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HomeNightlifeCelebrating Alice's Tall Texan, Houston's Kindest Bar (Critically)

Celebrating Alice's Tall Texan, Houston's Kindest Bar (Critically)

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Let’s say it’s simply earlier than midnight on a Saturday at Alice’s Tall Texan. The regulars are lengthy gone for the day, and the hipster youngsters who’ve learn concerning the Major Road bar are deep into their final ice-cold chalices of Lone Star and Shiner Bock. Proprietor Alice Ward presides over all of it; in quarter-hour she’ll begin shooing individuals out.

Then the door swings open, and in steps Felipe Galvan and his band of Latin ska-punk insurgent rousers Los Skarnales. The members of the band, a Houston establishment for greater than 25 years, settle in round a desk. Ward huffs.

“She seems to be like she’d be able to go, then there’d be [expletive] 10 of us,” says Galvan. “She’d go ‘Agh!’”

So Galvan and his bandmates would chug beers and down pictures rapidly in order to not additional upset Ward.

However they weren’t the one ones to really feel her wrath ultimately name.

“In case you didn’t hurry up and get out of there … oh my God,” laughs Debbie Martinez, a 30-or-so-year patron of Alice’s Tall Texan, who at one time was visiting as much as 5 instances every week along with her husband, Hector. Martinez remembers a trick Ward would play to get individuals out fast. “She’d flip the air conditioner off.”

Ward says there’s a quite simple motive for all this.

“It was time for them to go so I may have my drink,” she says. If she closed at 1 a.m., she may rapidly drive over to the Shiloh Membership on Studewood for her lone vodka tonic of the night.

Galvan wrote a music about being kicked out of the bar. Referred to as “You’re Lower Off,” it led to a music video shot on the Tall Texan. Ward and longtime worker Suzanne Espinoza even made a cameo, every poking brooms towards the digital camera as if to direct the viewer to the exit, as that they had been doing for the final a few years. Los Skarnales was set to premiere the video on the bar throughout its St. Patrick’s Day occasion, naturally on March 17.

However on that day all bars in Houston have been instructed to shut due to the unfold of Covid-19.

“Rattling,” says Galvan. “How ironic, man.”

After Gov. Greg Abbott reopened bars in Could, the Tall Texan got here again for a number of weeks, however it closed once more in late June as soon as Abbott backtracked. On July 30 Ward introduced that the bar would shut completely, shuttering after August.

Instantly followers and former patrons of the Heights bar, additionally referred to as the Tall Texas Drive In, reached out to mourn the top of an period and have fun a group fixture that hosted birthday events, vacation occasions, loads of Astros watch events, and was answerable for various wild nights. Loads of that's due to the lady behind that bar pouring a budget beer and generally, when it was time, yelling at individuals to get the hell out.

Ward, who was working because the bar's supervisor in 1984, took the Tall Texan over from her boss Roland Smith, who needed to let it go due to a possibility at a brewery. She saved a whole lot of issues the identical, like pouring low cost Lone Star and Shiner Bock from the faucet into both a mug or a frosty goblet or chalice (learn: chALICE), and giving patrons free rein to pop 1 / 4 into the jukebox. She didn’t like each music that got here out of it, although.

“My mom hated ‘Free Chook’ after some time,” Ward's daughter Dina Ward says of the traditional 1973 Lynyrd Skynyrd music. “On the previous jukebox she had ‘Free Chook’ taken out, however they put in an web jukebox, they usually put it again in there.”

There was loads of old-school nation, and generally Ward would sneak some Frank Sinatra within the combine. Native Tejanos performed their namesake music. In later years “hipsters,” as nearly each common calls them, would sing alongside to trendy pop. One music that grew to become previous quick: “Tennessee Whiskey” by Chris Stapleton.

“It began out good, however it lasted so lengthy,” says Ward. “It was performed continuously.”

As a result of it had been round for many years, the act of ingesting on the Tall Texan was basically handed down from technology to technology. World Struggle II veterans, child boomer retirees, middle-aged Houstonians, and youthful drinkers may all be noticed ingesting Lone Stars on the similar time. 

“I've seen generations within the bar,” says Espinoza. “I imply, my grandpa used to come back there and my dad got here there. I can think about that Alice has seen far more than that.”

Possibly as a result of these youthful crowds continued to indicate, it appeared as if the nicely can be in operation endlessly. In recent times tales on-line have been written concerning the Tall Texan’s stature as a high dive bar, a spot for affordable chilly beer, nice dialog, and a group of those that united by potluck events, for the great instances and the robust ones. It was the sort of bar that was simply too arduous to search out as of late.

However July proved a problem in a number of methods. Having to shut after just some weeks of being open harm the bar's backside line. Worse, a number of the Tall Texan's regulars died, like Rhoni Black and each Papa Juan and Alicia Parra—lower than three weeks aside, no much less. Papa Juan died July 11, and about two weeks later, Ward introduced the bar’s closing.

The Tall Texan requested people to go to July 31 and August 1 to purchase up no matter canned and bottled beer was left, with complementary chalices and mugs going together with each six-pack buy. The traces have been out the door and across the block.

“I don’t suppose any of us anticipated that type of response,” says Dina Ward, who's the bar's social media guru. (Alice Ward has some data of the web: “Fb and YouTube and no matter you name all that stuff.”)

There shall be a number of extra possibilities to say goodbye. From 3 to 7 p.m. Saturday, August 15, the Tall Texan will promote growlers-to-go from kegs of Lone Star and Shiner Bock, and if there’s no sellout, it’ll open on the similar time Sunday to complete off the sale. Bar memorabilia like indicators and fixtures will go up on the market from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. August 22.

However what about Ward? What's the matriarch of Houston bars going to do now that her place is closed?

“I wanna attempt to get again into my bowling,” says Ward, who at her peak averaged within the 140s. Plus, yearly for 25 years she and her girlfriends traveled to main nationwide bowling tournaments, visiting locations like Niagara Falls and Indianapolis. She’s unsure whether or not she’ll be touring sooner or later, however she’s excited to spend a while on one thing that isn’t working a bar.

Nonetheless, regardless of how a lot her clients irked her over time, regardless of how a lot she heard “Free Chook,” and regardless of who walked into Tall Texan, she’s going to overlook it terribly.

“I do know I’ve met lots of people, and I bought some good buddies on the bar,” she says. “It’s gonna be unhappy to not be seeing those self same individuals on daily basis.”

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