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Dive Bar Book Maps Mynar's Bar | Access Waco

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Magazine writers and photographers walk into a bar, and if that bar happens to be Mynar’s Bar in the West, the punchline is the book.

Mynar’s Bar has held the corner of Oak and Roberts Streets in downtown West for over a century and is part of a 13-bar tour featured in the new book Texas Dive: The Enduring Neighborhood Bars of the Lone Star State. I’m stopping by “

Anthony Head, a writer and former editor of Bon Appetit magazine, wrote a book with photographer Kirk Meddle about nine years ago when he and Meddle went out for a beer on the Interstate in the West. He said he was inspired when he stopped 35.

They found Mynar’s, walked through the screen door and solid door into the mid-afternoon shadows, and across the wooden floors to the bar. There, Linda McWilliams, her friendly partner, cigarette in hand, chewing on a can of Dr. Pepper, asked two strangers. finished? “

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For Head, who has written about numerous restaurants, wineries, bars and eateries in her career, her question embodied an instant, or perhaps a sensibility. It’s the type of bar that grows community within a community. “I turned to Kirk and said, ‘I need to write a book,'” he recalled.

With a new book largely researched and written in 2018, Head and Meddle revisited the 13 bars featured in the book over the summer in a unique blend of book tours and live concerts. . They said on Wednesday he visited Mynar’s Bar, September 21st Austin musician Sid Grimes brings the music. This visit will be bittersweet because its muse, McWilliams, passed away last year. Speaking from San Marcos in a recent phone interview, Head said part of Wednesday’s event will honor McWilliams, who co-owned and ran the bar with his brother Rick for nearly 20 years.

The term ‘dive bar’ may seem negative, but it evokes dark interiors, the smell of stale beer and cigarette smoke, and a vague sense of menace, but it’s the practicality that Head has in his book. “There is no legal definition for a dive bar, so we are free to come up with our own definition,” he said.

His definition centers around a community distilled over time and flavored by patrons. “They treat the bar as a social club and protect it in return,” Head said. “That bar has had conversations going from customer to customer, night to night for decades.”

Head said many, if not most, bars in rural Texas could be defined, and for comparison’s sake, he limited himself to bars that had at least another bar in the area, and found that the study found about Visit 30 bars and cut at least 3 times each for the book.

Mynar’s has dive bars in Fort Worth, Houston, San Marcos, Dallas, College Station, Port Aransas, Galveston and Austin.

Rick, 61, gives a good-natured shrug when asked about his reaction to Minor’s role in the book. It’s good to be noticed, and while it may steer out-of-town visitors your way, Mynar’s has always focused on both the biological and the family made up of bar regulars. I was.

It has been part of the family ever since my grandparents John and Rose opened it as a grocery store in 1923 and Rose turned it into a bar after John’s death. Rick and Linda’s father, son Felix, took over the business from his mother in 1977 and ran it six days a week for 33 years, farming and ranching, closing every night, Rick recalls. He died 18 years before him, but his memory still remains in his Mynar memory. Linda and Rick bought the bar from his brother in 2003, the year before Felix died. Now, after McWilliams’ death, “It leaves me,” said Rick.

The bar hasn’t changed much since Rick’s boyhood, when he paid a whopping 50 cents a day to clean his wooden floors. There are now several TV screens, some video slot machines, a side room for overflow people and special activities, and a wall opening to reveal a pool table in the back.

There are two places that speak to Rick the most. A worn spot on the floor at the end of the bar where his mother used to sit on a stool. The black band that runs along the back edge of the bar counter has been rubbed into place from years of Felix use. With a can of beer in hand, he spins a story while chatting with customers.

Neon signs of mainstream beer brands shine on the back wall. Above, dozens of dollar bills hang from the bar’s wooden ceiling. It’s a relic of the game where the customer threads a bill through a tack, wraps it in a coin for weight, and tosses it up and sticks it together. Gone is the panel near the dilapidated cash register in the bar. This is the “loser’s wall” where unsuccessful people ended up posting bills.

All of which, of course, make up Mynar’s Mynar’s. Rick and his fiancé Michelle Carroll now run the bar after McWilliams died last year.

Mynar’s customers change over time. The jukebox is not on as the afternoon patrons are there mainly for beer and conversation. Around 7pm, the young night crowd drops in and the music kicks in as the bar buzzes. Weekends see more out-of-town visitors as patrons stay home, and on Monday the cycle begins again.

Norman Payne, 75, pinned a bottle of Miller Light to the back table during his afternoon visit and considers himself a regular. “I’m first shift,” he explained. He became a regular stopover after working in Hillsborough decades ago, and he befriended Felix, and then Linda and Rick after Felix died 18 years ago. “(Rick’s) dad was a good storyteller,” he said, smiling at the memory.

Payne spends many afternoons at Miners as a retiree, but when he does, he keeps an eye on the clock. “My wife prepares dinner between 5:30 and 6:00 pm and I don’t want to miss it,” he explained with a twinkle. His time at Mynar’s provides a break from the routine at home. “We’re in line all day at home, but we need time away from each other.”

On the wall behind Mynar is a full size painting of the late James Hand by Denver Koon. James Hand was a famous singer-songwriter from the West, and often he played in Mynar’s band. Live music on Friday and Saturday nights is part of the bar scene.

Veteran West Area country musician Joel Wood is one of the regulars who plays for the regulars and always feels welcome when he plays Mynar. “They’re normal, everyday people. There’s a down-to-earth vibe and they like the old-school country music I play,” he said. Wood also throws in a hand song or two when performing there. There are usually several people who can recognize the song.

“It’s kind of like ‘their place,'” said Wood. “Everybody knows. There are no strangers.”