Anyone who knows me even the slightest knows that I’m not a sports guy. I pay no attention to the Super Bowl or the World Series. I hate golf and I refuse to watch bowling. But . . . some friends do have me hooked on one particular sports event here in Los Gatos, Monday Night football at Number One Broadway.
The good-looking owner of the place, Gail, insisted for several weeks that I come to their Monday Night shin-dig to kick back and enjoy. I blew it off. I really didn’t need to be around a bunch of drunk punks hooting and hollering and getting sloppy stupid. Not my cup of tea.
Gail is taller than I and she threatened to shorten me even more if I didn’t show up. Her hubby, Jim (the not-so-good-looking other owner of Number One) told me to show up at least once because she’d never let me hear the end of it otherwise.
So a few weeks ago I took the elevator up the one flight of stairs at Broadway and Santa Cruz avenues at about 5 p.m. I found Gail loading up a couple of restaurant chaffing dishes and Chantel, the very delightful weekend cocktail waitress, dressed in a football jersey and taking on the role of bartender for the evening. I asked if I could help set up but Gail just told me to relax.
The room remained empty except for the three of us right up until 5:30 when the game was supposed to start. Jimmy came in the door with the first of several pots of fresh-cooked chili. He made one batch and Gail had made another, one was vegetarian and one had meat. The chili was scooped into some chaffing liners and the Sterno was lit.
For those of you who don’t know, Jim is a very unique bar owner; he’s a vegetarian, a flower gardener, an avid bike rider, very soft spoken, he religiously walks his rescued dog and he loves to tease me about being short.
By six o’clock, all of the bar stools had people sitting in them but all of the people were familiar, which I was not expecting. Basically, the folks who had showed up were friends and relatives of Gail and Jimmy.
The reason for Chantel’s one bar-tending shift each week is so that the regular bartenders could come in and enjoy the Monday evening on the other side of the bar.
There were a number of longtime regulars and a pool game was started. To some extent, everyone knew everyone else and the only guy anywhere near the tender age of 21 was one someone’s son who had just finished a bike ride with his uncle who was also in attendance.
Slowly, more and more people showed up and all were warmly greeted by Jim and Gail. This “chili cook off” was more like a casual, early Thanksgiving dinner than some raucous, drunken early week beer drinking contest.
The chaffing dishes were refilled a couple of times and a tall, blonde woman brought in a large tray of ultra-sweet, really good home made brownies. I sat back and looked the place over, almost no one was paying attention to the big-screen TVs. And it struck me, Number One was like Gail and Jimmy’s ultra large living room. Everyone was comfortable and kicking back discussing this thing or that, and because of the different chilies, a lot of recipes were being traded.
I had told a few of my friends about this new addition to the Los Gatos sports fare and they showed up and as they walked through the door, they drew wide, pleasantly surprised smiles across their lips. This was a nice surprise.
Now, I guess you can call this an advertisement if you want. I mean I am getting free food when I go there, but this is more of a low-key invitation to others in town who might enjoy an easy, odd night out without having to make plans or fight traffic and parking. I know that Jimmy wouldn’t mind having a few more people join us there so he can sell a couple of more drinks to help pay for all the food they get together. And it’s always good to meet new folks our age and not in a smokey, intense bar room setting. While this isn’t the “fern bar” setting that Number One was originally built for, with over stuffed couches and lounge chairs, but is comfortable, mellow and easily engaging.
I hope some of you will join Jimmy and Gail and us, Monday-Night regulars, to take advantage of this great excuse to take it easy together, football or no.