Some are blessed with the geographic advantage of living within a Milwaukee television market. Others, a New England market. Some a Denver, and some others a Pittsburgh.
Growing up in a Philadelphia market was great. Marquee NFC East showdowns, highlighted by endless Eli faces and Joe Buck verbal masterpieces.
When I elected to take my (limited) academic talents to Central New York, I neglected to consider any NFL ramifications. It’s a Buffalo Bills market up here. Yes, a Bills market. You’d be appalled (and to a degree, offended) by how much Tyrod Taylor I’ve watched in the last three years.
Luckily, there’s a place in Upstate New York where “markets” cease to exist. A place that Google Maps alludes to as a “Sports Bar & Grill With Many TVs.” A place where you’ll ask the waitress to change the channel of your closest television and they’ll respond with “Yeah, I’ll get the manager to do that, I don’t have that type of authority.” A place where the man sitting behind you will order an apple pie and an apple pie only and then ask for soccer to be put on his nearest television.
Tully’s (Good Times) on Erie Boulevard has it all.
It all starts with a quick perusal of the local television listings on Wednesday morning. “Do we get the Eagles game here on Sunday?” I ask myself with a sort of cautiously optimistic whim. “No, we do not” I sigh to myself, upon realizing we only get one 1 o’clock game, and it’s Tyrod Taylor’s Bills.
I then whip out my phone and text the boys who enjoy the Good Times as much as I do. We love the Eagles, and agree that Tully’s (Good Times) certainly is the move for that Sunday afternoon.
Friday and Saturday are spent mindlessly filling the time leading up to the penultimate Good Times that will be had on Sunday afternoon. At 11:45 on Sunday morning, I roll out of bed and jump in the shower quick. I get dressed in my Good Times best, I jump in my Ford Explorer, pick up the boys, and trot down 690 East that leads to Tully’s (Good Times). The car ride playlist is solely comprised of musical tunes alluding to Good Times. Good Times by Chic is, of course, the headliner. But, Celebration by Kool and the Gang of course is a staple as well.
In the Tully’s (Good Times) parking lot, there’s a massive turtle sculpture or figurine or mascot (or something, I honestly couldn’t tell you), and as soon as I feast my eyes on that shelled beast, I know the Good Times are just about to get started. I pull past the gaudy sculpture and hope to find an open slot among the mass of automobiles.
Assuming there’s a vacant spot, I pull in, jump out, and head for the door. Immediately, I’m greeted by delightfully friendly hostesses dressed in their football Sunday best. “Welcome to Tully’s!” they emphatically exclaim, despite their Giants attire and my Eagles Mitchell & Ness apparel.
“Table for four,” I ask, giddy to get seated in time for the Eagles 1 o’clock kick.
Before I can even wedge myself into the booth, a good-hearted waitress greets us with a bowl of complimentary popcorn and an offer to put some drinks in. I request a water and the Eagles game to be put on the nearest screen. But, the nearest screen is not always so obvious. From my seat, 20 or so TV’s are within a rather unobstructed sightline. No, like, seriously. There are televisions everywhere. Like, there is no dead space on the walls, anywhere, save a couple of cabinets filled with Syracuse memorabilia.
Before I can even take the first sip of my water, the only person trusted enough with the television remote is at my table changing our desired television to the Eagles broadcast.
Unfortunately, today FOX did NOT broadcast the national anthem, but had they, I might have had to conduct a social experiment and either kneel in my booth or raise my fist in protest, just to see how the Tully’s (Good Times) faithful (both employees and customers) would react to my political statement. Central New York seems to generally be largely Trump country (I’m just speaking from my experiences at the New York State Fair), so I can’t imagine this political display would go over swimmingly. But, Tully’s has to at least be tolerant of my display. Their establishment is named “Tully’s (Good Times).” They can’t necessarily get mad at me when my definition of “Good Times” is a peaceful politically motivated protest during a broadcasted National Anthem. As far as I’m concerned, if my display augments my level of Good Times, Tully’s (Good Times) has no choice but to allow my statement.
Anyways, that’s an experiment that will have to wait until next week. Certainly will keep you guys posted.
Once the Eagles game kicks, the Tully’s (Good Times) experience is a constant stream of popcorn bowls, tender platters, diet pepsi waterfalls, and endless trips to the bathroom.
There’s also one man who works at Tully’s (Good Times) who has a kitchen apron embroidered with an Eagles logo. See, that’s the type of restaurant I want to eat at. One that allows and encourages deliberate and obvious expressions of NFL fandom as part of employees’ attire. Also, this man has an Eagles tattoo. He’s part of the Eagles family. Always, he walks past our table and we catch up about the game at hand quick and briefly fire off some takes for each other. I can’t remember why he’s an Eagles fan, but I remember when he explained it to us, it didn’t really make much sense. But, he’s got a Birds tattoo and went through the effort of embroidering his chef outfit with an Eagles patch, so needless to say, he’s a friend of mine.
Now, I must divert for just a second. While the Tully’s (Good Times) experience is exquisite to the fullest extent of that adjective, it is not without its flaws.
Today, for example, our popcorn refill average time (PRAT) was a bit higher than we’d like. In fact, until we requested a second bowl in the waning moments of the third quarter, no more complimentary bowls were brought out or offered. Now, this minor snafu slid under the radar during the Eagles beatdown, but it surely was a crashing down to earth moment when I realized that our popcorn had not been refilled since Carson’s first touchdown pass.
Another minor area for improvement: What’s up with the music? While it’s certainly great to have visual access to ALL THE GAMES, somewhere along the line, Tully’s (Good Times) management decided that rather than selecting to play one game’s audio across the entirety of the restaurant, they’d be better off playing an assorted mix of pop and classic hits at a volume level that’s just loud enough for me to pay attention to every song. It’s weird when I’m trying to hear the verdict of my team’s challenge but the only thing I can make out is JT’s Sexy Back emanating from somewhere behind the bar. Even more disconcerting, Sexy Back then turns into Springsteen’s Dancing in the Dark. While I usually appreciate musical selections that keep me on edge, a football Sunday isn’t the time or place for that added anxiety considering I’m trying to keep up with Eagles/Cardinals, Giants/Chargers, and Red Zone going quad-box.
And I know this is nitpicking, but why are there not televisions in the bathroom? There should be televisions in the bathroom. No reason I should be missing a kickoff after a commercial break just because my seventh Diet Pepsi sent me peeing for the 4th time.
What really makes the Tully’s (Good Times) atmosphere so unparalleled is the crowd. There’s the “after church decked out in my Sunday best” crowd. There’s the “I go to Syracuse and my parents are visiting from home this weekend and this is literally the only restaurant that I know has televisions in this area, so I’m coming here” crowd. There’s the standard “family of mom, dad and three kids just off of the soccer field and want to eat something other than orange slices, so we came to Tully’s (Good Times)” crowd. And then, of course, there’s the “We literally never get my NFL team’s games in this god awful market so I come and sit here for three and a half hours every fall Sunday to live and die with my squad” crowd.
Today, there was a large Eagles population spread sporadically throughout the restaurant, which led to speckled applauses across the establishment after each of Carson’s TD dimes. It’s nice that even in Central New York, I can feel like part of a Philadelphia football family.