Peter Dillons Bar has been the home of The Raider Nation of New York City for the past two seasons, and for bartender John Lauro – a die-hard Oakland Raiders fan – those have been the best two years of his life.
John launched an Oakland Raiders fan club and built up a loyal following of Oakland Raiders fans at another bar in New York City a few years back. Things didn’t work out, however, so he decided to find another bar at which to spread his Oakland Raiders love.
“The ownership of Dillons took a chance on me, and I am very indebted to them,” John says.
“After creating a Raiders fan club and operating at a different bar in Manhattan, I moved the whole operation to Peter Dillons Bar on 40th and Lexington,” John says, adding that his Raider fan base followed him to the new venue.
Peter Dillons Pub
Which is not to say that there weren’t a few hard feelings along the way. The regulars, it seems, were used to being able to come into the bar and watch whatever game they wanted, and now, it was all about the Raiders.
So, there was a bit of friction at first, but …
“I brought my own crew in on Sundays, and the register started ringing,” John says.
“And I never apologize for making anyone money.”
Since moving to Dillons, John has come in contact with some “very high profile Raider fans”, and they have helped him increase the popularity of his Facebook page, which has been his main tool in promoting his club and game days at Dillons. And word of mouth didn’t hurt, either.
NYC Home of the Raider Nation
“It has been quite the success,” John says. The fan club has been re-branded as the Silver and Black Empire, the NYC Home of the Raider Nation.
“That is to honour both our team and our pride in our home town, which is in the heart of the Empire State,” John says.
“The re-invention of our club and our new location has created an energy that I can’t even begin to describe!
“Standing behind the bar, I get the best seat in the house, the one that faces the Raider Nation of New York City!
Next to the Black Hole, Peter Dillons Bar just might be the best spot on earth to root for the Raiders.
“I couldn’t imagine watching a game anywhere else, and I don’t want to!” John says.
“I love the connection I get with the rest of the Raider Nation. We get a little wild, a little rowdy, but that’s just who we are – we’re Raiders!”
There has never been a shortage of visitors, and if the numbers just keep growing, out-towners from the Golden State are always given a heart-felt welcome.
“Whenever someone from California comes in, I always have to ask how we’re doing, and I’ve been told that this is one of the best Raiders experiences outside of the Coliseum,” John says.
“That to me is the biggest compliment my club can receive, and that is what I live for. I don’t do it alone, as none of this would be possible without the wonderful people that make up the Raider Nation.
When the Oakland Raiders take on the New York Jets on 8 December 2013, NYC’s Raider Nation plans a massive invasion of the Meadowslands, and you can be sure that a lot of Dillons regulars will be proudly wearing the Silver and Black when they enter the stadium.
Black Hole East?
“I’m pleased to say we are going to our first live game together in a few weeks, when our boys come to town to play the New York Jets,” John says.
“My next goal is to lead my crew to Oakland. But one things at a time.”
John was recently nominated for a What a Fan award. While he considers that a great honour, it pales in comparison to standing front and centre in his little patch of Raider Nation each week.
“I love my team, and I’m very lucky that I was given the means to create this,” John says.
“I thank the bar owners for allowing me to use the bar as my playground, I thank my customers for sticking with me through some rough times, and I thank the Raider Nation for their continued support and constant inspiration. I do it all for them, and it’s them that keeps me going.”
And in case you’re wondering what happened to that “other” sports bar across town, it’s become an Atlanta Falcons hangout. Go figure …