Community Spotlight: Mitch Pacyna
Q: Gee, I wonder where you’ll be watching Sunday’s big game? Describe what you’ll expect for Super Bowl Sunday in your marvelous man cave.
A: “Super Bowl Sunday is very big to us. Many friends from Chicago and California come to visit us and stay on the island for four days to a week every year. We usually have 16 to 20 friends come and visit. We enjoy a BYOB and share-a-plate beach barbeque. We play games and have many stories to catch up on. Many local friends also stop by.”
Q: You’re not the first person to turn a garage into a sports lounge, but yours is hard to miss, being at the corner of Hercules Drive and Estero Boulevard. Any stories about people just popping in, or thinking you’re an actual business?
A: “We have had many occasions where people walking by, or coming from beach access 21, stop in for a roll of quarters, water, alcohol, and even ask if we make sandwiches, thinking this was a real business bar. We have gone to the beach or fishing on our pier, come back and have people sitting at our bar waiting for a bartender. We can’t sell anything, but usually offer them a drink and tell them the closest real bar is Junkanoo’s. Probably the best story is when these four young people from Germany stopped in for a drink, thinking it was a bar. We told them it wasn’t and they went to Publix to buy drinks and snacks, came back, and we enjoyed hours of talk and fun with them. We became good friends and still keep in contact with each other on Facebook. They returned back for a visit last year for two of them to have their marriage ceremony on the beach.”
Q: How did this all come about?
A: “It all started nine years ago when my wife, Mary, and I moved here. It actually was a garage, but we use to sit on paint buckets and have some drinks with neighbors. Mary and I had about 300 coozies from many trips and didn’t know what to do with them. We decided to hang them on ropes on the ceiling and it all began. My daughter Michelle happened to call me from my hometown of Franklin Park, Ill. to tell me my ex was renovating the home and asked if me or my friends wanted the bar that my Dad, Matt, and best friend Cary had built. I asked her if someone could just cut off a corner and ship it to me for the memories. The whole bar top actually was embedded photos of family and friends growing up. It ended up that my dear friends Neil, Rich and Bob and my godson Brian took the whole bar top off and shipped it to me. The bar top is actually 40 years old now and shows signs of great wear and tear. From then on we purchased five TVs and 13 bar stools. We don’t have anything of real value there, but the memories are all valuable to us.”
Q: Is that all your stuff in there, or do people contribute?
A: “Through the years we have had many contributions to the bar, including Chicago memorabilia, alcohol history, school memories and many nick-knacks from all over. Usually, visitors bring a little more to add. We also have many items from our hometown sports club, the Hustlers, who are now in its 53rd year. My friends Gary and Dave actually built and shipped us from Chicago a corn-hole game for the bar.”
Q: Your man cave has a Chicago flavor. Does this open the door to debates with Packers fans and the like?
A: “We are mainly a Chicago bar and Chicago sports are featured on our TVs, but we will allow Packers fans and other sports-teams fans to watch their game if a Chicago team isn’t on. But they are not allowed to hang any of their items.”
Q: OK, who wins it on Sunday – Panthers or Broncos?
A: “Go Panthers!”
(Community Spotlight features a resident each week who has an interesting occupation, activity, or story to tell. Please submit subjects you feel are worthy of some recognition to editor John Morton by calling 765-0400, ext. 102, or by email at email@example.com)