Firmino scaled

Missing my local during the pandemic

Liverpool’s Roberto Firmino posing with fans after a game at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin, in 2018. INPHO/TOMMY DICKSON

By Geoffrey Cobb

A common topic of conversation for New Yorkers these days is what we miss from our lives before the pandemic shutdown. The shutdown has helped us notice the previously under-appreciated things that enrich our lives. For me, like a lot of people, I have been missing my local pub, Lake Street in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, and my many friends there, who are for me a kind of second family.

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Lake Street is the vision of Derry native Steve Howlett, who opened the pub seven years ago. Working in another Greenpoint bar and checking IDs, Howlett noticed the large number of Midwesterners live in the area and decided to open a bar with co-owners from Minnesota that recreated the best elements of a Midwestern bar. Greenpointers quickly embraced the unpretentious, laid-back ambiance Lake Street offered, proving that an Irishman does not have to run an Irish place to succeed in the bar business.

Though Lake Street’s biggest draw has been Sunday Viking games, when dozens of purple clad Minnesotans cheer their beloved team, a close second has been a diverse, growing contingent of Liverpool FC supporters. Howlett and I, along with Scowser Dave Kelsaw, Ukrainian Roman Belopolsky, Carrickfergus man Gavin Holmes, Dutchman Ari Van Der Veen and Americans Peter Storm and Rob Pope have formed a small, but passionate, core group of supporters who regularly come to the pub for Liverpool matches. Each game has seemed to attract more fans and soon, Howlett began raising a Reds flag outside the pub and even opened early for morning matches from Anfield.

Liverpool fans in Lake Street.

For 30 years, Liverpool have been mostly a shadow of the team that dominated in the 1970s and ’80 (with the Champions League titles in 2005 and last year being silver linings), but this season we the fans have enjoyed the old Reds flair at full throttle as Liverpool dominated the Premier League and reached the cusp of a title when suddenly a double Covid-19 whammy hit and both the League and Lake Street shut down.

Missing the football, but more so the camaraderie of the pub, we organized a Lake Street Reds Zoom beer-in, which reminded us all of the friendships we have forged while watching Liverpool matches. The banter and many laughs we shared during that virtual pub session made us all keenly aware of how a pub can unite different people. The Zoom call made us all the more eager for Lake Street to open up again soon for us to enjoy football and the friendships we have forged there.