Thanks to the royalties I collect from writing for this magazine, I recently had the opportunity to open up my second bar. After winning the first one in a card game, I consider myself a pretty lucky guy. The new one is called Sancho Pistola’s. In an effort not to use this column to plug my own life, I originally tried to write this without mentioning the bar’s name, but after a while, it seemed dumb. Not to mention, a certain business partner of mine would’ve killed me. Besides, this article isn’t about the bar, it’s about where the bar lives.
I’m as shocked as you are. When I say you, I don’t mean the 80% of my friends that apparently live there, I mean people like me that have heard it’s up and coming for the last ten years but have rarely seen it. It’s way different than I thought. For example, we’ve been there a little over two months, and I’m not dead yet. My guess a year ago would be that I would’ve been murdered or run over easily by now. We’re a block from being underneath the freakin’ El. You would think it’d be a warzone. As it turns out, it seems to be a pretty safe and vibrant community.
Fishtown has all types of great stuff. I never thought in a million years I’d own a bar where I can walk to a casino, a brewery, and a batting cage. We even somehow landed, again, within a block of a Gold Club Gentlemen’s Club. Even the homeless seem to have great pride in the neighborhood. I literally saw one guy about to fight a guy while repeatedly yelling “Fishtown.” Luckily, the second man was all in his head so there was no actual violence. As a reward for his civic pride, I told him how to get into our neighboring 7-Eleven’s bathroom. I could go on and on, way over my word count, so here’s a quick list of some of the things that stand out for me in our new home.
No mode of transportation is as charming as the trolley. With its weird little noises and its five-mile an hour speed, it seems more like a big toy. I love them. Sometimes, there are two outside at once. We have actual trolley traffic. I love how you have to wait for the trolley on those horrible little islands in the middle of the street. You can tell who the more experienced trolley riders are on these islands. They’re the ones in the middle with people on their sides to brace the impact of drunk guys in old Chevy Novas. I have no idea where they go, and I’m never getting on one, but trolleys rule.
I’m pushing 40 pretty hard and I’ve never been able to figure out exactly what a hipster is. I was always told the tightness of jeans was key, but never met anyone who owned up to it. Until now. Fishtown is home to the first people I’ve met who not only admit to being hipsters, they flat out tell me they don’t really like non-hipsters. I appreciate the honesty, just surprised they’d tell me. I certainly can’t come off as a fellow hipster. I can’t even ride a bike much past ten feet. They do seem to like the music I listened to when I was a teenager, so we have that in common. Anyway, they’re very nice people who think we charge too much for tacos.
I’m severely on record with my hatred of graffiti, tagging, and vandalism in general. Saying that, there is a wall of artistic spray paint across the street from us that is so cool, I hope it’s deemed historic. This city will make anything historic. Jose Pistola’s is a historic building because it was once a store or something else that no one will ever care about. Somehow, that wall symbolizes my experience with Fishtown in that I seem to really like the things I thought I would’ve hated.
Nothing beats having good neighbors in this business. We’re surrounded by fantastic bars who have welcomed us with open arms and free pizza, among other things. Even our residential neighbors have been pretty understanding as we try to figure out our dumpster nightmares. There is definitely a feeling that everyone in the area is in it together and I’m thrilled to be a part of something like that. I feel much more a part of Fishtown’s community than I do Wyndmoor’s, or wherever the hell I live.