The Bar Tab 

Tucker’s Kozy Korner
1338 E. Houston
Top shelf: circa $4.25
Tucker’s Kozy Korner is back. For those who already know the bar, its return should feel seamless. For those who have never been, joy awaits.

Tucker’s Kozy Korner is located at the corner of East Houston and Cherry streets on the near East Side, where it’s legendary in history and culture. `See the Current’s Last Call 2006 for a story about Tucker’s history and its rebirth.` Civic leaders, dignitaries, and politicians have been known to frequent the bar and restaurant through the years. Though I never went to Tucker’s back in the heyday, the Tucker’s of today seems to have preserved this tradition.

Local developer Mitch Meyer bought Tucker’s and is responsible for the renovation. Current readers likely know of Meyer for his proposed downtown grocery store, Hippo’s (scheduled to open in April), as well La Cascada, the luxury high-rise development on the San Antonio River on the south end of downtown. That Meyer bought Tucker’s not to level it but to return it to its original glory is unusual and commendable.

We went on a Monday and the parking lot was fairly packed. Noticing more than a few luxury cars (Mercedes Benz, Jaguar, Cadillac … ), I began to worry that we were under-dressed in jeans, a T-shirt, and a hoodie. I was right.

We definitely were not Tucker’s average clientele. Most of the patrons were professionals from the Eastside community, dressed well, looking sharp, and in their mid-’50s. But there was no proverbial “record scratch” as we entered (as in that scene from Animal House at the bar with Otis Day and the Knights). The feel was warm and welcoming. The bar was really too good to be true. It felt like we had walked back into the 1960s or onto a Hollywood set — a glass brick base for the bar, a track light casting a shadow of bamboo against a wall outside the bathroom, a jukebox filled with smooth R&B; the list goes on …

I ordered a Jack and Coke, which I never drink, but it was the first thing that came to mind. Luckily, they were out of Jack Daniels and I substituted Maker’s Mark. I joked that Maker’s Mark was too good for Coke; the bartender must have agreed, for he made a Maker’s on the rocks, which was much better. I appreciated that. My friend ordered a Malibu with cranberry juice. Mine hit the spot. Her drink was delicious. The price for the two was $8.50, normal for top shelf, even a bit less than I expected.

The space is small, which helps create the koziness. We sat at a tiny table underneath a portrait of a man we presumed to be Tucker. We only stayed for one round, a bit embarrassed to be under-dressed. Next time we’ll come suited up to fully enjoy the relaxed sophistication.

— Mark Jones



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