NEW YORK - Who would have thought there would be a bar in the heart of Manhattan where a St. Louis Blues fan could go for a few pints and feel right at home?
As it turns out, there is one!
It's called Wood & Ales and it is located at 234 West 14th Street in the West Village in Chelsea.
Blues games dominate the TVs there in the evenings, and John Kelly and Darren Pang's voices on FOX Sports Midwest take over the speaker system. Blues flags hang from the ceiling, Blue Note pennants hang from the walls and even a "This Bar Bleeds Blue" sign greets you right when you walk in the front door.
"I had a couple of customers of mine, one was from St. Louis, and she said she had this great idea that I could get St. Louis hockey fans here," said owner James Molinari. "I thought she was crazy, but she gave me a bit of a nudge and I said if you can send them, send them. And she sent them. That's how it became a Blues bar."
That customer - Alice Dunaway - is a native of St. Louis who relocated to New York over a year ago to work in public relations while continuing her education. Dunaway created a Twitter and Instagram account to inform hockey fans of a bar that would put Blues games on their TVs, while her friend, Jon Franks, created a Facebook group. The bar's growth has been amazing ever since.
"It's pretty much a Blues fan club," Dunaway said. "We have people come here from Long Island and New Jersey, people from all parts of Manhattan. It's pretty crazy how far people will come to come to this bar. People from Maryland, even pilgrimages from St. Louis! It's not just a bar, it's a fan club."
Wood and Ales, of course, serves ice cold Bud Light. They have also added a few St. Louis favorites on the food menu with thin-crust pizza with provel cheese and even toasted ravioli.
"I figured out how to fry a couple raviolis," Molinari said. "Wait, I shouldn't say fry. I should say 'toast.'"
"Playoffs and big games against the Blackhawks or the Red Wings or (games) on weekends, the entire bar is packed. Standing room only," said Franks, a St. Louis native who frequents Wood and Ales. "It's a little slice of home."
Despite being nearly 1,000 miles away, Wood and Ales signed up for the This Bar Bleeds Blue program last year, which makes it an official bar partner of the Blues. Bars that participate in the program receive a case of Blues and Budweiser beer glasses, a Blues-branded banner to hang and placement on the This Bar Bleeds Blue website at stlouisblues.com.
But Wood and Ales isn't just a place to hang out to watch the games. They give back, too.
Dunaway and her New York-based Blues fan club collected Blues bobbleheads, sweatshirts and banners and auctioned them to benefit Blues for Kids.
"We raised over $1,800 for Blues for Kids, and we were able to donate that after (last season's) playoff run. We wanted to give back to St. Louis, because most of us are from St. Louis and we love the area. We don't live there anymore, so we just want to contribute as much as we can."