Man About Town

EAT | DRINK
2017
July/August

The Happy Mayor, The Happy Man, The Awesome Innovation Pipeline

The Mayor’s Tyler Innovation Pipeline (TIP) has been open for business about two months and a celebration was in order.  So, “the Man”, a TIP board member, threw’em a party.  The perfect place for a party is Happy’s Fish House where the motto is “Be Happy, Get Happy’s.” We did just that and got plum happy!

Happy’s Fish House is a creation of Tyler’s own innovative entrepreneur, Andy Gugar.  Andy is the “poster child” of Success for Eateries in Texas and Louisiana.  He is legendary for his Tyler creation of Hickory Fare Bar-B-Que and Papacita’s in the 1970’s and Mercado’s on the Loop in 1986.  His family dinning empire expanded from his first Pasado’s on 5th St. to nearly 20 prosperous restaurants.

Happy’s is Andy’s first step into the seafood side of culinary.  After a year of visiting, studying and testing fine seafood in Florida and Louisiana, he developed his concept and created every item on the menu for opening Happy’s in 2015.  Now, for three years running, Happy’s has been awarded “Best Seafood in Tyler” … and that’s something to be happy about.

What sets the Happy’s experience apart is friendly customer service, well trained staff (four weeks of in-house training required); fresh, fine quality food cooked to order from scratch; extensive menu (over 200 items) and a nice selection of beers, wine, and liquor.  Add to these A+ features, a colorfully festive, casual New Orleans atmosphere and you have Mardi Gras right here in “River City”!

The atmosphere, like the recipes, is the sole product of Andy Gugar’s creative imagination and handiwork.  The place is decked out with large full wall Mardi Gras murals in bright colors, wood plank “sittin’ on the dock of the bay” looking floors and plenty of beach relics and motor boats are hanging from the walls and ceilings.  A floor to ceiling side of an old sailing ship provides the backdrop for the reservation desk at the entry.

So, how is the seafood prepared?  You choose:  fried, steamed, Cajun, grilled, boiled smoked, broiled, or raw.  From the sea options are catfish, whitefish, shrimp, oysters, clams, salmon and Po’boy sandwiches.  And guess what, they have the single best home cooked breakfast ever…and you can order it all day long!!

Happy’s has party rooms, does catering and is open Sunday-Thursday, 6:30 a.m.-9:30 p.m. Friday-Saturday 6:30 a.m.-10:00 p.m.  Contact General Manager, Kevin Aburayan for special arrangements at 903.944.7921 or visit at 2202 E. 5th Street, Tyler, TX. 

Our group of eleven showed up at 6:00 on a Monday night.  The party included City Council members and staff, Innovation Pipeline Board and steering committee members.  It’s a fun group of folks and Kevin, along with wait staffer Lloyd, were “loaded for bear” to blow the party over the top for us.

The festivities started with rounds of the drink of choice for all with beer, cocktails, wine, cokes, tea and water.  Mayor Heines headed up one end of our table and Councilman Bob Westbrook held forth at the other.  The “Man” bounced back and forth keeping our city royalty happy … at Happy’s.

Then, Kevin and Lloyd started the feast a-comin’!  It was a feast fit for the best!  We were served up samples of the best items on the menu including an array of appetizers and a host of entrees. 
There were twenty-two over flowing dishes throughout the night with fried green tomatoes, oysters on the shell, and seafood fondue as starters.  Then they rolled out seafood platters of all sorts and many of the favorite breakfast items (You must try breakfast).  The “Man’s” top choice of the night was the shrimp and grits.  I could eat it every day!  The crowning blow was the desserts, which are all made from scratch in-house.  We wolfed down "to die for" bread pudding, key lime pie, chocolate brownies and praline cheesecake.

At evening’s end, the Tyler Innovation Pipeline Team “got Happy at Happy’s”.  Yes sir, breakfast, lunch, or dinner Happy’s is a winner.  If ya try it once, you’ll be back.  I promise.

So, if you’re out and about, look for us, we’ll be about town.

Photos by: Heath Bickerstaff

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