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Raising The Bar: How Offside Tavern is Coming Back Better Than Ever

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New York Islanders, Offside Tavern

New York City is known for its skyscrapers, endless food options, shows…you name it. What the city is not known for is its New York Islanders bars.

From 2017 to 2020, there was only one place where New York Islanders fans could gather to take in their favorite team, and that was Offside Tavern, owned and operated by Nick Costa, located at 137 West 14th St. But the pandemic forced the shutdown of the beloved bar.

With no real path for Costa to reopen Offside Tavern, he moved out of New York to Colorado for a fresh start.

“It was over. Like I couldn’t see a path to reopening, just because it’s so damn expensive,” Costa told NYI Hockey Now. “I poured every penny that I had into that place, and when I lost it, I lost it. So it was kind of a fresh start.”

Costa saw his Offside Tavern name live on when UBS Arena opened in the fall of 2021. The Islanders embraced a few fan fixtures, including an Offside Tavern bar located at Section 217.

“I’m more than humbled to have something that I created be commemorated inside UBS,” Costa said. “But that’s not my business. That is UBS. Arena. It’s still surreal when I walk by, and I see it and I just kind of laugh to myself and shake my head, that it’s a real thing because here I am, growing up. I idolized this team and these guys.”

“This ownership crew gets it there. They’re businessmen, sure, but they understand the fan base is what drives the team, not the other way around. And they want to make the fan base happy.”

But his bar in UBS could not replace nor replicate the tavern.

In July of 2021, as Costa and other Coloradans were gearing up for MLB All-Star Weekend at Coors Field, he received a call from his former manager Thomas Fischetti.

“He reached out to me and said, ‘Hey, I think there’s a pathway back. Is this something you want to do?'” Costa said. “And I was like f— yeah.”

Flash-forward a year and a half later, and Offside Tavern is preparing to reopen its doors at a new location.

Along with some of Costa’s Islander fan friends, NYI Hockey Now had the opportunity to take in Sunday’s New York Islanders game against the Seattle Kraken at the new location located at 94 Avenue A, at the corner of Avenue A & 6th St.

The bar is not open to the public yet as Costa and Fischetti are still waiting for their liquor license to be granted and still need a sign-off from the FDNY.

When the paperwork was initially filed, Costa was told that it could take seven to 10 months before everything was finalized and approved, and we are in between that timetable now.

“I’m hoping to be open before this article is published,” Costa joked. He’s eager to get going.

For fans that had the privilege to watch games at the original Offside Tavern, Costa shared what would be different at this new location.

“It has three, and currently, we’re sitting in the fourth distinctive room,” Costa said as we did the interview from a basement speakeasy that is still under construction. “There’s so much opportunity to throw fun events, to have fun parties with different atmospheres for our guests.”

“The one negative is it’s a little bit more difficult to get to via the Long Island Railroad. But I think the pros well outweigh the cons.”

For the other three rooms, located on the main floor, there’s a room with a standard bar-like setup for your casual bar attendee. Adjacent to that room is more of a hangout area, with a long table and a giant-sized television. And then in the back is a club-like area with a dance floor, couches, dimmed lights, and multiple TVs.

One cool feature about the party room is that there is an area where fans can sit and take pictures with “Yes Yes Yes” lights behind them. That should do rather well for the Instagram lovers out there.

New York Islanders

And then in the basement, you will find a speakeasy that is being renovated at the moment. Costa shared that he’s working on getting it soundproofed to give it that true relaxing, cut-off-from-society feel.

The search for this space was not an easy one as Fischetti looked at over 50 places.

“Thomas did most of the looking because I was still in Colorado at the time. He looked at over 50 places easily. And we were just trying to figure out a place that checked as many boxes as possible,” Costa said. And we were close on probably three other places other than this.”

“I’m so glad those all fell through because this place blows all of them out of the water, and it has all the check marks.”

Sean Cuthbert, the host of Hockey Night in New York, was on hand for Tuesday’s event and shared his thoughts.

“Big TV’s everywhere, an excellent space, and Nick and company do a phenomenal job making everyone feel at home whether you’re an Islanders fan or not,” Cuthbert told NYI Hockey Now.

Die-hard Islanders fan Eric Roth loved the old Offside Tavern and has been rooting for the comeback ever since the doors of the old place closed.

“Nick is such a good guy and to see someone like that lose their dream, you can only root hard for the comeback,” Roth said. “It was great to be back at a gathering place that is friendly to Islanders fans in the heart of Manhattan.”

“Even though there are a few things they are still working on, you could see that it is going to be a destination for us to watch and cheer on our team.”

For Nick Persaud, who runs Isles Territory, being back inside Offside Tavern felt like a family reunion.

“Being back at Offside the other night felt like getting back with family members you haven’t seen in a while,” Persaud told NYI Hockey Now. “The new location is amazing and I couldn’t be more happier for Nick. Being back with everyone watching an Islanders just felt right again.”

“The comeback of Offside Tavern is what this Islanders fan base needs and I know we can’t wait to rock the new place.”

Everyone makes mistakes in life, and Costa learned a lot from managing Offside Tavern, lessons that he will use to make sure the new location runs as smoothly as possible.

“Mistakes were made. Not on purpose, but it was my first time owning my own business,” Costa said. “Now coming into this place, none of those other mistakes are going to happen. And I’m just looking forward to the new mistakes that we’re going to make and correcting them immediately.”

“The way that the Nassau Coliseum was home, it was cute and it was ours, this is the UBS Arena to the Nassau Coliseum of Offside Tavern.”

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