Happy's Stork Lounge is best left described by the people who know it best. Here are some quotes and images from the divingest dive bar in North Bay Village, the 50 somethin years and running bar and package liquor store between Miami and Miami Beach on the 79th street causeway.
"It's our own little pocket of debauchery here," says local painter and MDC art professor Victor John Gomez. "A vicious, insulting bar. When all the regulars are here it's like one big shit talking party. It's great."
Gomez also says, "There's a strange type of chick that shows up here, and the thing about these girls that come in here and beg for drinks is they ALWAYS ask for a Long Island Iced Tea, I guess they just wanna get right to the point before they get kicked out, so we officially changed the name of that drink to the "wandering whore." You can actually come in here and order that."
Gomez continues, "I was here for 24 hours on my birthday, starting at 5am, they let me roast a whole pig in the parking lot. The first time I came here was 5 years ago. I came in to get a soda and some cold ones, and I came back that night and had a few more, then the next morning, and I've been here ever since."
Chris the Pirate bartender says "During the hurricanes this place is always packed. When Wilma hit, the back door blew off, and the tv came down. That was pretty funny. Our specials really are the draw here. From 11 a.m. til 8 p.m. it's 3 domestic beers or 3 wells for 6 bucks.
I was born in England, raised in Ireland. I been working here about 4 years. One time these 3 or 4 guys were playing against each other at the punching machine. This one guy he just kept hitting it and hitting it, and hitting it til his hand was all torn up and he was getting blood on the pool table. He went to the hospital and had to get stitches."
Bar owner Howard Inerfeld bought the place from original owner "Happy" back around 1993. Howard says "Happy stayed around til we made the last payment on the place, and then 2 months later he died. This place has been here about 50 years, it does okay for itself, pays the bills. It gets busy late at night cause we stay open til 5 a.m. It's just a local, friendly bar, same people everyday, local bar."
Herbie is a regular. He says "I been comin here 30 years. It's a great place, and they let me run a tab if I forget to pay, but you never know, one day I might not wake up and be here. I used to tend bar here too, and after thast I used to stock the place. We used to have some good fights in here. Them was the good old days. I never been in a fight in my life, well I was in Korea, but that was real fighting.
Happy used to sit up there at the end of the bar all day long. He was never in here at night."
The bullet hole through the canvas supposedly came from the gun of an off duty policeman who fired it wild when he was drunk and pissed off at losing a card game, at least that's the story I heard.
They call this guy Mr. Wonderful. He slept on a cardboard out back. He is pictured here leaving Miami for Chicago with nothing but a backpack and a tall can of Natural Ice. He was an awesome old tattooed, tough guy, grouch of a dude who I only spoke to for a couple of minutes. He only agreed to being photographed walking out the door. He said "40 fuckin years I been here, too fuckin long, they'd like to see me get the fuck out of here. Bus be goin to Chicago, haven't been there in a long time, time to go back. I'm gonna bust some ass on the way up there, if I don't go to jail first. I used to be the bartender here, til they caught me stealing, least they said they did."
Here are some links to Happy's Stork in the Miami New Times archives. Venue listing, Best Dive Bar