It’s been called “the most famous Packers bar outside of Wisconsin” and it has a history unlike any other. Established in 1950, New York City’s Kettle of Fish once served as the local watering hole for Beat writers like Jack Kerouac and musicians like Bob Dylan. More recently, “the Kettle” has become a home away from home for hundreds of Packers fans living in and around NYC.
Originally opened on MacDougal Street, the Kettle moved twice before settling at its current home: 59 Christopher Street in the heart of New York City’s famed Greenwich Village. The bar recently celebrated its 70th birthday on June 8th.
Like many bars around the country, the Kettle has been hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic. In an effort to stay afloat, the Kettle recently started a GoFundMe campaign
, with the goal of raising $100,000. That effort got a massive boost on June 30th when a Twitter account belonging to none other than @AaronRodgers12 tweeted #savethekettle to his 4.3 million followers. In actuality, Rodgers’ support wasn’t entirely shocking because he had visited the popular Packers bar in person on a recent trip to New York.
Pack To The Future got in touch with Kettle of Fish owner Patrick Daley to learn more about Rodgers’ surprise visit, the GoFundMe campaign and plenty more.
PTTF: I read that you grew up in the Milwaukee suburbs – and moved to New York City in 1980. What brought you here and what were your first impressions of the city coming from Wisconsin?
Daley: I grew up in Wauwatosa and lived on the East side of Milwaukee my last five years in Wisconsin. In 1980 I came to NYC on vacation and fell in love on the bus ride into Manhattan from LaGuardia Airport. It was a blistering hot June day and my bus took side streets from the airport to the 59th St Bridge heading for a now extinct terminal a couple blocks south of Grand Central Station.
Of course I had no idea where I was (it turned out to be Queens) but I was amazed at what I saw. In those days most people didn’t have air conditioners here so everyone was outside in the heat. And what I was seeing was throngs of people comprised of every shade of skin color in the book. My immediate thought was “I’m sticking around to see what this is all about”. I knew I was staying in NY before I even got to Manhattan even though I didn’t have a clue to where I was in the city.
PTTF: You’ve been with The Kettle through 3 moves which could be some kind of NYC bartending record. When you finally bought the rights to the name and moved to the current location — did you know you wanted it to be a Packers bar? Was that part of the plan?
Daley: The original plan was to keep the Kettle alive. We had a community that we were not ready to give up on. However, being a life long and third generation Packer fan, putting the Pack in the mix was going to happen one way or the other. Combining the two was our destiny.
PTTF: The Kettle has become something of a legend, with many people calling it the best Packers bar outside of Wisconsin. What does that mean to you when you hear that?
Daley: It’s awesome! To have other fans on the same wavelength when it comes to the Pack is great. It’s really a two way street, we set the table and they make the party, a Packer Party! Of course, I believe outside of Lambeau it is the best place to catch a game and our fellow Packer Fans that come here are the reason why. When you have a full house singing “I Love My Green Bay Packers” after we score or “The Bears Still Suck” after an opposition score, you get caught up in the Packer mystique real quick. We have converted more than one wayward football fan to the Green and Gold.
PTTF: Last year, as many people now know, Rodgers stopped by the Kettle for a surprise visit. I heard a rumor that he changed his flight to stay in New York City an extra night to do so. Any truth to that? And what were some of your first impressions of QB1?
Daley: First of all, I can’t say enough about Aaron. He was better than advertised. He was self assured but modest with a good sense of humor and naturally engaging. We all had a great time.
And yes, the rumor is true. He flew in that morning to be a celebrity judge at the Tribeca Film Festival and was going to stop by for ten minutes to say hi on his way back to the airport. He ended up staying for 45 minutes and cancelling his flight back to Green Bay until the next day. Did I say I can’t say enough about him?
PTTF: Do you remember what he had to drink?
Daley: When he arrived I asked him if he would like a beverage and he replied, “a scotch”. Note that he didn’t reply with “what single malts do you have”, it was just, “a scotch”. That impressed me. Of course I pointed to the single malts and he ended up choosing The Balvenie Doublewood 12YR Old.
PTTF: Shifting gears to the present day situation with coronavirus — what’s been the biggest challenge for you during this whole mess?
Daley: Where to begin? As with too many people in the world, we have been hammered by the virus and it has caused many challenges for us. First and foremost was the shutdown of our business. Rents in NYC are through the roof and leases are enacted with the thought of “business as usual”. I think a lot of people would be surprised to see the margin of profit in normal conditions but to be shut down completely has been devastating.
PTTF: Being in NYC since the early 80s, you’ve seen the city face plenty of challenges over the years, and New Yorkers seem to possess a special kind of resilience. Are you optimistic the city will survive this, too?
Daley: The city has shown great resilience through time so I’m confident we will eventually come back to what we feel should be normal. We have dealt with blackouts, hurricanes and, of course, 9/11, but the virus poses its own unique problems.
In all the previous examples, people would congregate at the Kettle in order to go through the situation together. [On 9/11] after my wife saw that the first plane had hit and we watched the second one come in we knew we had to get to the bar immediately and open up. When we got here at 11am there was a line of people waiting for us who had walked up from the World Trade Center. We were all in a state of confusion/disbelief/lost but we knew we needed to be together. It was god awful but the one thing we had was each other.
This virus has kept us apart and that has been nerve-wracking in itself. Instead of embracing one another we have had to keep our distance. A bar that centers on community is going to have serious problems attached to the social distancing topic. That being said, the city will bounce back but we are at the mercy of a future vaccine’s schedule. Hopefully we will have one sooner than later.
PFFT: We’ll close with a lightning round…
Favorite Packers player (all-time)?
Favorite Packers memory?
Nick Collins Super Bowl 45 interception
Describe the Jordan Love pick in one word.
Best pizza in NYC?
The best Pizza is in New Haven [Connecticut] but many of NYC’s are great
If there’s no football in 2020 will the Bears still suck?
Win or lose, the Bears will always suck
The Kettle of Fish is located at 59 Christopher St in Manhattan’s West Village. Pack To The Future readers who want to help save this legendary establishment can do so at: https://www.gofundme.com/f/save-the-kettle