A View from Calico Jack’s – 9/19/2005

OK, in the interest of full disclosure: I’m a NYCBBB staffer, so I’ll probably have a bias toward seeing the good rather than the bad, and the potential rather than the problems.

That said…

Our staff was fully prepared (we thought) for a crazy week at Calico Jack’s this week: after all, it was no less than one of our illustrious founders, Matt Kabel, who observed earlier in the week that “something always goes wrong in week two.” Of course, this is the same guy who sipped so much of a fishbowl drink the previous week that he couldn’t work the next day. So, to be honest, his judgment was to be questioned, at best.

By noon, Calico’s was crowded, but certainly not the mob scene I envisioned would already be taking place. Most notable were the lurkers who hadn’t been able to secure one of the coveted table reservations. To their credit, they arrived early to plot their seating-gathering strategies: get on the waiting list? Somehow marry a seat-holder prior to game time, with the hopes of gaining a family exemption? Curry favor with the Matts (Kabel and Soreco) to a degree usually reserved for Popes and Mafioso? Clearly, Kabel could have gotten a man-hummer on the spot, had he chosen to.

Perhaps with a subtle nod and wink to their consigliore Johnny C., the thinking seemed to go, the Matts would produce the elusive seat, along with 72 virgins and a platter of well-done wings (not sure which of these things is less likely to happen at Calico Jack’s, but more on that later.)

Gradually, the tables and the bar area filled up. You could almost smell the anticipation in the air. Or, maybe that was the smell of wings gone bad. Regardless, it was getting exciting. J.P. and crew had thrilled us only seven days earlier. If they could come through on the road in raging heat against the Bucs, then clearly this team was “for real”.

Meanwhile, as game time approached, there seemed to be a slight complication.

Apparently, a combination of United Nations week and an unusually high tide in the East River had inflicted some damage to the satellite system. Out of either a twist of fate or cruel irony, the big screen – aka, the screen with the volume for the entire restaurant and bar – would not pick up the Bills game.

The Curse of Week Two! Damn you, Kabel!

Don’t worry, I assured my friends. This will be taken care of shortly. Let’s kick back, have some fun, and watch J.P. and the boys take on an opponent with whom I thought they were rather evenly matched.

Time passed, and it was hard to determine which degenerated faster: the Bills’ hopes for victory or our hopes for seeing and hearing their abysmal performance on the big screen. Well, at least we could indulge ourselves in wings, just as we would back in Western NY.


Look, let me state my opinion right here, for the record: the folks at Calico Jack’s, led by manager Johnny C., have been great. They’re bending over backwards to accommodate an ever-expanding group whose needs, quite frankly, really aren’t all that similar to the needs of their patrons the other 6½ days a week: we require special food, special drink, a special reservation system, even special music when our team scores – assuming that ever happens again.

Yet…well, perhaps practice will make perfect.

Meanwhile, the game marched on (well, at least, the Buccaneers marched on), all without sound or big-screen video. And, you know what? The crowd was very cool about it. I’m not suggesting we’d want to have this happen every week, but no one actively complained, and it seems very few if any people left – including the ever-increasing number of young ladies whose appearance seems to be causing quite the stir on the NYCBBB message board. As far as the satellite, Johnny C. did the right thing by offering up free drinks, and by promising all will be resolved by the Falcons game next Sunday.

I hope we can say the same for the Bills. In reality, there were only two problems with the Bills this past week: their offense, and their defense. Other than that, they were great, right? So, I look forward to joining everyone at Calico’s next Sunday as we watch – and hear – the Bills take on Atlanta.