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Red Hook Mourns the Death of Beloved Bait & Tackle Bartender

By Nikhita Venugopal | January 21, 2014 10:55am
 Chris Piscitelli, 36, who had worked as a bartender at Red Hook Bait & Tackle and Sunny's Bar, died Jan. 18 after succumbing to cancer.
Chris Piscitelli, 36, who had worked as a bartender at Red Hook Bait & Tackle and Sunny's Bar, died Jan. 18 after succumbing to cancer.
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Facebook/Sunny's Bar

RED HOOK — A beloved Red Hook bartender, who many called friend and brother after years of working at two well-known local bars, died Saturday after succumbing to cancer, friends said.

Christopher Piscitelli, 36, who tended bar at both Red Hook Bait & Tackle and Sunny’s Bar in Red Hook, died Jan. 18 at New York Presbyterian Weill Cornell Medical Center.

Printed notes, announcing Piscitelli’s death and each carrying a picture of the bartender pouring a drink, were stacked on the bar at Bait & Tackle Monday evening.

“Chris was well known for his tremendous capacity for trivia, his unrivaled ability to tell it like it is, and his incredible generosity in friendship,” one note read.

Piscitelli, who friends called “Pish,” is survived by his wife, Sue Williams, who co-founded the Makers Toolbox, a company that creates make-it-yourself toys for children.

Piscitelli worked intermittently at both Red Hook bars for years, said friends at Bait & Tackle Monday evening.

“Over the course of 10 years, Chris has been a magnanimous presence in Red Hook,” said Julia Rhodes Davis, a friend.

More than 100 mourners “liked” and commented on Facebook posts by Piscitelli’s former workplaces, both of which made the announcement over the weekend.

”Today we lost a member our immediate family. He was a force. A friend to all, but more importantly a brother to those that truly knew him,” Sunny’s Bar posted on Facebook.

“Wherever you are, in this world or the next, raise a glass to the best of the best.”

Before his death, friends launched a fundraising campaign called “Chris Pish Brain Trust” to help raise money for Piscitelli’s surgery. Only last week, a dozen Red Hook businesses were rallying to host “a benefit for the most righteous S.O.B in Red Hook” on Jan. 27 to ease mounting medical costs.

A cardboard box for donations that reads “Chris’ Brain Trust. Our Bartender + Friend” still sits on the bar at Bait & Tackle. 

Between 2008 and 2011, Piscitelli managed and tended Thomas House, a bar in Dublin, Ireland. The bar tweeted that it would remain closed on Wednesday, and reopen on Thursday, to mourn their former barman. 

“Today we lost a brother. The original defender, Chris Pish. Wherever you are, raise a glass to him. Taken way too soon. F*** cancer,” the bar tweeted Jan. 19, first reported by the Staten Island Advance.

A service will be held Jan. 22 beginning 9 a.m. at Scotto’s Funeral Home, located at 106 1st Pl., following by a memorial salute at the Red Hook Bait & Tackle.

The Bait & Tackle will be open all day on Wednesday with the drive-by salute around 10 a.m. and a potluck reception after the funeral.

In lieu of flowers, friends asked mourners to consider making a donation to WFMU Radio, the American Cancer Society or Social Tees Rescue.