Danny Chichester said, not long before his death, there’s only two guys in this town that if you say “Danny and Wally,” everybody knows who you mean.
“How about Wayne?” we said. “He ain’t in the bar business,” said Danny.
The other half of the team everybody knew by first name died Monday. He was 85. Wally Brewer had been sick for some time, but he goes down with a narrowing list of famous bar-restaurant owners in Gold Coast history.
We are going from memory, but Wally showed up in South Florida in the 1960s. We first met him when he had an active downtown place in the mid-70s. It was razed to make room for what is now Fort Lauderdale’s bus terminal. It was popular with government workers. It was close to the state office building, and federal people were often there.
Wally moved up to north Federal Highway near 26th Street. C. 1988. He ran a popular spot there until the early 90s when, anticipating the opening of the Broward Center for the Performing Arts, he opened Wally’s Olde Town Chop House. It was right on the railroad, at 2nd Ave. and 2nd St. At the time it was a distressed neighborhood, a bum in the doorway location. It is now one of the busiest corners in town, across from Tarpon Bend. Wally led the charge to that sector, and we recall him standing outside his place, exclaiming “Bourbon Street, Bourbon Street!” He foresaw that strip becoming a mini-version of the legendary New Orleans entertainment district.
He was a bit ahead of his time, but it did turn out that way. The Olde Town Chop House did a great lunch, particularly with the Blockbuster Entertainment crowd – only a block away at that time. Wayne Huizenga liked Wally, and when the Florida Panthers won their first playoff series, Wayne called long distance to ask him to stay open late so he could bring his Panthers gang there for a midnight celebration. Bob Guerin, one of Wayne’s lieutenants at Blockbuster, recalls helping out in the short-handed kitchen that night.
Wally Brewer eventually sold his place (several times; he had to take it back more than once) and then opened a smaller bar in the Galt Ocean Mile area. It was his last hurrah. An obit has not yet made the paper, but according to his friend, Jim O’Connell (a regular at the chop house) a funeral mass will be held at St. John the Baptist Church in Coral Ridge at 11:30 A.M. Friday.
His friend Danny Chichester had it right. Danny and Wally. Names everybody knew.