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Red Hook Rallies to Raise Money for Beloved Bartender's Family

By Nikhita Venugopal | January 30, 2014 9:40am
 Chris Piscitelli, 36, who died Jan. 18 after succumbing to cancer, friends said.
Chris Piscitelli
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RED HOOK — The Red Hook community is rallying to raise money for the family of a local bartender who died earlier this month.

Christopher Piscitelli, 36, died Jan. 18 after succumbing to cancer at New York Presbyterian Weill Cornell Medical Center.

Piscitelli worked as a bartender at well-known local taverns like the Red Hook Bait & Tackle, Sunny’s Bar and Pioneer Bar-B-Q, now known as the Brooklyn Ice House, friends said.

Known as “Pish” to friends, Piscitelli is survived by his wife, Sue Williams, who co-founded the Makers Toolbox, a company that creates make-it-yourself toys for children. The former barman met Williams while working at the Pioneer Bar-B-Q, friends said.

Fort Defiance, a popular Van Brunt Street bar, is hosting “Tips for Pish” Thursday, where bartenders will be donating their tips to help raise funds for Williams.

The bartenders will be mixing Irish whiskey tiki drinks during their weekly “Sunken Harbor Club,” Thursday night in honor of Piscitelli, who once managed and tended a bar in Dublin, Ireland.

For every cocktail sold, $3 will be donated to his family, said bar owner St. John Frizell, who remembers Piscitelli as a brutally honest man who would always tell it as it is.

“If you combine all of that with just a really loving heart, then the result is something really special,” Frizell said.

Earlier this week, Red Hook bars and businesses hosted a benefit at Hometown Bar-B-Que “for the most righteous S.O.B in Red Hook.”

Monday night's “Pish Fest” benefit, planned weeks ago, was initially meant to raise funds for Piscitelli’s mounting medical bills. But after Piscitelli's death, the community decided host the event, where “thousands of dollars” were raised and donated to Williams, said Francis Kerrigan, bar manager at Sunny’s Bar.

Kerrigan would not disclose the exact amount of money raised.

Calling Piscitelli a “top-shelf bartender,” Kerrigan said the fallen barman had a way of genuinely caring for people.

“He had a way about him that I look to even still,” he said.

While future events haven’t been planned as yet, Kerrigan said more could be expected to honor Piscitelli’s memory.

“I loved him and there will be more love for him,” he said.