It helps in life to have a friend that owns a bar, it helps in life too when said bar is an Irish pub. Too a point. . .
Two years ago while in school my oldest daughter then in kindergarten had to fill out a “Getting To Know Me” questionnaire of sorts listing her favorite things- color, number, animal, etc. oh and restaurant. For favorite restaurant it was not “McDonald’s” but rather “The Pub”. Niiiiice. Nothing like a five year old informing her class and teacher that she frequents bars. Needless to say it made for a rather interesting conversation piece with her teacher that day we picked her up from school.
A bar hopper my oldest is not, however she is accurate in the fact that the pub, our friend’s pub is a frequent go to for us when it comes to going out and getting something to eat as a family. Aside from the great ambience/decor and Guinness on tap the pub has a wonderful informality that takes the stress out of going out to eat with three children six and under. Let’s be honest too, it helps to know the owner. What else is great about pubs in general, especially Irish and English pubs is that they not only attract expats, they also embrace the English Premier League.
Football over there or soccer here the EPL is gaining traction in the United States which to me as a fan is a wonderful thing. Why the growing success of the EPL in the United States? I would point to a number of reasons. Soccer itself is advancing in popularity here in America and therefore it would make sense the EPL would as well. The EPL also offers a uniqueness that is hard to find anywhere else as far as the sports fandom experience. For starters EPL games are all early in the morning or early in the afternoon due to the time change. It means fans like me with children can pop it on early in the morning before the day gets going. Moreover “late” games are still early in the day over here. Games are also commercial free and typically a mere two hours in length counting halftime- again, remarkably perfect for fans like me that cannot or do not want to dedicate an entire afternoon/evening to live viewership. These built in advantages combined with passionate fans make for a great overall sports product. Absolutely love it.
During EPL season one of my favorite things to do is pop up to the pub with my wife and three girls or on occasion solo when the place first opens have an early lunch and watch a game. It’s totally an easy environment with usually a fan or two in their respective team jersey watching and enjoying the craic. Two hours. Done. As I have said before the EPL is built for parents. Boxing Day or St. Stephen’s Day on December 26th has become a big day in our family for watching the EPL at the pub.
My children’s familiarity and comfort level with a barroom can be traced, at least partially to my father.
Growing up my father on the weekends was always taking my siblings and me to various haunts and spots to eat in my hometown of Rochester. Often these adventures came on the heels of sporting events that we had just attended in person or if a particular sporting event of note was on television and we wanted to go out and watch it. Although they were bar/restaurants they tended to be heavy on the bar if you know what I mean. . . poorly lit, sticky floors, maybe some free popcorn or peanuts and no shortage of pub grub fare on the menu. Indeed these places were the anti-chains; somehow managing to be similar and distinct all at the same time. Their distinctiveness usually lie in a particular dish or feature of note- from exceptional chicken wings to legendary deep dish pizza to a ridiculous draft beer list. By the time I was thirteen it seemed that I had been to every bar in town. My dad did not think twice about taking us anywhere in this context. Not to say that these places were dangerous, but many people have an internal cut off clock on what time at night was it no longer the appropriate time for kids say under twelve to be in bars. Yeah, my dad never had that clock. We often were by far the youngest patrons in many of the places we went on Friday and Saturday nights. It either did not register with my dad or he did not care. I should add too that these excursions were not merely a façade for my dad to meet up with his buddies and get plastered. In fact although my dad would always get a beer he was by no means ever drunk with us, instead he tended to be about the food and hanging with his children usually watching sports. Just doing it in a bar.
Those excursions with my dad provided great food, soda for us, and beer for my dad as well as many fond memories. . .
My younger brother who became a chef and owns a very successful restaurant today in Chicago talks openly about how these outings were a huge influence in him becoming a chef. That even today, he tries to infuse my father’s adventurousness in his own culinary approach.
So dad on behalf of myself and my brother. . . SLAINTE!