By Kelly Baughman
When you think of the history of Gulf Shores, The Pink Pony should certainly come to mind. You can’t help noticing this historic landmark popping up from the sand like the cheerful pink beacon full of refreshments and fun it is. As the Pink Pony says of itself, “It’s hot pink, like a Pepto bottle, like fresh bubble gum, like 90 percent of Barbie’s wardrobe,” there’s so much more to this local gem than just its unique look.
For more than 50 years, the Pink Pony has served up one of a kind seafood, burgers, frozen drinks, and live entertainment for families, spring breakers, and locals alike. Having weathered numerous storms, held its ground through the high rise boom, and surviving the politics of a growing and changing city that sometimes come harder than the storm surges themselves, The Pink Pony Pub has definitely become a permanent dot on the map.
Originally built as a café, bar, and bait shop operating as part of the Calloway family’s Seahorse Cottages in the early 50’s, back then Gulf Shores had just 120 recorded residents. The bar served as a local hangout for the humble and hard-working people of the sleepy little fishing village for years.
It wasn’t until Bruce Mernik’s parents bought the property that The Pink Pony really came to life. A carpenter by trade, Mernik transformed the simple pink shack into a unique little bar his mother lovingly named The Pink Pony as a play on the Seahorse Cottages theme. For years, the pub remained a successful and popular hot spot among locals along the beach.
When Hurricane Frederic slammed into town in 1979 leveling everything in its path despite an ordinance passed by Gulf Shores in 1957 outlawing “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” (this is real people….look it up), the original Pink Pony Pub was destroyed.
Knowing that the Pink Pony couldn’t die there on the beach in 1979, this time it was rebuilt on pilings with a concrete structure, and of course, painted that signature color of pink. Since the rebuild, ‘The Pony’ as it is lovingly referred to by locals, has withstood Erin, Ivan, Dennis, and other numerous storms that have pounded the area over the years.
Some say that’s thanks to the concrete construction, but others say it’s because The Pony will outlive us all. Gulf Shores native, Jeff Holmes said of the beloved honky tonk, “She’s just too stubborn to go down at this point. She knows we all love her too much. What would Gulf Shores be without that beautiful horse sipping her cocktail on the wall?”
Whether you’re looking for a place to bring the whole family for a delicious lunch, looking for a place to enjoy a fabulous cocktail right on the beach, or ready to sing along to the live band or star in your own show on karaoke night, The Pink Pony Pub is the place. Wrap all that entertainment up in a package as rich in local history that’s older than the city of Gulf Shores itself, and you’ve got something special.
To check out The Pink Pony Pub for yourself, head over to 137 E Gulf PL in Gulf Shores, or just look for the Pink building….you can’t miss it!