NEW YORK -- The unofficially official Seattle Seahawks bar in New York City didn’t get its start when Seattle last went to a Super Bowl in 2006.
It didn’t start when a 7-9 Seahawks team went to the playoffs in 2010 and beat the New Orleans Saints in the Wild Card round.
It didn’t start last season when Russell Wilson was leading comeback-after-comeback, either.
It started in the Jim Mora era. That lone, sad 5-11 season in 2009.
That’s how you know Carlow East and the Seahawks fans who go there every Sunday during the NFL season are for real.
“We got in the ground floor and it wasn’t fun that year to watch the team, but we operated like a family out of here and that was the beginning of the family,” said bartender Pat Shalvoy, who has helped build this little hole-in-the-wall tavern into a safe haven for the 12th Man no matter where they come from.
How to get to Carlow East
“We want people in the Northwest to know that when they come to New York, they have a place to go,” said Shalvoy.
Three years before Shalvoy decided to help make Carlow East what it is now, a group of New York Seahawks fans were nomads. They had a watch group that would move from bar-to-bar, but never quite found a home.
Shalvoy was impressed by their loyalty to the team and finally offered to put a roof over their heads.
“Observing East Coast fans the way I do, Seattle fans are not like that. They live and die for their team,” said Shalvoy. “In New York, it’s a real ‘show me’ atmosphere. The interest waxes and wanes depending on how the teams are doing. Hawk fans live and die with this team, that’s what I love about it. That’s where my desire to become a Seattle Seahawks fan came from.”
On a regular season Sunday, fans start showing up a half-hour before kickoff. For this year’s postseason games, Shalvoy said they were lining up out the door three hours before kickoff.
They’re expecting it to be even busier this Sunday when the Seahawks face the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XLVIII, just across the Hudson River at MetLife Stadium.
It’s so big, Shalvoy has to sell tickets. He is teaming up with two sister bars – McSwiggans and O’Flanagan’s. They are almost booked, too. But as of Wednesday afternoon, there was still room at O’Flanagan’s.
To get a ticket, you can message Carlow East on Facebook or come into the bar and get more information when you arrive.
Don’t get confused when you get there. They’ve temporarily changed the name outside the bar to “Hawks Nest East.”
There will be food available on Sunday, but on any other day of the week, Carlow East is a watering hole.
“Cold beer. Warm whiskey. We don’t have a kitchen here, man. This is a tavern," said Shalvoy.
Shalvoy expects the Seahawks to win Sunday. But even if they don’t, he promises that Seahawks fans will still have a home.
“It’s important to know me that people know we aren’t a bandwagon bar,” said Shalvoy. “This is who we are now. It’s incorporated into our identity.”
When the Seahawks were last in New York in December, the bar hosted an 800-person tailgate party outside MetLife Stadium. They raised $7,000 for Ronald McDonald House and a toy drive.