Now that NFL teams have kicked off a new season, Kelly’s at Southbridge has announced that this season it will dedicate game days to one team – the Chicago Bears.
Being a business run by natives of the Chicago area, the pub-eatery staff is excited to go all out for the team and bring a taste of the windy city to Oldtown.
“Since this is more of a Chicago themed bar, we’re bringing Chicago here,” Kelly’s at Southbridge General Manager Erik Stephansen said. “We’re making Chicago-style hot dogs, Windy City beef, Chicago drink specials and importing everything from Chicago.”
These specials will be available all season long and on game days for fans to indulge in as they relax in any one of the restaurants comfy couches and chairs.
“The inspiration behind Kelly’s was based a bit off Cheers,” Stephansen said. “We want people to come in and feel comfortable. We have areas to eat and areas to lounge where it will almost feel like being in your living room but receiving service.”
The restaurant offers fans a variety of areas to watch their favorite teams with several lounges that give customers the feel of watching a game in their living room to outdoor patios with misters to one of the restaurant’s two bars.
“We try to cater to everyone, so everybody feels comfortable when they come here,” Stephansen said.
All seating is reserved on a first-come, first-served basis. However, Stephansen asks customers who wish to enjoy a game in one of the lounges to call in beforehand.
This will change once the playoffs roll around and Kelly’s at Southbridge rents out the lounges for those games.
Though the restaurant has had years of experience as a football bar, it is still working out the challenges of becoming a bar that is dedicated to one team.
“The challenge is making sure that we have enough Bears fans here,” Stephansen said. “What happens is that if we’re dedicated to one team and we get people who outnumber them cheering for another team, it’s hard to tell them, ‘No, we can’t put the sound of that game on.’”
Because of that, the restaurant spent most of the weeks leading up to kickoff that it would be dedicated to the Bears this season.
“It’s also been a little hard letting people know that we’re a Bears bar,” Stephansen said. “We’ve been telling people that we’re a Bears bar and we had flags outside up until the monsoon storms hit.”
Despite having to commit to one team on most of its screens and on its speakers, Kelly’s is prepared to host a comforting and fun viewing experience for all types of patrons.
“It doesn’t get too rowdy and we make sure that it’s a family atmosphere for people to have fun,” Stephansen said.
In addition to showing the game, Stephansen has plans to add more fun for customers enjoying the game by playing “Bear Down” after every touchdown on the speakers and holding a raffle.
“On Sundays we will also have raffles where we will raffle off specific Chicago items — that can’t be found on the internet – for charity,” he said.
When the Bears aren’t playing, Stephansen plans to show Cardinals games in addition to the other matchups around the NFL.
“If the Bears aren’t on, the Cardinals will be and we want to establish ourselves as a good place to hang out for football,” he said.
When football is not on, Stephansen has plans to show the other Chicago sports teams games and create a unique experience for each team.
“We’re trying to also be a dedicated Chicago bar,” he said. “We’ll show the Blackhawks, the Bulls, White Sox and Cubs as well.”
Like he does with Bear Down, Stephansen will play the Chicago Blackhawks goal song “Chelsea Dagger” by The Fratellis and “Don’t Stop Believin’” by Journey when the White Sox hit a home run.
Despite being excited to be the mecca of Chicago sports in Scottsdale, Stephansen is most excited to have football back at Kelly’s at Southbridge.
“Football season is always the tell-tale sign that you’re back in season,” he said. “People come out, they get along and you know once the ball gets kicked off it’ll be exciting.”