The Steeler Fans of Minnesota
have gotten used to moving their headquarters recently.
After a dismal 8-8 season in 2006, the fan club moved from the dank and dismal confines of The Starting Gate to the expansive Tavern on the Avenue (the Tav). Keeping the Steel Tradition alive in St. Paul was difficult with surly waitresses and a country-western theme, but they forged on.
Cheering for the team during a successful 2007 season was an enjoyable experience despite the odd TV angles and heartburn-inducing food of the Tav.
Much like fitting the new Mike Tomlin Administration with the Timeless Rooney Franchise, the club is now meshed with Patrick McGovern's Pub
on West 7th St. in St. Paul. It couldn't be a more perfect fit.
The low-class of the Starting Gate combined with an odd feeling of expansive seclusion of the Tav gave Steelers fans a feeling of inferiority. Terrible-at-best service combined with poor aesthetic appeal made the environments of the previous locations added to a feeling of "we don't have anywhere else to watch the Steelers play."
There were even Steelers decorations stolen from the Tav last year.
Now, it's been replaced by the outstanding quality, perfect floor layout and outstanding service of one of the best establishments in St. Paul.
McGovern's Pub is one of the finest restaurant bars in the Twin Cities area. A warm ambiance inside is surrounded by a bustling cultural feel of downtown St. Paul - the most underrated area in the Twin Cities - makes one wonder why McGovern's wasn't considered by the club previously.
The old world tables, chairs and bar area blends with LCD flat-screen TVs around every corner gives the club an air of credibility after years of a feeling of disrespect from other establishments. It felt like the club was bothering ownership during 16 games a year, despite the group bringing in 100+ fans who just want to get the sandwich they ordered sometime before the game is over and gladly paying money to do so.
The wait staff at McGovern's was prompt, polite and professional. The food was delivered quickly, and it was warm and arranged on the plate the way a restaurant that cares about their product would arrange it. It even had everything you ordered, a luxury the club hadn't enjoyed in the past.
Previously, Steelers fans showed up early at the venue to read Wexell's Steelers Digest column, talk about the game and put in an order that would arrive before halftime. Now, fans will show up early simply because it's a fantastic environment; a place that deserves a high level of patronage.
The concrete proof for me was when my fiance, who's not a big football fan, said "we should have the Groom's Dinner here."
That same statement made about either previous venue would have been the punchline to a joke.
Imagine a place solely dedicated to your team, run by an obviously talented managerial and wait staff, filled by a club with equally dedicated and organized managers, with great and affordable food and the PG-13-rated rowdiness of a good home crowd. It's even got wireless access, and there isn't a spot in the area where cell phone calls and text messaging is not possible (just don't do it while Mayor Paul is talking).
Then top it off by knowing your non-football-interested wife, fiance or girlfriend actually wanting to be there.
That's what the Steeler Fans of Minnesota have found at Patrick McGovern's Pub. Congratulations to Paul Palmer, Glenn and Laura Leonberger, Jimmie The Spoons and Cody Jones, much like the selection of Ben Roethlisberger, they've struck gold.
If you're in the Twin Cities area for any reason (live here, travel here, stuck at a wedding for the weekend), feel free to come in for an excellent game experience. From someone who's seen several Steelers bars in a lot of different cities, this is truly one of the best you will find anywhere.