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Readers Write - The Death of the Last Real Old Time Beer Joint in Dallas

Reader VH has graced us with her writings before — most notably here.  I was talking to My Bro the other day and we touched on the downside of Texas’ burgeoning population.   It is a wonderful place to live and the rest of the country is finding that seemingly so.   Downside???   Many of our recent immigrants to the State strive to live the same-same lifestyle as the did ‘up north’ or ‘out on the coast’.   Me?  I could give a rat’s ass about how you did it up in Chicago.  This is Texas.  We are different.  Get used to it.  All I can say is I-35 runs NORTH the same way it runs South Big Daddy.

night clubMy love of “beer joints” runs deep in my raising in the dusty, barren wilds of west Texas. Every town, no matter how small, had at least one beer joint. Unless you were unfortunate enough to live in a dry county, of which there were few. Most of these fine establishments were located on the main highway at the edge of town. One lone sign would be posted out front, usually neon. Some just read “Beer” others the name of the establishment, and also the obligatory “Beer”. The best ones had additional parking in the rear and a back door. We called that back parking lot the “Baptist Parking Lot” and the back door was the “Baptist” door. That way the fine upstanding pillars of the community could indulge in a cold beer, beyond the prying eyes of the general public. Those were the kinds of drinking establishments I grew up knowing and loving. Beer joints were usually dark, small, run down and shabby. They were cool in the summer and warm in the winter. They were always full of friendly people and the employees were like family. Whether you were a regular, or it was your first visit, you were always welcome.

So flash forward some 25 years and I move to Dallas, Texas. The bars in Dallas consisted of dance clubs, meat markets, hipster clubs, urban cowboy clubs, wannabe biker bars full of 50,000 dollar a year millionaires, seedy gay bars and snooty yuppie micro breweries. Try as I might, I couldn’t find one decent place to just go and relax and have a beer. Even the so called dive bars were pretentious and contrived in their effort to be a dive. Not a beer joint in the lot of them. Then I met a good old girl from the bayous of Louisiana, her small town upbringing echoed my own and we became fast friends. She introduced me to a bar named Club Schmitz. It was a small place off of Harry Hines in Dallas, in a less than affluent part of town. It was like a beacon in the urban wasteland of Dallas. It was a beer joint, dear God, an honest to goodness beer joint, slap dab in the middle of Dallas.

interior2The first time my friend took me in there, I knew I was home. Neon beer lights, tattered and worn booths and stools, wooden paneling, linoleum floors, worn out old pool table, worn out shuffle board table and cold, cold beer in a mug. Greasy cheeseburgers and crispy fries and a patty melt to die for. Not Dallas pretentious bar food. But real bar food served in a plastic basket with a paper towel liner. My heart was full. The wait staff was friendly and welcoming.  Most all of them had worked there for 30 something years. I spent many weekend nights at Club Schmitz amongst a friendly crowd of folks from every walk of life. There were, executives, blue collar workers, college students. truck drivers, families, lawyers, bankers, office workers, we all basked under those neon beer lights.

club schmitzNow, sadly, Club Schmitz is closing. May 31st will be their last day. The owners had held out from selling the property to DART and many other development companies that sought to buy that tiny piece of  prime property. It has now been sold to RaceTrack and the club will be torn down to make way for more gas pumps. Maybe the owners finally got an offer they couldn’t refuse.

68 years of history and existence dies when they tear the club down. This club used to be on the outskirts of Dallas, next to Harry Hines, the first belt line around Dallas. When president Kennedy was killed, he was taken to Parkland Hospital just north of the club and many people flocked there to talk and exchange information. Jack Ruby was reported to conduct business deals at the club when he didn’t want to be near the prying eyes of Dallas law enforcement.  I still have many friends I met there.

So with it’s closing, so dies THE LAST TRUE BEER JOINT IN DALLAS, a throw back to times gone by. It leaves a hole in my heart.
So if you live in or are near Dallas, please go see this old time beer joint and have a beer and a burger and a good time before it disappears forever.

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3 comments to Readers Write – The Death of the Last Real Old Time Beer Joint in Dallas

  • Nancy Klune

    During the late 70’s to mid 80’s more beer was sold at Club Schmitz than any bar in Dallas. The owner was a decent sort and no one ever gave a single lady a hard time. At least not if they didn’t want to be 86’ed. There was a lot of big money deals made there. Some legal, some not so much.

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  • Yep. Today all the honky-tonks are franchised.

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  • Nancy Klune

    I don’t think Club Schmitz ever qualified as a “honky tonk”. At least not since first went there in 1981. Beer joint, yes.

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