By Mike May
“Cooked in sight, must be right.” That’s the slogan of Howley’s restaurant (4700 South Dixie Highway; 561-833-5691; www.howleyswpb.com) in West Palm Beach, Florida. Founded by Patrick J. Howley in 1950, Palm Beach County residents and visiting tourists have been frequenting Howley’s for breakfast, lunch, and dinner for more than 70 years. While the greater West Palm Beach area has changed, Howley’s has not as it remains in its original location on South Dixie Highway. To this day, Howley’s is a “hip diner slinging comfort chow amid 1950s décor with a pressed-tin ceiling, full bar, and a jukebox.” BTW: The jukebox doesn’t accept quarters, only dollar bills and an app called Touchtunes.
The restaurant’s atmosphere, high-quality food, and commitment to strong customer service is a reflection of Patrick J. Howley’s work ethic, mindset, attitude and approach to life. Today, Howley’s is owned by Rodney Mayo and the Subculture Group took daily control of Howley’s in 2005.
Thankfully, if you didn’t know that Patrick J. Howley had sold the restaurant, you would never know it if you walked in the front door today. Howley left an indelible footprint on the restaurant that remains to this day.
When you visit Howley’s for a meal, the menu has a wide variety of favorites.
“We are definitely known for our crabcakes, easily the best in Palm Beach County; our eggs Howley’s, the crabcake benedict; our crab hash, topped with poached eggs and hollandaise sauce; our house-made corned beef hash, where no can opener is needed because we make it fresh,” said current general manager Jes Hill. “Other great items include the shepherd’s pie, turkey pot pie, the chicken parm, the Addie’s slow-roasted beef brisket, our mahi-mahi sandwich, our pan fried mozzarella, the fried green tomatoes, and our Low Country egg rolls which are pulled pork, cream cheese and collard greens-stuffed egg rolls with a little bit of a gold barbecue kick.”
The high quality of the entrees extends to the dessert menu.
The most popular desserts at Howley’s include the house-made banana banana cream pie, cobbler specials, and the coconut cake, which is provided by Cafe Sweets in nearby Northwood.
Two of the big reasons for Howley’s high-quality food are that no food is pre-packaged and the kitchen staff is top-notch.
“Our food is so wonderful because this is a scratch-made kitchen,” noted Hill. “We use quality ingredients. We have pride in our work. We do not even own a microwave.”
“A good portion of our staff has been here for upwards of 10 years or more. Chef Ernst Alexandre is thrilled when people fall in love with his cooking. If you want to make him blush, tell him how much you love his food! Also, when you visit us in the mornings, you get to watch the fastest egg slingers in Palm Beach County make your pancakes and poach your eggs. Sit at our counter and you will get the whole experience.”
Even though Patrick J. Howley no longer owns and operates Howley’s, the Howley family still has a presence in the restaurant.
“I know some of the original Howley’s family still dines here regularly,” added Hill. “Honestly, if you come in for one breakfast and one dinner, you would probably be sitting next to some of them.”
Two members of the Howley family are Greg Quattlebaum and his wife Julie. Greg is Patrick J. Howley’s grandson. They are regulars at Howley’s.
Greg Quattlebaum is a lifelong patron of Howley’s, as his mother and aunts used to work there as waitresses when they were younger.
Quattlebaum prefers to eat breakfast at Howley’s and he truly enjoys the omelet with blackened shrimp with real crab. For lunch or dinner, he enjoys the French onion soup – served only on Wednesday nights — and the turkey club sandwich, which is made with carved turkey breast.
“My wife Julie and I go to Howley’s for the experience,” said Quattlebaum. “Rodney Mayo, Jessica “Jes” Hill and the Howley’s leadership team have done a wonderful job of creating a unique culture. Much of the staff are loyal, longtime employees and that is very rare in the hospitality world. There is great comfort in seeing so many familiar faces. It speaks volumes to their work culture and that translates directly into a great customer experience.”
According to Hill, having Howley’s as a place to eat is a regular part of the daily diet for many area residents.
“We have guests that not only eat here daily, but some twice a day,” said Hill. “Our guests quickly become our extended family. We have watched their children grow. We know their history. We have celebrated and mourned with them over the years. We took care of some of them during the (COVID) shutdown with thousands of hot meals cooked daily in the Howley’s kitchen.”
Are you ready for Howley’s? The restaurant awaits your arrival. And, don’t forget dollar bills and the Touchtunes app for the jukebox.