Peter Stanislaus, a man holding a pool cue wearing The Hynes Whiskey

To Bee or Not To Bee: The Fall and Rise of an Iconic Bar

During the early uncertainty of a pandemic, Pouring With Heart faced two choices: start alone, or continue to let a great bar sit dormant.

At the helm of an ongoing project was Peter Stanislaus, whose job at Pouring With Heart cultivates communities and careers through thoughtful bars. At the center of his decision was King Bee, an iconic and historic blues bar on Austin's East Side that Pouring With Heart had acquired in 2019. King Bee was once a green book hotel, has lived many lives as a music venue and bar, but in the last five years fell upon harder times.

Watch Peter's interview at the bar

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While whiskey concepts and designed-from-scratch bars are fun for Peter, it's spots like King Bee that hit a special nerve for him. COVID dealt a blow to Pouring With Heart and King Bee alike; staffing was forced to the sidelines and King Bee, about as indoors a place as you'll find, suddenly turned from a local haunt to a ghost town due to the state of the world. Quitting would've been the easy way, and according to Peter likely the more sensible one.

"Frankly, building this bar when we did, was not the time to do it," Peter said. "We should've waited." 

Instead, Peter forged ahead into the great unknown with his then-pregnant wife, and a drastically pared-down staff situation. The mission was always clear to Peter: to give King Bee some love and naturally integrate things to the point where someone could walk in and slide into a photo booth, play pool, or buy a pack of smokes--all new additions--and feel like they've always been there. Everything at the bar needed to feel familiar.

"The thought going through my mind throughout this whole project was, 'don't ruin it,'" Peter described.

Peter was determined to pour his own heart into the bar. If King Bee could make it, he half-joked, then there was hope for anything. Instead of fading away, King Bee galvanized the neighborhood and became a beacon of hope, as well as a tiny glimpse into the other side of the pandemic.

Today, music and conversation regularly fill the bar late into the night, anchored by The Big Easy food truck on the patio. The bar lives its motto daily: "Only Good Times". The mission is never fully complete, but as long as the hive is buzzing, Peter knows there's honey inside. And when his son, Ozzie, comes of age, he and his dad can both raise a glass to the bar that they spent a loving amount of time in, all because Peter and Pouring With Heart knew it was worth fighting for, while the odds were stacked against them.

From Bar to Boots: Shop The Look

Peter is wearing The Hynes Whiskey in his interview, our comfortable leather Chukka boot that also comes in Black and Brown. The Hynes fits true-to-size, and if you're in-between sizes, we suggest sizing down. The Hynes is made from the softest leather we have ever used, an Argentinian leather called Neymar. Like the majority of our footwear, The Hynes is fully resoleable, has a supremely comfortable footbed, and is built to last. For leather care, we recommend Blackrock Leather 'N Rich for conditioning, Pure Polish light brown cream polish for color, and Otter Wax leather sealant to seal out moisture.

Peter is wearing Nudie jeans, a trusty 10-year-old Patagonia button down shirt, and HELM socks.

Have a question about footwear or care? we're always here:

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