WHERE FRESHNESS AND FRIENDLINESS ARE THE ONLY TWO F’S GIVEN
Words and Photos by Rachel Levy
When thinking of Howley’s, two things come to mind: fresh food and friendly faces. Opened originally in 1950 by Patrick J. Howley, walking into this namesake diner feels like what I imagine a big, warm hug from Patrick himself might be like. Don’t take my word for it, though: some of Howley’s original family members stop by on the weekly, adding to the nostalgia and living history of the space. By combining the hospitality and open-armed policy of an old-school establishment with offbeat, eccentric design details (take, for example, a 6-foot-tall Frankenstein that hangs out in the corner), the place draws in diners of all shapes, sizes and backgrounds looking to kick back with a hot cup of coffee (specifically, SubCulture coffee) and a plate of some seriously good chow.
The difficult choices begin soon after walking in the door when you’re given the task of deciding where to sit. Trying to resist the bright red, ’50s-style swiveling chairs adorning the industrial bar can only be fathomed once the artwork beckons you toward the booths in the back of the joint. Portraits of acclaimed icons like Bill Murray and David Bowie (see: eccentric) by local artist Emmanuel Gonzales adorn the space, making for an alternative, indie vibe that the SubCulture Group, the owners since 2004, have perfected at the other establishments within their slate.
Conflict continues with sight of the craft beer and food menu. Howley’s motto reads
“Cooked in Sight, Must be Right.”
More than a simple rhyme, this slogan represents the promise that everything you’ll be served is made from scratch each day: a point that everyone from the chef to the host takes the time to mention when you walk through the door. The generously diverse menu reflects many of the original items first dreamt up by Patrick upon opening in 1950 and fan favorites include Crab Cakes, Addie’s Beef Brisket and The Reuben. With Acai Bowls and Grilled Veggie Burgers for our vegetarian friends and deli salads and Coney Island Hot Dogs for our traditionalists, this menu will quickly have you planning a few return trips so you don’t risk missing a thing.
Though Howley’s will be turning 73 this summer, the vision for the diner is the same now as it has been for the last nearly three-quarters of a century. It seeks to be the place where people stop in as they come back into town each year for the holidays; the place where diners come to celebrate the good days and to wind down from the bad ones; the place to settle nerves on first dates and share stories on late nights; a place that welcomes anyone and everybody and makes walking through the door feel like walking into your own home.
This feeling that has been cultivated by Howley’s is no fluke. It’s a true warm-heartedness proven by the actions taken during the COVID-19 shutdown when the non-profit Hospitality Helping Hands (H3) was born among the retro booths and industrial stoves. Under the glow of the jukebox and the gaze of Bob Marley, Howley’s fed thousands of people daily during a time when most people were suddenly left food insecure. A place that takes pride in its individuality and work ethic, Howley’s is no cut-and-dry food establishment: it’s a historic cornerstone of West Palm Beach culture and a spot that gets better and better with age.
4700 S. Dixie Highway, West Palm Beach