The sign imbedded in the waterfront picture window of Howie’s overlooking the lake, reads, "A Classy Establishment Since 1953." That’s not fake news, folks. So it must be a fact because I’ve never heard anyone object or even ask for that window to be replaced.
Howie’s has been as much a part of the Portage Lakes as the waters. Originally, the location was a small bait-shop/grocery store; a stopover for life’s necessities. This could be anything needed quickly, such as milk, bread, butter, etc. As it grew, it eventually morphed into a restaurant/bar in the early 1950s.
For we who call the Portage Lakes home, Howie’s is as near and dear to us as our July Fourth festivities with its boat parades and firework displays. Say the word "Howie’s" and you immediately conjure up images of waterfront picnic tables, numerous lakefront docks with boats, speed lanes, water skiing, ducks to feed regardless of signs prohibiting it, or some of the best hamburgers this side of Hamburg, Germany.
And even though it’s also a bar where you can wet your whistle if you have a hankering, it’s also considered to be a family friendly place where they serve some of the best all-you-can-eat fried fish in the area. It’s where the little ones can run to their hearts delight. That is as long as they’re supervised around the water for their safety. On other days of the week specials still abound. Among them are $5 Monday burgers and $1 off Tuesday tacos; even delicious, mouthwatering, steak tacos.
Howie’s is owned by Eric and Claudia Griffin. They’re the two who personally supervise the menu production under the capable culinary skills of chef Dick Kanatzar. They’re also the husband and wife team who bought this "Classy Establishment" from the previous owner, the legendary Max Guscoff, a diehard Pittsburgh Steeler fan. Some of his customers, though, preferred to think of him as "notorious." But that only happened whenever they’d lose wagers betting against the Pittsburgh Steelers whenever they played the Cleveland Browns. Max would jam the place with patrons, bet the family ranch and twice each year during football season he’d laugh all the way to the bank - or so I’m usually told with a wink of the eye.
I’m reminded, too, how he’d beat me every time those two teams played. Of course, since I can no longer recall those times, they could just be part of all those good natured rumors that circulated around the much beloved Max shortly after he sold Howie’s to the Griffins a number of years ago.
Now poor health has fallen upon Eric, and Claudia has finally graduated with her much coveted PhD. Since they can no longer run the place as a first rate restaurant serving superbly prepared foods, rather than see it go downhill, they decided to auction it off and pray someone who loves the spot will continue it’s reputation as "A Classy Establishment Since 1953."
In many cases, however, rumors abound, especially when there’s little known. In this case I’ll put to rest those rumors that have already sprouted.
First: This is not a sheriff’s sale to satisfy outstanding debts. There is no such claim. It’s simply a rumor.
Secondly: There are no plans to tear down Howie’s and build waterfront condos. It’s simply a rumor.
And thirdly: Dan and Tammy Mundy have no plans to purchase Howie’s and change the name. That is also simply a rumor.
The sale of Howie’s takes place 6 p.m. Sept. 12. The auction, which is absolute, will be conducted by Kiko Auctions. Stop by and watch the proceedings during the passing of this iconic waterfront establishment.
But before you do, stop in once more to enjoy some of the best fried fish and other foods served in in the PLX area.
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