list to visit next time I’m in town: Tiger Creek Wildlife Refuge and Cherokee Trace Drive-Thru Safari. Sadly, The Forum antique shop & restaurant downtown has since shut down. And so has the Landmark Inn restaurant in a former post office in Jacksonville, a city just south of Tyler. But many new businesses, some with urban design concepts, have opened in this growing city. I’m excited to return in the future to see its continuing transformation.