A bit of Port Aransas history has moved—literally.
The final section of Shorty’s, the beach city’s oldest bar, was towed late last month from its historic location next to Port A’s marina to a vacant lot a half-mile away. There, it is being reassembled, with the goal of reopening this summer.
Edwin Myers, who bought Shorty’s in 2012 from the family who operated it since 1946, decided to preserve the rickety structure after learning its surface lease would not be renewed. Before that, Shorty’s survived multiple hurricanes, including Harvey in 2017, and even the on-site homicide in 1978 of its original proprietor, Gladys Marie “Shorty” Fowler.
“New beginning!!!” exclaimed a Shorty’s social media follower about this year’s relocation. “While we are sad for all the good times we had there, we can be happy that Edwin is moving it to give us all new memories and that it is not being destroyed.”
Shorty’s closed last year on Nov. 1 with a bash that brought together longtime patrons, musicians who performed there in recent years, and Fowler’s great grandson. One band, Selfie, was led by Chris Jordan, a contractor and friend of Myers who is overseeing Shorty’s dismantling, move, and restoration.
“We have to put it back together; we cut it clean in half,” says Jordan of next steps. “It’s pretty tricky. You can’t just put a couple of nails in it and call it a day.”
Shorty’s rear section rolled down two-lane streets to the vacant lot at the intersection of Alister and Beach streets in the heart of Port Aransas on Jan. 26. Ironically, the lot became available after dining institution Castaways was battered by Harvey, necessitating its reopening in a building across the street that survived.
Then, on Sunday morning, Jan. 29, Shorty’s familiar front section, including its porch and signage, eased off its pylons onto a tractor-trailer rig for its final journey. A crowd of a couple hundred, according to one estimate, had gathered when Jordan gave a signal to the rig’s driver. “He pulls on his airhorn and gives it a couple of ceremonial blasts, and everyone is cheering,” Jordan says. “We are moving at a snail’s pace and we’re off.”
Myers rode inside the structure, leading a friend who videoed the event to post: “Some folks take the taxi home from the bar, but it looks like Edwin Myers has taken the bar home.”
At the new location, Shorty’s will join what is becoming an unofficial Port Aransas entertainment district on Beach Street, already home to popular venues such as Venetian Hot Plate, the Crazy Cajun, La Playa Mexican Grille, and MacDaddy’s Family Kitchen.
Shorty’s will have a newly laid foundation and other structural improvements—“fixing all parts of the building that were sort of falling down,” says contractor Jordan—but its customer-facing elements, like the decades-old front room bar, will remain.
Myers stipulated the building will continue to be unairconditioned. “We want to be consistent with the spirit of Shorty’s and we have positioned the building in a way that will benefit from the prevailing winds in Port Aransas,” he explains.
Also preserved is Shorty’s memorable collection of gimme caps, tacked to a ceiling through the years that remained intact during Harvey. A few were removed and put in storage when the original structure was cut in half, waiting to be refastened. “When we reopen, it would tickle me to death if they would say they couldn’t tell they cut this thing in half and moved it down the road,” Jordan says.
The future from owner Myers’ perspective: “I’ll just sit back and let Shorty’s be Shorty’s…Shorty’s is a living piece of history.”