The High Point Pub is 70! That beloved little bar of 25 seats has been around since 1947. To celebrate, they threw a raucous party on December 9th, and I was there with a motley crew of regulars, a lot of food, and all the keg beer my heart desired. The Pub hasn't changed since my last visit; it's still an oasis of beer and camaraderie nestled in the middle of a pristine neighborhood. It is still flanked by a pizza place and a barber shop, just steps from a grocery and a dentist, an inviting place for the folks nearby to escape the monotony of yard work and driving slowly down residential streets (that's what lovely little neighborhoods like High Point are known for, right?). It's a place to tie one on with the locals, hear some tales, and smoke some cigars, just the way it has been for 70 years.
High Point Pub is what happens when a group of friends decide to buy their own favorite watering hole. The current ownership group has been in place since the early '90s and is comprised of six hooligans: David Hill Sr., Curt Carie, Amy Friedman, Jerry Groh, Rick Pryzma, and Gail Karr. They've preserved the Pub's stellar reputation and even amplified it; for a place so small, it's a wonder they can cram that many people and bottles of beer in there.
The Pub hosts a series of events every year, including a Mardi Gras party the weekend before Fat Tuesday, which includes a small parade of antique motorcycles and riding lawnmowers (anyone who's anti-riding lawnmower in a parade can go kick rocks). They also have the Pub Triathlon, comprised of shuffleboard, darts, and a mystery event. And during the NFL playoffs, they'll have their annual chili cook-off. Last year, there were 27 different types of chili. The Flyer's own Michael Donahue has even been a judge in the past, and there is a certain freelance writer who would love to be his date if he is invited back to judge this year.
"Has anyone told you about the dead pecker table yet?" This is Amy, another part owner, who has been coming to the Pub since 1988. I made some lame joke about my dating life, but then she motioned to the former location of said dead pecker table, where a group of septuagenarians used to hang out as they waited for their turn at the barber shop next door. The barber would bang on the wall to let them know when he was ready for another of them to come over and get their nose hairs trimmed. Fun fact: There also used to be a secret door in the wall to pass beers from the bar to the barber shop, which is probably why your grandpa ended up with that sweet fade in 1971.
One owner, Jerry, grew up in Milwaukee, where every neighborhood had a bar like the High Point Pub. When he discovered the Pub here in Memphis, he knew he was home. "It's like Cheers," he says, which is the best compliment you can give a bar, as any of us with a favorite haunt know. The bar has 57 (or 58, depending on who you ask) beers available, which is quite an assortment for a bar the size of a living room.
A few weeks ago, I was hanging out at Lefty's on the recommendation of a few friends, and I wrote that the ashes of a deceased regular, Kathy, were in a Miller Lite bottle behind the bar. Imagine my delight when I met Leslie Sexton, a Pub patron and best friend of our departed Kathy. They had been best friends for years, owing to the discovery that they both had webbed feet. A man walks past as Leslie is telling this story. "Don't believe a word she says." Even Leanna, Leslie's partner, is rolling her eyes. Leslie, not one to take this abuse, removes her shoes to reveal her webbed feet. This was a first. If I die tomorrow, I will die at peace, having seen Kathy's ashes in a beer bottle and her best friend's webbed feet.
As for everyone else, don't die without visiting the Pub. It is a gem, full of great people and great stories. It's made it 70 years; here's to hoping it makes it many, many more.