Search the internet for the city of Andytown and you might come across an entry from Hotels.com listing the “Top Ten Hotels in Andytown, Florida.” One hotel listed was Vacation Village at Weston. Another was the Doubletree by Hilton, Sawgrass Mills.
Another section was “getting to Andytown” and listed three local airports and the distances from the airports to “central Andytown.”
And finally there was “Things to Do and See Near Andytown,” listing among others, Everglades Holiday Park, where they have airboat rides and alligator wrestling.
A further internet entry gave that day’s sunset time for Andytown, FL.
HELLO PEOPLE: The sun set on Andytown 40 years ago!
That’s when the truck stop enclave, favored haunt of gator hunters, swamp fisherman and other colorful characters to be sure, was demolished. For the general public, it was the only pit stop for 80-some miles across the Everglades to Naples. The year of its demise was 1979.
But people can’t stop talking about it. You ever hear of Andytown? What was that? Where was that?
A creative YouTube contributor has a wry take on it, and Hotels.com, Yelp, and others should take note. The video zooms in on what appears to be a Google Earth map, with a prominent heading, Andytown. But as the narrator points out in the audio, underneath the heading is a cloverleaf overpass. There is not a single house, bar, gas station or structure of any kind. Nothing but the overpass and surrounding scrub at I-75 and U.S. 27.
His conclusion: “This is the only town in America where there is no actual town!”
Well, the obvious answer to all this, of course, is that there once was an Andytown. Not really a town, not really a village, not really anything – except a truck stop owned by a guy name Andy.
That’s Andrew “Andy” Poulos and he’s not even the original owner. But in 1946, this linen salesman from Philadelphia dropped by the gas station at the corner of U.S. 27 and State Road 84 (long before I-75), then drove on to Miami.
But three days later, he came back and bought the truck stop and surrounding ten acres for $50,000.
Another version of the story says he got lost looking for Hollywood when he stopped to get gas.
Under Andy’s reign, the truck stop slowly expanded on its pumps and coffee shop with a bait shop and a bar. Now it was an “outpost” and as one Davie citizen remembered from childhood, “the last place you could go potty on the way to Naples.”
It was never officially a town. But it was called so by those venturing north or south on two-lane U.S. 27, or west or east on two-lane State Road 84, for three decades.
“It was a place you could stop and get a cold drink,” recalled one Davie pioneer in an interview years ago. Jack Griffin said he went to Andytown on fishing trips. “Fishermen and gator hunters stopped there. It was a country place, but it was nice.”
There is some talk that the lounge there was the model for the raunchy swampside bar in the 1981 film Porky’s. But it doesn’t seem to be verified by the late filmmaker Bob Clark, who was a Fort Lauderdale High School student in the 1950s and later wrote a fictionalized account based on the experience. (The independent movie was rejected by all the major studios, blasted by critics, but it caught on with audiences and was the fifth top-grossing film of 1982. It still runs on cable stations regularly.)
In 1972, Poulos died on a trip to his native Greece and was buried there. His nephew, Konstantinos Tsanos, and a partner took Andytown over for the next seven years until it was bought by the state for the Alligator Alley expansion.
“We were in the middle of nowhere,” said Tsanos in a decades-old interview. After the truck stop was demolished for the I-75 overpass, Tsanos presided over a bar in west Davie. He hung a sign from the highway marking Andytown over the front door. It was, fittingly, called Andy’s Lounge (& Package).
The lounge lasted until at least 2013, when a New Times “Dive Bar Reviewer,” hoping for a much wilder place, found a fairly tame venue. It has since closed.
What makes a linen salesman from a cosmopolitan city like Philadelphia buy a truck stop that – in his own nephew’s words – was in the middle of nowhere? And who first called this Andytown?
That’s a good question. But the odd tale of the town that was not a town lives on in greater Fort Lauderdale memory. And, weirdly, on the internet.