This past weekend saw the closure of one of Texas’ only legitimate Tiki bars, Howie’s Tiki. I’ve spent a couple of days thinking about it and mourning the loss, because while losing any good Tiki bar is always a huge bummer, it hits super hard in a state such as Texas, where the options are severely limited. Originally, I didn’t think I would be able to drive down for one last hurrah due to this happening on such short notice, but thanks to my friend Roy and his wife Maria, I was able to do so, and I am so very glad I did.
Howie’s, although located in a suburban area, was not a huge stretch to visit. And it was worth visiting, for sure. Mark always had his drinks down, and the bar had the right decor and music to suit a discerning Tikiphile’s tastes. Yet, it never got the attention or the patronage it deserved, and that is really frustrating. For a long while now, the closure of so many great Tiki locations has been a sore spot within the Tiki community, and people always talk about how if only the place had been visited more often and supported by local people, it might have had a chance to survive. This situation is no different.
This post is not to lay blame on people for the closure of Howie’s. But seriously, everyone, SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL TIKI BARS. I can’t say it much more concisely than this. Make an effort. Not everyone has the funds to travel for Tiki and fly out to this place or that place, but if you are within driving distance, it is certainly not unreasonable. Find a friend to stay with who lives locally, or find an Airbnb or hotel room nearby if the drive takes you further than you are comfortable driving in at night. I truly believe if people care enough, they will make an effort, and I wish people had cared more about Howie’s. When I went for the final night, the bar was hopping, and of course, the question then becomes, “Where were all these people all along?” Even more sad was that the number of Tikiphiles who attended the last night was pretty scant. Two of us drove from Dallas to be there, so we aren’t technically locals. I know not everyone can drive several hours to be there on short notice, but I still wish I had seen more locals there.
I am so glad I had the chance to find Howie’s, and I feel grateful for the great times there with fellow Tiki enthusiasts. I will miss it very much, and I wish Mark the very best for the future. To my readers, please, PLEASE support your local establishments. Honestly, this goes beyond Tiki. Don’t wait until the last day to show up and say that you actually liked a place, and wish it wasn’t closing. Small businesses such as Howie’s that are built with passion, love, and hard work deserve our support. Texas is already so scarce on real Tiki, and it’s up to us to help change that.