Standings is a small sports bar at 43 E. Seventh St. between Second Avenue and Cooper Square... where, since owner Gary Gillis opened the place in 2005, civil fans gather to actually watch a game and not use it as an excuse to, say, drink 300 gallons of beer.
Ahead of the start of March Madness today, one of the biggest events of the year for sports-bar owners, Gillis — a New York Mets fan — answered a few questions via email about the challenging past year and making it work with a few curbside seats.
After a four-month closure, you reopened with curbside service last summer, playing radio broadcasts before switching to TVs in August. How have you been able to make it work given the myriad restrictions (curfews, winter storms that forced a city-mandated closure on Super Bowl Sunday) that are out of your control?
We reopened on July 22 with a Best Buy radio as a substitute for TVs. Best Buy had one type of radio in stock and it was perfect — Howie Rose never sounded so good to me!
We put TVs up in August in time for football and had good (well... good for a pandemic) crowds. Things were good when the weather was good — I lost a TV due to rain damage during a storm.
After Thanksgiving was when business slowed due to the chilly weather. We have a few electric heaters but they don't do much when it's 20 degrees and windy. In fact, we were closed roughly the same number of days
We were open in January and February. The 50-mph wind days were especially memorable! The 11 p.m. curfew stinks but to be honest we consider ourselves lucky to still be around given all the closures in the East Village and the overall horrendous impact of COVID on so many lives.
What has been the most challenging part of operating your business this past year?
The most challenging part of running the business in the past year is that COVID took away our main reason for being — talking/arguing about sports in close proximity with other fanatics.
Standings has very loyal fans. What do you have to say about their support?
I can't say enough about the support of our loyal customers. Sun, rain, 80 degrees or 20 degrees they showed up. We had to close for the Super Bowl due to the "snowstorm" and they organized a Super Bowl Squares fundraiser for the bar. I get emotional just typing about it.
The NCAA canceled March Madness in 2020. What are your expectations for March Madness this year — from a bar owner's perspective?
I expect much interest seeing as it was canceled last year. Due to our limited capacity with the pandemic restrictions, I anticipate we’ll have to turn some people away.
Any final 4 picks to share?
Final 4: Gonzaga, Baylor, Illinois, Connecticut.
And spring training continues. Anything to say about the Mets this 2021 season?
The Mets are going to finish 97-65 — mark it down.Burp Castle, the Belgian beer bar next door where patrons must keep their voices down. (No wooing!) Gillis also hopes to reopen with limited indoor seating there soon.
All photos via @StandingsNYC