Cheers! Peggy Kinnane’s serves up Marquette basketball in Chicago’s Northwest suburbs
By Chris Jenkins
Photo courtesy Ed Taicsich, Arts ’76
Hoping to break up the monotony of a drab February a few years ago, Jim Bristol figured it might be fun to go watch Marquette basketball take on Louisville at his favorite local pub — Peggy Kinnane’s in Arlington Heights, Ill.
So Bristol, Bus Ad ’77, asked a few of his friends if they might want to join him. They put the word out to a few of their friends … and 75 people showed up.
“We took over about half the bar!” Bristol says.
Fast forward to Marquette’s much-hyped game against Ohio State at the beginning of the 2012–13 season, which was to be played on the deck of an aircraft carrier. The game wound up being canceled because of moisture on the deck — but for the 130-plus fans at Peggy’s that night, it didn’t put too much of a damper on the party.
“Then they canceled the game — and nobody went home,” Bristol says. “The Marquette crowd’s kind of thirsty.”
The Marquette crowd has been a boost to business for Derek Hanley, the bar’s owner. After coming to the U.S. from Ireland in 1985 and spending time in New York, Boston and Los Angeles, he settled in Chicago 17 years ago. He started the bar 12 years ago, naming it after his mother who still lives in Ireland.
That’s how Hanley met Bristol, who was working for the company developing the building and supervising the build-out of retail spaces. The two became friends, and Bristol became a regular.
“My crowning achievement in life to date is that I helped to build an Irish pub within walking distance of my home,” Bristol says, with a laugh.
Hanley wasn’t out to create a sports bar; the entire interior of the bar came from Ireland, an attempt to retain authenticity. But as Bristol kept bringing more Marquette fans in recent years, Hanley has added televisions — including a 100-inch screen that drops down behind the live music stage.
He also puts out a free chili bar during big games.
“It’s great,” Hanley says of Marquette fans. “It’s fun, it’s exciting. You can feel the buzz — of course, especially when they’re winning, everybody’s pumped up. It gets loud. In a good way.”
Several other Chicago-area establishments host Marquette game-watching parties, including Schoolyard Tavern, Blue Bayou, Four Shadows Tavern and Grill and The Hidden Shamrock in Chicago; Emmett’s Brewing Company in Downers Grove; O’Sullivan’s Public House in Forest Park, Grandpa’s and McGovern’s Public House in Glenview; and Quigley’s Irish Pub in Oak Lawn.
At Peggy’s, Bristol wants to make the group even bigger and continues to send out reminders before big games to his ever-growing email list. In conjunction with the Marquette University Alumni Association, the group has done ticket-raffle fundraisers for the Marquette Club of Chicago Endowed Scholarship fund.
And when a former Marquette basketball player who lives in the area, Bill Downey, needed a lift to come watch a game at Peggy’s, Bristol was more than happy to go pick him up. Bristol says Downey shared stories about playing against Hall of Famer George Mikan.
The game-watching group at Peggy’s spans a wide range of ages, from recent graduates to young families with children and up through the years.
“We’ve got alums, consistently, from the '60s, the '70s, the '80s and of course newer ones,” Bristol says. “It’s been a wide range. The crowds have been good and have been growing.”
Bristol figures it’s even a recruiting tool for prospective students.
“I know one family in particular, their kid’s at Marquette right now,” Bristol says. “I don’t know whether coming to watch basketball games at Peggy’s had anything to do with it, but certainly they got a feel for the Marquette alums just by hanging around.”
Interested in finding a game watching party in your area? Visit Marquette's basketball events site.