The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

SMU students gather around a bucket of markers to write an encouraging note to put in “Welcome to the Shelter” kits at event in mid-April on SMU’s campus.
Dallas homeless recovery center, The Bridge, is a home
Morgan Shiver, Contributor • June 20, 2024

Milo’s proves that a bar can stand the test of time

The small building on the corner of Greenville Avenue and SMU Boulevard doesn’t particularly stand out among the surrounding edifices and is somewhat hidden by foliage, making it almost unnoticeable. This building, with its pink and blue peeling paint on the wood panes, might not look like much on the outside, but every night, it is packed with people of all ages.

This building is the home of Milo Butterfinger’s, or Milo’s, as SMU students commonly know it. Along with Barley House and The Green Elephant, Milo’s is a staple neighborhood bar to SMU students and other patrons in the Dallas area. The bar’s eccentric atmosphere, friendly employees and cheap beer makes Milo’s a standout bar where SMU students often go for a relaxing night out.

A group of about 10 girls walk toward the entrance of Milo’s on SMU Boulevard. As they near the front, they pull out their IDs and give them to Pat, who normally is dressed in a Hawaiian shirt, to be scanned. One of the girls is dressed in a sash and wears a birthday crown.

“Milo Butterfinger’s was the only place I wanted to celebrate my 21st birthday right at midnight. My friends and I love this bar, especially for celebrating the big 2-1! The ID scanner is even programmed to say ‘Happy Birthday!’” Courtney Quinn, a senior at SMU, said.

Quinn and her friends wander into the bar filled with SMU students and older Milo’s patrons. They grab a seat at a large circular booth, and order a round of drinks and some mozzarella sticks. Soon they wander to one of the many dart boards and begin challenging each other to games of darts while people around them play pool, foosball, and arcade games.

Milo Butterfinger’s was an idea formed in 1971 by four friends who wanted to open up a bar. The origin of the name Milo Butterfinger’s is a bit of a mystery because according to Tommy Donahue, the manager of Milo’s, the legend is not set in stone.

“Two of the original owners were laughing about someone named Milo; he had screwed something up that particular day. One of the guys was eating a Butterfinger bar,” Donahue said. The combination of Milo and the Butterfinger bar formed the name of the popular bar, according to Donahue.

When three of the original owners decided to drop the bar, Ned Smith became the sole owner of the establishment and moved the location from its original spot on Skillman Street and Abrams Street to Greenville Avenue. Because the owners refused to give up ownership of the name Milo Butterfinger’s, Smith renamed the bar Dr. Beard’s Leather Ball Saloon, because of the frequent traffic of rugby players who would come after games and practices. Smith came to an agreement with the past owners around 1980 to get the name back to Milo Butterfinger’s.

It was late 1982 when Milo’s moved to its present day location on the corner of Greenville Avenue and SMU Boulevard. Since then, Milo’s has stayed in the original building that was built in the ‘70s, and hasn’t done too many updates, which is part of the allure.

“The atmosphere has a lot of charm. This starts when you walk up to the pink and blue building with the Christmas lights hanging. When you walk in, Pat, who resembles the dude from the movie The Big Lebowski, and is dressed in a Hawaiian shirt, greets you. He checks your ID and is always very friendly. Once you are inside, the décor adds to the character of the bar,” Michael Marabito, an SMU senior, said.

The inside of Milo’s is decked out in sports memorabilia, beer signs and random knick-knacks. The front of the bar is designed for people who would rather eat, drink and watch sports in a quieter area, with booths and tables tucked away in the walls. The rest of the bar is full of pool tables, foosball tables, dartboards, and arcade games.

“We think that there is something here for everybody,” Tom Willard, Milo’s general manager, said. Willard has been running Milo’s since 1980, and remembers back to when they hosted events for SMU sororities in the ‘80s.

A lot of the staff has been working at Milo’s for years like Willard. According to Donahue, one of the attractions of Milo’s is for customers to come back and see familiar faces working even after years.

“Once you get here, you never leave,” Donahue said. This seems to be true for both the staff of Milo’s and its patrons.

Jim Depetris grew up in Highland Park, and started going to Milo’s when he was able to drink. The SMU alum frequented Milo’s all throughout college, is now in his 50s, and can still can be found at a table in the front for after-work drinks.

According to Depetris, because of his loyalty to Milo’s, his two daughters, who are now in their early 20s, go to the bar often as well. In fact, the three of them will still meet up at Milo’s every once in a while and play pool.

Loyal customers don’t give up their loyalty after they leave Dallas either. Willard remembers back to homecoming this year, when there was a line just to get in to Milo’s that Saturday.

“There was a girl who graduated in ’86 here on homecoming. Eric Dickerson came here. A lot of alum come back and visit,” Willard said.

Milo’s ability to attract loyal customers doesn’t come from any flashy advertising. It simply comes from word of mouth.

“Our theory on advertising and business is that if you take care of the people who walk through the front door, then they will get other people to come,” Willard said.

Milo’s allure derives from more than just word of mouth. When customers go to Milo’s for the first time, the staff do everything they can to make their patrons feel welcome.

Willard said that many customers come into Milo’s from out-of-state and say that the bar reminds them of some place back home.

Making customers feel comfortable and at home is something that the staff of Milo’s strives for.

“We are here to help you have a good time, and we want to have a good time too,” Willard said.

SMU students take advantage of Milo’s friendly atmosphere and staff for anything from a relaxing night out to a variety of special occasions. Milo’s might not be the flashiest bar in the Dallas area, but the atmosphere and friendly staff draw in a constant flow of customers that fall in love with the uniqueness of the bar and become customers for life.

“SMU students tend to go to bars where they can be seen by a crowd; Milo’s is different because you go simply to have fun without really caring about making an impression on other people,” Marabito said.

The inside of Milo Butterfinger’s is filled with sports memorabilia, arcade games and other knick-knacks.Photo credit: Rebecca Keay.


More to Discover