The space at 5731 Locke Avenue has been a community drinking staple for decades through multiple owners and monikers, and the latest, Whiskey Business, offers an update to the space most recently occupied by the beloved Mule Pub. Things are looking up for the 70-year-old building since veteran bar owners and operators Kevin Dunlap and Josh Campbell have taken over the space.
The duo recently completed an overhaul of the interior that began by knocking down walls that divided the interior and new air conditioning units have been installed to keep the newly open space cool in the brutal Texas summer. New bar tops are made from wood with live edges and the floor has been leveled out to remove the multiple elevations that marked the borders of previous expansions of the building. A fresh coat of paint tops off the interior redesign.
“I know there’s going to be people that are at the least skeptical when they walk in to see what we’ve changed about the place,” Dunlap says. “Other than really cleaning up and fixing some things that customers had complained about, it’s pretty much the same bar.”
Drinks won’t be 7th Street expensive but they won’t be so cheap that you’d question your life choices either. The exception to the rule is a rare $500 bottle of Jack Daniels Sinatra Century that Dunlap acquired, because you really can’t have whiskey in your name without keeping at least a couple specialty spirits. A revolving choice of beers are available on tap, including local craft breweries like Panther Island and some beers will be around $3 during happy hour.
Dunlap says that Whiskey Business will have everything on the wish list for a neighborhood dive bar. Pool tables, karaoke nights, Golden Tee and the occasional live music will keep patrons entertained when they stop by after work. The patio is also going through an overhaul and Whiskey Business will likely be a good place to catch a Dallas Stars games since Dunlap is a devoted fan.
According to Dunlap, the original space was built in the 1942 when Camp Bowie was still a dirt road and the previous landlord originally lived there until converting it into a tea house. Since then at least a half dozen bars have filled the space and added onto the original floorplan according to Dunlap. Names like J Grumbles, Rudy’s, the Reservoir Lounge and the Pig & Whistle have also adorned the marquee above the entrance in the past.
There was a faithful following of the Mule Pub that were upset at the news of the closing after 17 years of business. Some of its customers have been drinking at 5731 Locke Ave. through multiple iterations of the bar. Dunlap’s says his stepfather was of the bar’s parishioners when the drinking age was still 18 and operated under one of the older names and a different owner.
The Mule Pub reportedly closed because of an inability to come to an agreeable lease between the owner, Robbie Turman, and the landlord. Dunlap was able to work it out with the landlord but noted that the Whiskey Business partners are responsible for some non-standard expenses because of the lease.
The Whiskey Business owners are also stakeholders in the metal music venue Rail Club and Campbell is one of the Moon Tower’s owners as well. Campbell and Dunlap decided to the bar will be electively non-smoking.
“A poll said that 84% of people in bars in Fort Worth would prefer for it to be non-smoking anyways,” Dunlap says. “We have a feeling that Fort Worth is going to be non-smoking in the next few years anyway, so we’re just going to go ahead and do it now”