The bar's patrons wear a mix of Blackhawks red and Bruins gold, their loyalties divided, even though Brendan's, 3169 N. Broadway, sells itself as "Chicago's No. 1 Bruins bar." Owner Stephen Hill said that's normal.
"It seems that with the Bruins playing now I might have a few more Boston fans coming in, but during the year we have a real mix," Hill said.
Hill bought the bar in 2006, a little more than a decade after he visited Chicago and forgot to leave, and remodeled it to fit his Boston-focused vision. He celebrates numerous Boston teams — one of his favorite stories includes helping the wife of then-Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling raise more than $10,000 for charity — but this month, it's hockey season.
Hill's homemade Stanley Cup stands testament to that: Excited at the possibility of a 2011 championship, the bar owner attached a stainless steel bowl to a beer keg and painted a Bruins emblem on the middle. Hill proudly shows it off within the bar and, on occasion, atop his car. He considered disassembling the makeshift cup but decided not to because people come into the bar to take photos with it.
Patron Kathi Kreger said Hill's creation has earned him some heckling from Blackhawks fans. But the bar's atmosphere is friendly, Kreger said, and any sports rivalry is good-natured. When Boston-born Leslie Bloom walked into the bar for Game 2 on Saturday and asked Kreger if she could sit with her, Kreger teased, "Hmm, I don't know."
"Even my bartenders that are Hawks fans, we razz each other a little but on friendly terms," Hill said. "They'll admit, 'Yeah, Hawks didn't even show up tonight.' [It's] nothing serious ever, which is nice."
Bloom, a lifelong hockey devotee, said she had experienced the same thing, laughing when Blackhawks fans spotted her gray-and-gold shirt and told her the Bruins were going to lose. When she and Kreger met at the bar, they joked that everyone was friendly now, but come Game 7 things would be more tense.
Bloom, who has lived in Chicago for years, was at the game when the Bruins took the eastern conference. Back in Chicago for the finals, she was desperate to find a place that would broadcast the games — and where her black and gold wouldn't set her apart. Brendan's Pub, with a foot in both camps, was a perfect fit.
The way Bloom sees it, this year's Stanley Cup is a win-win, as she wouldn't be upset with a Chicago victory.
"As long as they're not playing Boston, I'm rooting for Chicago," Bloom said.
Hill holds the Hawks in his heart, too.
And when one of the teams claims the Stanley Cup, Brendan's will join in on the revelry.
"We'll be celebrating with complimentary champagne at the end of the game," Hill said.