In Search of the Super Bowl in Williamsburg

Food Republic’s Eva Karagiorgas and, left, Tumblr’s Jen Pelka at their companies’ co-hosted Super Bowl party.  (Photo by Jason Burke.)
Food Republic’s Eva Karagiorgas and, left, Tumblr’s Jen Pelka at their companies’ co-hosted Super Bowl party. (Photo by Jason Burke.)

Though a great place to catch Devendra Banhart live, Williamsburg is not much of a destination for the sports fan. Sure, there’s the 4th Down Sports Bar, Mulholland’s and the fratty Whiskey Brooklyn, but even the latter is hidden underground so as not to obstruct the view of the Vice offices across the street. So where do Williamsburg residents go on Super Bowl Sunday? The Transom decided to find out.

The first stop of the evening was the former K&M Bar on North Eighth, which is gearing up to relaunch under new owners as the Roebling Sporting Club.

Sean Rawlinson, one of the new owners, is a partner at The Bedford, which he calls “an institution in the rock ’n’ roll scene.” After a decade in Manhattan, he moved to Williamsburg and found himself missing the finer things of city life. “Living here, I remember asking my friends, ‘Where can I watch sports? Why is there no sports bar?’” He snorted derisively. “And my friends are both rock ’n’ roll guys, so they were like, ‘Why would you want one?’”

Mr. Rawlinson knew that if he built it, they would come. But who were they? Not the K&M scene, certainly. Mr. Rawlinson had a specific group in mind when building the Roebling. People just like him.

I’m the new Williamsburg,” he boasted. “I’m the type of guy moving here. Those $3,000-to-$4,000 apartments? Those aren’t for hipsters. Those are for guys like me who like to watch sports at 6:30.”

Even the old standbys like The Turkey’s Nest or Zamaan, where pre-gentrification residents gathered to watch the games, are subpar by Mr. Rawlinson’s standards. “They’re all poor excuses. There’s only one TV, and it’s 32 inches! I’m from Manhattan. I want 18 TVs, all on HD, that I can watch no matter where I sit.”

His clientele, which was selectively gathered for the soft launch, seemed confused about the nature of the space, however.

“Wait, so this isn’t K&M anymore?” one woman waiting in line for the bathroom asked the Transom. Looking in vain for someone who vaguely resembled a sports fan, we approached the least hipster-looking guy at the Roebling Sports Club, a gentleman sporting a T-shirt and jeans.

“Oh, I’m just here with friends. I’m not a huge fan,” Brian Kenyon said. “I just got back to Brooklyn; I spent the last year and a half filming House of Cards in Baltimore, so I’m just trying to get out more.” The Transom, who had been obsessively streaming the Netflix original series all weekend, immediately lost interest in the game’s score, though maybe we just weren’t the right type of New Williamsburg resident.

Meanwhile, over at the Brooklyn Brewery, Tumblr was co-hosting its own Super Bowl party with Food Republic. Here, the guests seemed to actually have a team to root for (mostly the 49ers, Silicon Valley’s home team), which made it the most sporty Williamsburg event we had ever witnessed. (Outside of the epic kickball playoffs in McCarrenPark in ’09.)

“You can’t do an ironic cheer,” Katie J. M. Baker of Jezebel scolded one attendee who attempted such, inadvertently summing up the whole evening.

Tumblr knew that you only need a few basic staples to make a great Super Bowl party: home-brined pickles, a nail-art station, puppies, lemongrass hops beer and photos of your pulled pork’s former life as a wild boar, snapped after it had been shot and stuffed into the hunter’s backpack. Not for the PETA of heart, the boar was served on a biscuit with optional artisanal ketchup.

It was delicious.

For those who preferred a less personal relationship with their food, Red Rooster came down from Harlem with wings, and there was a make-your-own bánh mì station provided by Num Pang. There was locally-made Field Trip jerky, bags of McClure’s pickle-flavored chips and a variety of dips scattered around on the picnic tables in the oversized Williamsburg space. A raffle was held to raise money for Hurricane Sandy-damaged Red Hook. The grand prize was 10 pounds of meat from The Meat Hook and other native delicacies.

Of course, the real highlight of the evening was a live version of the Puppy Bowl, as employees were encouraged to bring their own mutts for an adorable playoff. Unfortunately, only one dog seemed interested in staying in the pen, while the rest were content to meander around the Brewery—free range, as it were.
In Search of the Super Bowl in Williamsburg