While catching up with Paul Smyers, the manager of Houston's newest Little Woodrow's in East Downtown, we hear "No, Hawaii is not a country" over the loud speaker. It's trivia night and the bar is packed with "Geeks Who Drink." Abandoning my team, I step away from the intense competition for a moment to talk to Paul about his bar, what makes a great Manhattan and holistic hangover remedies.
Can you tell us a little about the bar's history? The building has been here for a long time, it's an abandoned body shop, so when we took it over it was just a shell of a building. It was in pretty bad shape. The windows over there are where the garage doors for the service bay used to be and where the bar is located is where they would service cars.
How long have you been here at Little Woodrow's? This bar has been open for about eight months and I've been here that whole time, but I've been working for Little Woodrow's for about seven years. I moved from Austin about a year ago to open this location.
How would you describe the crowd and the bar's aesthetic? We're pretty regulars-driven. I would say three-fourths of the people we see are here three or four times a week. It's a pretty eclectic mix. We get a handful of professionals that bought condos over here, a lot of people from the Med Center, a lot of UH students that live in lofts downtown, people from all over. It's a pretty laid-back crowd that just wants to hang out and have a cold beer. As far as the bar itself, it's like a broken-in beer bar on steroids. We're going for the ice house feel that all the Little Woodrow's have, but everything here is nice and new, so it's like Woodrow's 2.0.
What are some other jobs you've held besides tending bar? Before managing this one, I've done pretty much everything in the service industry. I spent a summer trying to con people into letting me fix rock chips on their windshields and that sucked.
What do you love about bartending in Houston? People here are pretty laid-back, especially this part of town. It's not pretentious. Before I moved I had misconceptions about Houston, but I've really enjoyed it. There are a lot of cool parts of the city and a lot of cool people. It's a good crowd.
Any cocktail you pride yourself on? I make a really good Manhattan. I use cherry juice, not grenadine, so it's got more of a natural sweetness.
Do you have a recommended hangover remedy? A bottle of Kickin' Kombucha and a 20-minute power nap.
Kickin' what? Kambucha- it's a kind of tea that's been used in holistic medicine for a long time. A guy in Houston just started his own line of teas called Kickin' Kombucha. It has probiotics, gives you a natural energy buzz and it just knocks a hangover out.
When you're not here, where do you go to get a drink? I live in the Heights so I go to Petrol Station, Shiloh Club and Alice's Tall Texan.
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***Wildcard from the loaded questions box: What would you like your famous last words to be? "Son of a bitch...."
Little Woodrow's is located at 2019 Walker Street, a stone's throw from the Dynamo Stadium, Warehouse Live, and George R. Brown. Sports fan? There are 50-inch plasmas throughout, a full bar and 35 beers on tap. Know a little about a lot? Get a team together for trivia every Tuesday at 8 p.m. and make Trebek proud.