The T-shirt I woke up in on Sunday morning came from Moon Tower Inn, but not in typical fashion. This isn't one of their "Come and Take It" or "UGHDK" shirts. The tattered sleeveless Misfits shirt once belonged to former Moon Tower bartender Bryan Jackson. He and I were so fond of each others' shirts late one night -- mine a Bad Brains T, his a sleeveless Misfits shirt -- at the East End bar, we decided to trade shirts, thinking nothing of pulling them off and throwing each to the other.
After teasing Facebook fans and members of the press for what seemed like years, Moon Tower Inn took to social media at 4 a.m. Sunday morning to send a series of status updates to announce that the icehouse would be open at 5 p.m. that afternoon. (Food service will start up again this Wednesday.)
Amusing shirt coincidence aside, it was pitch perfect that Moon Tower Inn ended its 15 month hiatus yesterday amid a bitter cold snap and while much of the city was caught up in the fanfare of the Texans playoff push.
The harsh weather mirrored the winter climate during Moontower's first few months in business back in late 2010. The fact the open air patio offered very little in the way of protection from the elements rarely dissuaded patrons from showing up en masse much the way they did on Sunday.
And while almost every other bar in town had its television sets dialed to the game, Moon Tower remained oblivious Fitting for a bar whose owners when once asked by a fan on Facebook to put in big screen TVs for sports, not so kindly told the gentlemen to go to a Buffalo Wild Wings if he wanted to watch TV.
That attitude and overall roughness around the edges remains, I'm happy to report. While owners Evan Shannon and Brandon Young tore most of the original building down and replaced it with modified shipping containers, the bar looks strikingly similar to the original setup. The canteen-style ordering window is in virtually the same location as it was before the original structure was torn down in 2012.
Even the patio and arbor are set up in virtually the same way despite receiving a thorough reworking (including new integrated lighting and paint), although the Come and Take It mural is still absent. The bathrooms, now cleanly finished in subway tile, are in the exact same spot the old unisex toilet stood. (That's the indoor bathroom, not the port-a-potty mind you.)
There's a sense that was one of the main intentions during the remodel: to defiantly remain exactly the same, down to the soggy lawn and mismatched picnic tables. As a crowd lined up at 4:45 p.m. to welcome Moon Tower back to 3004 Canal Street, owner Young stood at the gate with a sly smile. Stacked behind him were dozens of cases of 64-ounce growlers -- roughly 400 in total -- given away for free to fans arriving early and destined to be filled at the bar's 66 new tap lines.
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Despite the cold, I couldn't help but sport that sleeveless Misfits shirt under my sweater yesterday evening as a fond and fitting "welcome back" to the old Moon Tower Inn, same as it ever was.