A Nightspot Fit for Hemingway 1

Pop’s Safari Offers an Adventurous Selection of Goods in a One-of-a-Kind Environment

Few men embodied the rugged ideal better than Ernest Hemingway. A pugilist, big-game hunter and master fisherman who saw combat in World War I, Hemingway also personally liberated the Paris Ritz from Nazis, and somehow found the time to write a book or two. Hemingway — or Papa, as he liked to be called — also appreciated a good drink and a fine cigar, and one can imagine that the Nobel laureate spent many an evening in enjoyment of both. It’s easy to envy those who experienced Hemingway’s legendary bonhomie in person, and the enduring popularity of the man’s novels speaks as much to the appeal of his lifestyle as it does the impactfulness of his prose.

If you’ve ever wanted to step into a Hemingway novel, a cozy bistro off West 7th in Fort Worth offers the next best thing. Pop’s Safari, opened in 2008 by Perry Tong and his wife Pat, offers a departure from the typical West 7th nightlife destination. Pop’s Safari has made a name for itself thanks to an unparalleled selection of wine and cigars; it’s the atmosphere of the place, however, that really sets it apart.

The idea for Pop’s Safari first came to Perry in 1996, back when he and his wife produced a television series called Scuba World. The show, which became the longest-running program of its kind, centered on travel news and sport diving, and shot at location in exotic places around the world.

“We traveled all over the place, and every time we left town, somebody told us to bring them back a cigar,” says Perry. “It got to where we were bringing back a bag of cigars every trip. When we heard a rumor that we might get canceled, we joked that we would just open a cigar shop.”

The rumor turned out to be unfounded, and the show continued its successful run for a number of additional seasons. The idea for a cigar shop stuck with Perry and Pat, though, and when cancellation finally came, they were ready.

“We initially opened just the studio,” says Perry of Pop’s location in a duplex. “Now we have a gun shop on one side, and the cigar and wine shop on the other.”

The gun shop, KTF & Collectibles, specializes in both new and antique firearms, and also offers antique watches, knives, art, and range of unclassifiable sundries. Once you’ve had a chance to browse — perhaps for the perfect Father’s Day gift — take a load off next door in Pop’s Safari’s comfortable lounge area. The centerpiece of the shop, the lounge is decorated in a safari theme that would do Hemingway proud. The seating arrangement encourages conversation and the shared appreciation of fine wine and cigars, and patrons are encouraged to order food from nearby restaurants. Pop’s Safari also offers bottled and draft beer, and a typical evening sees friendly groups engaged in lively conversation, while the knowledgeable staff ensures that everyone’s palate finds satiation.

Should you want to step out for some fresh air, Pop’s Safari has an attractive outdoor patio area as well. If you bring your dad for Father’s Day, you might lose him inside the walk-in humidor. Perry’s original vision for Pop’s — as an outlet for fine cigars — remains a primary focus, and the humidor contains a rich selection at a variety of price points. As for gifts, Pop’s offers four-packs of high-quality, premium cigars at an affordable price. You can also browse the staggering selection of wine, or get suggestions on ideal pairings.

Father’s Day brings with it an uptick in Pop’s Safari’s sales, and for good reason. You’ll find no better place in Fort Worth — or anywhere, for that matter — that presents a similar selection of goods compiled with such discernment and care. At the very least, stop in, order a beer, and revel in the place’s ambience. If it’s been awhile since you revisited the works of Mr. Hemingway, you can even bring a book.