Kettle of Fish keeps New York's Wis. sports fans connected
And Kettle's walls are adorned with signed Packers photos, pics of Brett Favre … the usual. In fact, the subterranean tavern, which has two rooms – a main space with the bar and a side room with dartboards and a comfy lounge with sofas – feels a lot like a Milwaukee bar. Strings of holiday lights hang from the ceiling.
It's warm, a little dark and folks are chatty. Ducking in out of the rain at 4 p.m. on a Wednesday, the Kettle filled quickly with what appeared to be regulars. Most were on a first-name basis not only with the bartender but with each other, too.
Among New Yorkers, however, the Kettle is still more famous for its past connections than for its current owner's sports preferences. It remains a piece of Greenwich Village history.
"Oh absolutely," says Daley. "Kerouac, Dylan. We're in Dylan's autobiography. In fact, there's a gal who's doing a PBS Documentary, following up the last documentary on Dylan, and she is going to do some interviews in here over a couple of weeks."
Still, for visiting Wisconsinites, there's more interest in Davis than Dylan. Willie Davis, that is …
"Yeah (there's a signed picture on the wall) of Willie Davis," Daley enthuses. "He's my all-time favorite Packer. He didn't come in here, but a gal that works in one of his radio stations did. So she got him to sign this for me and sent it back. Willie Wood's my second.
"We got LeRoy Butler (to) sign for us. When there are Packers games, we dress up the place. We had John Brockington watch the game here … the Vikings game a few years back around the holidays when he was visiting his step-daughter who watched games here."
And she's not alone when she's watching, says Daley, not by a long shot. In fact, the small bar is packed (sorry) to the gills when Green Bay is on the screens.
"It's huge," says Daley, "enough people know (about the Kettle). We get a minimum of 100, sometimes a lot more. A few games, certainly Bears games and stuff, unfortunately we have to turn people away. (We) have a blast for Packers games. We do Badgers games and Brewers games. I haven't had a real call for the Bucks, but I got the package last year, but we didn't have a lot of people for that."
And now, at last, Kettle patrons can enjoy Sprecher beers, too, says Daley, offering a sample of a dark and potent new Sprecher Dopplebock.
"Sprecher has just come to town very recently," says Daley, obviously pleased. "If you're going to do beers here, you have to go through a distributor. Legally, you can't bring beer from Wisconsin and put it in your car. So I'll be getting the Sprecher and maybe this Dopplebock."
We arrived at the Kettle a couple days after the annual Brewers tailgate at Shea Stadium, which helps keep the bar's badgers – hey, it is underground – busy in summer.
"We do it every year, this was our fourth annual," says Daley. "When the Brewers come to town, one of the days we get a bus (for) 55 people, I buy a block of tickets, and we barbeque and tailgate, and it's great. We got five quarter barrels from the Six Point Brewery."
This year, the Brewers came through, beating the Mets, 12-3.
"The Brewers won last year, too. It was the only game they won out of the three-game series. The highlight of this game was J.J. Hardy's grand slam. That rocked."
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In 1958, the Kettle was on MacDougal Street. It is the first bar in which I was served alcohol. I was 17.
There is something about the Wisconsin sports fan. There should a scholarly study of this phenomenon. BTW, L.A. news papers have run many articles on how to market to other sports teams to create the Badger effect. When I saw the '94 Rose Bowl, I can't count the number of restaurant persons who said "we love you guys".
And the looks on the faces of the Greenwich Villagers as they pass by and see a line of people in green and gold waiting to get into a basement bar on a Sunday morning. Priceless. And they say that nothing gets the attention of a New Yorker. They seem truly puzzled by this phenomenon.
An addition - we also sing and dance after touchdowns to classics such as I love my Green Bay Packers" and "The Bears Still Suck". For anyone coming to NYC, The Kettle should be up there with your visit to Time Square or Central Park...
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