Tel: (956) 233-4600 || Open 7 Days A Week at High Noon || Serving Wine, Beer, Set-Ups
Harley's Community
Little-known bars of respite from standard fare
Rio Living

Along a resaca, deep inside Bayview, zealots practice their ritual.  They consume special foods and drinks, speak a language others don't understand and leave their homes to meet in their temple.

They're a cult, to be sure, but they're not waiting for Armageddon or a trip aboard the alien mothership.

They're waiting for Willie Nelson.

Sit with them a while, and the idea of Nelson paying a visit to the self-proclaimed "Luckenback South" doesn't seem so crazy.

"One of these days, Willie Nelson's bus is going to pull up, I can tell you," said Johnny Paul Nolan, owner of Harley's Country Store and Beer Garden and a longtime local musician.

harley's country store and beer garden

Nelson, who fills concert halls and draws tens of thousands of fans to open fields, seems unlikely to stop unannounced at this resaca watering hole, until you sit down and take in the atmosphere and appreciation for Texas music.  Then you find yourself thinking he really could stop by.

Why wouldn't he?

"It's just a good place to listen to good music and not be near no town, " said Nolan, who opened Harley's in February because he wanted to have a place to listen to live music without having to drive to the island.

In other words, to quote the song that put Luckenback on the map, Nolan wanted to "get back to basics."

Nolan named Harley's after his dog, and if the choice has the added benefit of attracting a certain clientele, then all the better.  "If you were driving a Hog from McAllen and you saw a sign for a place called Harley's, wouldn't you whip in for a beer before you drive the rest of the way?" Nolan asked, apparently sure of the answer before asking the question.

It's hard to figure out what makes Harley's unique.  It could be the free barbecue twice a week or the laid-back, Hill Country ambience.  Perhaps it's the informal jam sessions over guitars and longneck beers.  Or the Harley Davidson motorcycles that part next to tractors, cars, and horses outside.

The former Bayview city dump attracts the well-to-do and good old boys alike, bikers and families.

"It's an anthropological experience, " said Bayview resident Bob McKinney as he sipped a beer.  McKinney, a construction contractor who works on homes at the nearby South Padre Island Golf Course, said he often saw the same people who bought luxury homes he helped build kicking back at Harley's on Friday nights.

Nolan uses his connections from 16 years of playing with local band Valley Express to book Austin acts and others on weekends.  Sundays are for families and jamming, while weekdays are for relaxing.

The ground rules are simple:  No fighting, bring a guitar and check your seriousness at the door.

"I hate for people not to be happy out here," Nolan said. 

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