Patrick Grillo Jr. and his wife Joanne will close the doors to Pat’s on June 30. The pair fondly remember all the customers who sat at their bar that they now think of as family.
“The people in that bar fell in love with my wife and me, and we fell in love with them,” Grillo said. “It’s going to be hard to leave, but it’s going to be a new chapter in my life.”
Grillo opened Pat’s in 2007 as a way to honor the memory of his deceased father.
“My father was a trailer driver but also worked as a bar manager in Long Island City for 10 years. So he always wanted a bar, and I said I’d get him a bar,” Grillo said. “I started looking around for a space in 2005. Meanwhile, my father passed away.”
Grillo previously worked in construction as a carpenter but always knew he wanted to work for himself. Throughout his life, he had various business ventures throughout western Queens.
“All my life, I wanted to work for myself. I opened a hot dog stand when I was 19. I opened candy stores, a deli, and then I went to work for a construction company,” Grillo said.
Grillo finally opened Pat’s, the business in which he would find the most passion with ties to his father’s memory. He worked especially hard to make Pat’s feel like a community hub, where everyone knew your name.
“I made it into a family bar because that’s what I grew up in,” Grillo said. “It’s a neighborhood bar. If you’re worried about your wife and you want to meet her at a bar after work, she can come in and I wouldn’t let anybody bother her. If you were a new customer or just moved into the neighborhood, I would make sure you would meet everybody — and that’s the way it should be.”
Pat’s Sports Bar hosted birthday parties, fundraisers, Christmas, Labor Day and Fourth of July parties that always drew a crowd throughout the years.
Grillo and his wife Joanne are retiring and moving to Florida in August after living in Queens their entire lives.
When looking back, Grillo believes he was so well-liked in the community because of his giving nature.
“My wife says I have a very big heart,” Grillo said. “I care about people. If someone’s not working, I’ll put them to work and make them a bartender so they have money on them.”
Pat’s Sports Bar struggled through the COVID-19 pandemic, like many other businesses in the hospitality industry. Pat’s stayed open only three days a week to serve food.
“The pandemic knocked me on my ass,” Grillo said. “We spent two years trying to stay open, but everyone in this neighborhood helped us out. The locals and regulars were buying food just to keep me going. They were good; for a $10 dish, they would give me a $20 bill.”
One longtime friend and regular at Pat’s, Janet Augustyn, said that Grillo and Joanne will be missed in Middle Village and the community will never forget the loving environment fostered at their bar.
“His patrons were like a family to him and his generosity showed for many years, especially in his love of cooking and setting up for us at parties and barbecues,” Augustyn said. “He also has been involved in hosting for various charities dear to his heart and dart leagues as well.”
Pat’s Sports Bar was covered wall-to-wall in photos and Yankee memorabilia that was sentimental to Grillo. He said he gave it all away to his customers.
“Pictures of me, pictures of stars, footballs, baseball bats — whatever I had, I gave to them because they kept me alive for 15 years. Without them, I’m nobody,” Grillo said. “There are a lot of customers that are family now; they’re not just customers.”
On June 25, Pat’s Sports Bar will have one last get-together with all the regular customers to celebrate the joy and love the business brought to the community and Grillo’s life.