The Sloppy Joe’s of Lake Worth — Harry’s Banana Farm celebrates its anniversary this week

Editor’s note: This story originally published in Oct. of 2014 when Harry’s Banana Farm celebrated the bar’s 60th anniversary.

Lou Destout first walked into this “shot-and-a-beer” bar on Dixie Highway in Lake Worth in the early ’80s.

But that still doesn’t make him an old-timer at Harry’s Banana Farm.

“I know some regulars who have been coming for 40 years,” said Destout.

Judy Fischer figures that over the 32 years she’s worked there, she’s poured beer for four generations of Harry’s customers. Many have become friends.

“I’ve been to plenty of their funerals, but also weddings and baby showers,” she said. “This place has been a second family for me.”

Owner Harry Seifert Jr. has been sidelined by two strokes in recent years.

Destout, who’s known Seifert for three decades, and Fischer, who does the books, are keeping the place going for their friend.

“Judy takes care of the brains and I take care of the b.s.” said Destout, whose main business is renovating and flipping houses.

The bar that Harry’s dad started in 1954 used to be known as Harry’s Open Door Bar. But when local athletic teams wouldn’t accept sponsorship from a bar, Harry Jr. came up with the new moniker.

Penthouse magazine once called this the sleaziest bar in the country, a title worn proudly but which no longer fits after Destout staged a “bar rescue” on the place a few years back.

But not enough for Harry’s to lose its dive-bar charm.

There’s domestic beer, pool, foosball and Speedbump, the black bar cat sleeping on the pool table.

Harry and his customers take care of each other, said Fischer, who’s invited those with no other place to go to her house on Thanksgiving and Christmas. They’ve pooled money to buy a regular’s medical care and cancer drugs. Dug into their pockets for vet care this summer when Speedbump tangled with four dogs.

And each Christmas, they raise $6,000 to $8,000 so Lake Worth elementary schools can buy toys for needy kids.

But Lake Worth residents mostly know Harry’s for the cheeky, decidedly non-PC, can’t-miss sign out front.

A sampling of wit from recent years:

“I taught Christian Grey all that stuff.”

“More people read this sign than your stupid blog.”

“We’ve got beer colder than your ex-wife’s heart.”

The most controversial was one Seifert put up after the 2004-05 hurricanes, when Lake Worth’s electrical plant suffered malfunctions.

“Welcome to Lake Worth: Batteries not included.”

“We got some notoriety from that one,” said Destout.

If $8 pitchers of beer in a smoking-friendly dive are more your style, Harry’s could be your refuge.

Comparing it to a Key West landmark, Destout says, “I always thought of it as the Sloppy Joe’s of Lake Worth.”

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