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Howard’s club H

While most businesses come and go because of hard economic times or failure to gain loyal customers, some businesses thrive and survive throughout the decades as the community around it changes.

Howard’s Club H has one of the most intricate histories in Bowling Green.

In 1928 Fred Howard opened up what originally began as a candy store on the 200th block of Main Street. However, when rumors started circling that it was a speak easy where you could get booze during the prohibition, Howard’s found its success and started serving liquor, wine and beer in 1933.

The college town welcomed Howard’s with open arms and it became very popular as football players and students frequently occupied the new bar. Fred Howard would throw lavish parties for the football team and was their biggest supporter. Because of Howard’s close relationship with the team, the mascot was named after him and is still known today as Freddy Falcon.

According to the history of Howard’s on its Myspace page, Fred Howard sold the business and moved away in 1938. Paul (Red) Williamson took over for the next twenty years and kept the bar well managed. After Williamson passed the bar on to local businessmen it was expanded and although there were many changes, the name remained the same.

Howard’s next big move was to where the Public Library is located today.

Jim Gavarone, current owner of Howard’s, has been running the bar for last 11 years and has been around long enough to know the details about Howard’s history.

‘It was an old building with dirt floors, bean bag chairs and peace signs all over the walls,’ Gavarone said. ‘It was a crazy place where a lot of hippie’s hung out and could grab a drink and listen to live music.’

Howard’s was a music hot spot and hosted many blues legends including Luther Allison and J.B. Hutto.

Howard’s was forced to relocate, once again, to make way for the new Wood County Public Library.

The place across the street was vacant so in 1973 Howard’s moved into its current building that had previously been a home to horses and afterwards a car dealership.

The inside of Howard’s used to be the showroom and the parking lot to the left was the service area with a few garages.

When the car dealership turned into a bar, the windows were boarded up in fear that they would get busted out.

Since 1973 the bar has not changed a bit. It has, of course, been cleaned up but it is still the same old Howard’s.

‘We’ve never been the new bar,’ Gavarone said. ‘We are constantly being pushed down which is a shame because I think what we do here is really unique. It’s easy to throw some lights up and get a DJ but it’s not such an easy chore to put on a show night after night.’

Howard’s hosts local and traveling musicians almost every night of the week.

‘We’ve had all kinds of music and genres play here,’ Gavarone said. ‘We hosted The Ramones in the late 70s, jazz legend John Scofield, Kid Rock when he was a rapper and Fall Out Boy not too long ago. The only genre that is kind of neglected is country.’

Gavarone would like to keep Howard’s the same but economic times are tough and it’s challenging to keep up with expenses. However, the bar flourishes off nostalgia and a good strong drink for a decent price.

‘At least once a week I have someone walk in here with their jaw dropped down to the ground saying how this place hasn’t changed a bit,’ Gavarone said. ‘We get a lot of people that come back and I truly believe it is the best bar in town. I’ve been here for 25 years and when I opened up Spots in ’85 there was nothing downtown and now people are everywhere. There are tattoo parlors, restaurants and bars all over Main Street. A lot of these new developments are masquerading themselves to be a bar but we are the real deal.’

Brathaus is the only other bar that has been in Bowling Green since the mid 70s and, like Howard’s, is still around today.

‘We are the last of two hold outs,’ Gavarone said. ‘Everyone else has come and gone or opened up as different places but Howard’s has been and will be Howard’s forever.’

Howard’s has proven to be immortal and has remained successful for the better part of 80 years.

Howard’s is open everyday all year including Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years from 11 a.m. to 2:30 a.m..

Upcoming shows include The Misfits on Wednesday, October 28, Red Wanting Blue on Friday, October 30 and The Verve Pipe on Saturday, November 21.

Grab a drink at the bar and watch great live music any night of the week. To view the upcoming shows schedule visit www.myspace.com/howardsclubh.

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