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Where Everybody Knows Your Name

It’s no secret I enjoy television, though shows seems to have become less funny, more risque, less family friendly, and it seems like storylines of shows of the same genre, mirror each other as close as they can without committing copyright infringement. It’s one of the reasons I enjoy reruns of older programs (comedies or dramas). Doing what I’m lucky to do each week in this column, I like to draw comparisons to what/who I’ve seen on TV, to people and places in my real life.

Many have heard my comparisons of the bar in the fictitious comedy show, Cheers, which ran from ’82 to ’93, with a place I’ve patronized since I turned 18 (’71), that being Jamestown’s own, The Pub.

Long after Cheers ended in ’93, as I visited The Pub, I started reminiscing about who sat where on Fridays after school dismissed, who drank what back then, and how Jim McKusker remembered people’s favorite drink, and mentioned it to them before they could order it from him. As I continue to visit the Pub, I go back to those days, whenever one of the Bartenders puts together a Pub signature Beef on Weck. I remember Jim leaning over, and stirring, the steaming pan of beef in Au Jus, then piling the meat on the bottom half of the roll, then piercing the top of the roll with a serving fork, lightly skimming it across the top of the Au Jus before completing the construction of the definitely “two fisted,” delicious sandwich.

Amazingly, today’s Pub staff hasn’t messed with the way it was then prepared, assembled, and served, by changing anything about that part of the Pub experience. True to the adage, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” I guess.

As much as I’d been to Jamestown’s Cheers from age 18 to about two years ago, these past two years has given me more opportunity to increase my comparisons from the long ended, rerun syndicated, easily remembered sitcom of the 80s/90s. You see, the pandemic, made me a little crazy (never mind the snickers and comments) being pent up, looking for things to productively occupy time, so a buddy (really my shirt-tail cousin), whom I refer to as my COVID Cugino, and I, went to “Cheers” for lunch a couple times on a once-a-week basis. Our wives definitely appreciated our leaving the house once-a-week, as you might say we got/get a bit “moody” at times while inactive. It’s proved to be almost as important as breathing oxygen, and has now been an on-going regular part of each week for the past two plus years, lately, though, with a little game we’ve played as time’s passed.

We started comparing some patrons at the Pub to some characters from Cheers, and having a ball doing it. Being we usually sit in the same seats at one particular end of the bar, ala Cliff and Norm, and our conversations, my cugino reminds me of Cliff Claven, and since I’m loud, sarcastic, and have somewhat (?) dry wit, I remind me a lot of Norm.

Can’t really pick out Carla at the Pub as all the girls are very nice and non-complaining, certainly not like nasty Carla. There’s no snobbish Diane either. So, if someone from The Pub wants those comparisons, they’ll have to work harder.

As far as Frazier Crane goes, there’s not many psychiatrists/psychologists at our lunch “sessions.” (If there were, “Cliff” and “Norm” would make great studies.)

We don’t sit with, but do say hi to, some knowledgeable lawyers, and a judge, who are regulars, and we often sit near a local worldly newspaper man who answers our questions, (and listens to “Cliffy’s” stories) when every once-in-a-while we ask for advice about something, so, I guess you can look at any of them as Frazier-like characters.

Another patron, we’ve met since the remaking of Cheers in Jamestown these past two pandemic years, who sits at our end of the bar and joins us in conversations and laughter, is a buddy of our bartender/server, and can be much like the Cheers character, Paul. Because “Cliff” and “Norm” usually get loud and monopolize much of the talk at our end, “Paul” has to jump in wherever he can, but when he does, it’s a great addition to the laughter and fun.

Then there’s our bartenders/servers. First, the main bartender/manager of The Pub, has the same name as the bartender/manager of Cheers. He’s a little shorter and his hair isn’t as neat as TV Sam, but he’s as comical, and is great a host at The Pub. On our side of the bar, our bartender/server has to be likened to Boston’s Ernie Pantusso, a.k.a. “Coach.” He’s funny, he’s a coach, though he never got hit in the head by multiple pitches (that we know of, anyway), but because he’s funny, and a coach, he gets that honor at The Pub.

So, there it is. Maybe stretching some comparisons, but what’s not a stretch and cannot be disputed about fictitious Cheers or real Pub, was/is lauded in Gary Portnoy’s theme song, which in high percentage is very true. Both places are, “Where everybody knows your name, and you’re always glad you came.”

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