Iconic Port Aransas watering hole is saved from the waves of change

First opened in 1946, Shorty’s Place is being physically relocated five blocks from current location.

By Jerry Clayton, Texas Public RadioJanuary 30, 2023 9:06 am, ,

From Texas Public Radio:

If you’ve spent any time in Port Aransas on the Texas coast, you’re probably familiar with Shorty’s Place. The iconic bar was opened in 1946.

But redevelopment in the area posed a threat to its future. So, current owner Edwin Myers has taken the bold step to physically move the building five blocks away to keep it from being wiped out of existence.

TPR’s Jerry Clayton spoke with Myers about the decision to move and also about the legacy of Shorty’s Place.

This interview has been edited and condensed for time and clarity.

Jerry Clayton: Where is Shorty’s Place being moved to?

Edwin Myers: We’re moving to 101 Beach Street, right on the main drag, the corner of Hollister and Beach.

What would have happened had you not decided to move the building?

Well, no telling. Somebody else would have taken it over because I had a lease that was through the end of the year, and I was not given anything after that. We were on three year leases, and nothing was guaranteed beyond that.

When I was approached with an opportunity about eight months ago to move Shorty’s to a place where I could have a long term lease, and I felt that was the best opportunity. If I waited around and didn’t get a lease extension, then no telling what happens to Shorty’s.

» SHORTY’S MAKES LIST: New book highlights 12 Texas dive bars – and distinguishes from dumps

Is there a development that’s pushing those older buildings out of that area currently?

The others were offered an extension on their lease, and at the end of their lease they were offered time on their lease. I would expect that at some point it will be redeveloped. Part of it has already been redeveloped.

You’ve obviously spent a lot of money to save this landmark. Do you think it’s going to be worth it?

You know, I haven’t gotten to that point yet. I just know what I’m supposed to do. And what I’m supposed to do is be a good caretaker. Who knows? I might not own Shorty’s for the longest time, but I would like to think that I owned it for the right time.

Courtesy of Edwin Myers

A truck prepares to move part of the building.

In your mind, what is the importance of the legacy of Shorty’s place in Port Aransas?

Shorty’s was a gathering point over the years for lots of people that lived here. [During] the summer season, people come in from out of town and they spend their time here. But when they’re gone, there was still Shorty’s. People would congregate there. I had somebody just today walk up and say, “You know, that payphone was my phone number for six years.”

It got pretty slow in the off season in Port Aransas, and there wasn’t a whole lot going on, but there was always something going on at Shorty’s. … I’d like to think of Shorty’s as being a living piece of history where you can come down and be a part of history.

» GET MORE NEWS FROM AROUND THE STATE: Sign up for our weekly ‘Talk of Texas’ newsletter

Courtesy of Edwin Myers

Edwin Myers, current owner of Shorty's Place.

How does it make you feel to see parts of old Port Aransas stripped away for development?

Some people, they want to tear things down and build something new. And people all across the state of Texas … have formed a relationship with Shorty’s. It’s always been symbolic of Port Aransas. It’s been here since 1946. People come up to me and they’ll say, “hey, you know, I was crawling around on that porch when I was a kid,” and these are people that brought their kids back to crawl around on the porch.

It’s stood the test of time. I put it in a position to be around for a lot longer. Shorty’s is going to be in a different place, but it’s still going to be Shorty’s, and I think that’s a good thing.

If you found the reporting above valuable, please consider making a donation here. Your gift helps pay for everything you find on texasstandard.org and Texas Public Radio. Thanks for donating today.