The History

Hitting the main drag in Gulf Shores, if you can't spot the Pink Pony Pub, you're probably not legal to drive. You see, it's this not-so-large but oh-so-definitely, even defiantly pink pub, with a belly-up to- the-bar pony painted on the outside wall.

It's hot pink, like a Pepto bottle, like fresh bubble gum, like 90 percent of Barbie's wardrobe.

The pinkness is not just in a name. It's kind of a declaration. You are now in the pink throbbing heart of Gulf Shores, old-school and probably forever. The Pink Pony has survived Hurricanes Frederic and Ivan, the rise of condo mania and the shifting sands of spring breakers and family vacationers for more than five decades, and it's not likely to wash, or fade, away any time soon.

If you ever drive down here after a hurricane and don't see the Pink Pony, you won't see anything else here.

It's not a big place, and it's not what you call fancy, but it serves up the kind of seafood and burgers you wouldn’t expect at a beach bar.  Then you wash it down with a frosty beverage.

Which drinks, by the way, they also serve. By night, bands will play “Sweet Home Alabama” just as long and often as you want 'em to, and probably dance alongside you on the slim dance floor.

The Pink Pony Pub is now  a little larger and more dressed up than when it began, but not by a whole lot. As calm as a Gulf Shores night can be now, it was even quieter back in the '50s, home mostly to fishers and those looking for a quieter spot to walk the sugary sands along the Gulf Coast. Nightlife wasn't in big demand in the city of 120 residents, as recorded in 1956. You could drive long miles of beach with no high-rises to block the view, and very little electric light to obscure the night sky.

A pink wooden building went up, probably in 1950, as part of the Calloway family's Seahorse Cottages. The pink square at the foot of the Gulf Shores Pier operated as a 30-by- 30 cafe, bar and baitshop, beginning in 1956.

When his parents bought the cottage business Bruce Mernik, a carpenter by trade, set to work remodeling it into the Pink Pony Pub which opened in February 1956. His mother, Marybelle Mernik, gave it the name, playing off the Seahorse brand.

Befitting quieter times, when Gulf Shores was still mostly a handful of modest homes and fish shacks, it stayed a neighborhood-type bar for over a decade, beckoning visitors with a rosy hue around the stark, simple interior. Then in 1979 Hurricane Frederic, which slammed the Gulf Coast the way Katrina crushed New Orleans, blew away the old wooden pier and the original Pink Pony. This despite a 1957 ordinance, enacted by Gulf Shores one year after incorporation, making it illegal “for any hurricane to enter in, upon, across or over the corporate limits of the Town of Gulf Shores, its police jurisdiction, or the air/space above it.”

The penalty is a fine of $1 to $100, or six months at hard labor. At press time, spokespersons for Frederic, Ivan, Dennis and others offered simply: “no comment.”

But they rebuilt the pub, this time out of sturdier concrete, on concrete bridge pilings. And after no time at all to think about it, they painted the new structure pink. This one stood up through the hard winds of the illegally encroaching hurricanes of Ivan and Dennis , possibly because of the concrete. Maybe because of the layered coats of pink paint.

You can sit indoors at The Pink Pony soaking up the A/C on a sun break, or bask on the weathered wooden decking looking out over the surf, being served at picnic-style tables under beach umbrellas.

Bikinis are always welcome.

Children are always welcome, too, at least until 9 p.m., when live music or Karaoke typically starts on running to closing at 3 a.m. Lunch and dinner are served daily, featuring burgers, fresh Gulf shrimp and oysters, gumbos and other pub foods such as buffalo wings and chicken fingers. And of course there's a full bar including signature specialty drinks.

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We've been surviving hurricanes since 1956