Max McNair had no idea what the Elm was when he moved to Denver from his home state of New Hampshire a little more than three years ago. But the place he moved into in Park Hill was only a few blocks away from the neighborhood bar, and so he decided to check it out. What he found was a place run by a few guys from Boston.
It reminded him of home.
The Elm, which bills itself as a neighborhood bar that supports Boston sports, is now one of the more popular spots for Patriots’ fans on football Sundays. That sense of home that McNair mentioned seems to be a common theme among Denver’s Boston- or Philadelphia-centric bars. Chris Topham, a Philadelphia native and co-owner of Asbury Provisions near the University of Denver, says this football season has been one of the best that he can remember.
This Sunday, when Super Bowl LII kicks off, both Topham and McNair expect their bars to be packed to the brim.
At the Elm, McNair—who started working at the bar as a bartender and is now the general manager—says they’re going to move the pool table out onto the patio to make room for more people. But the best part of being a Boston-centric bar, he says, has more to do with folks who have been coming in for years and treating his bar like it’s a home base—regardless of how the season’s going. If you ask Topham, he’ll tell you the exact same thing.
“We’re a proud, full-throated Eagles bar,” Topham says. “We had a couple of guys from Philly who couldn’t stop saying how happy they were about finding us and have been coming in ever since. That’s the kind of stuff that we love, too, because being a transplant in a new city can be tough.”
Of course, for New England, the seasons have all been pretty good lately. The Pats have won five Super Bowls since 2002—an absurd number no doubt—which has itself led to a bit of resentment among fans of other teams. “My favorite Super Bowl win was the first one, when we were underdogs,” McNair says. “Now everyone hates us. People look at it like: death, taxes, and the New England Patriots.”
Topham reports a similar sentiment, though for reasons that have more to do with off-the-field fan behavior than on-the-field team performance. As CBS Sports put it, Philly fans are “the absolute worst.” But Chuck Turner, general manager at Larimer Beer Hall, which flies an Eagles flag on Sundays, says that his experience with Philly fans over the years “couldn’t have been better.”
As they say, haters gonna hate—it doesn’t bother these diehard fans. Clearly, it’s never been about what anyone else thinks. That’s how it was in Philly or Boston, and that’s how it is here in Denver at Philly or Boston bars. People like Topham, Turner, and McNair just want their places to be somewhere that, to football fans, feel like home.