The Watering Hole in New York City used to be your typical neighborhood bar that subscribed to the NFL Sunday Ticket package.
“We tried to market ourselves to anyone that wanted to watch the game,” says Johnny Lauro (pictured left), who has been tending bar at the Watering Hole for three years. "But that never really took off.” Then one winter, New York was hit by a terrible snow storm. As Johnny was making his way to work , he got a call from his boss saying that he didn't have to come in. Halfway into the city, he called a friend, who suggested they meet at a bar catering to Miami Dolphins fans.
“When I got there I was shocked,” Johnny says.
“The bar was shabby, the beer was not that fresh, there were two older guys behind the bar, and no kitchen for food service, and yet the place was PACKED . . . for the Dolphins, who's record at the time was pretty lousy. But there were over 70 patrons. I was speechless, so I just watched the crowd.
At halftime there was a mass exodus, as everyone ran out to get a slice of pizza or a sandwich because the bar didn't have a kitchen..
“Now, being a businessman, I was just watching Money walk out the door,” Johnny says.
“Here, I have a nice empty bar, with a full kitchen, and plenty of TVs, and more then enough room to accommodate these people. I inquired about having the Dolphin fan base relocate to my bar. But they were and still are very comfortable at that location.”
The next day, Johnny went to work. He started combing the Internet for any information that he could find on NFL teams and the bars that they hung out at. To his surprise, there were no bars in New York City catering to Oakland Raiders fans. He was incredulous.
Black Hole in New York City
When it comes to hang outs for Oakland Raiders fans in the Big Apple, there was – quite lilterally – one great big Black Hole!
“Can you believe that?” Johnny asks.
“How can the Raiders, with perhaps the greatest fan base of any team, NOT have a place in New York City? I honestly felt that it was fate, and I had a responsibility to myself as well as the Raider Nation to establish ourselves as THE Raiders bar in NYC. So I started posting on websites, where people were asking where to watch the Raiders in NYC, and I answered, 'Watch Them Here! We are a Raiders bar'."
To Be Continued
This is the first in a series. Find out how things fared for Johnny and the Watering Hole in next Saturday's Accidental Travel Writer.