George Miller, Bartender
Will Veber, Resident Pundit
Many of us feel that Herky is like a neighborhood sports bar, where people can be with their friends, shoot the breeze, and enjoy each other's company while cheering for our Hawkeyes... Will Veber took the ball and ran with it...
'Herky's' has the best hamburgers, the best pizza, the best steaks, and the best pork chops a person could find. On football Saturdays, George wheels out a big grill in front of the place and cooks the best chicken breast sandwiches and Amana brats (with lots of sauerkraut and Boetje's mustard) that you'll ever have. You can smell the place three blocks away. One night a week, George has his chef cook up some cajun specials and some of the regulars get together to play jazz in the pub. They have a great brass section and it's a large time.
The 'Herky Pub' is not a huge place. The pub seats, maybe, 150 people, but George says that he has upwards of 800 to 1000 people who walk in the door each day. It has a lot of woodwork with a nice bar on the south side of the building. There are a number of televisions throughout the place to watch all the Hawkeye action, no matter where you are standing or sitting. There is Iowa sports memorabilia all over the walls with autographed footballs and basketballs in a case by the front door. There is a sign on the wall that George got from someone who got it from the locker room at Kinnick that says, "Noble in Victory - Gracious in Defeat". George thinks it embodies the true spirit of the 'Herky Pub.'
I stumbled into the place about a year ago. I was looking for a nice place to talk about Iowa sports. I tried a couple of other joints and those places were full of no-named people, or those who hid behind nicknames who wanted to start fights over trivial items when you wanted to give your opinions about Iowa sports. Since I found the 'Herky Pub', I've been classified a regular. In fact, my wife thinks I spend too much time at 'Herky's', but she has been warming up to the place since I've introduced her to some of the people I've been conversing with over the last year..
You can find George, most working hours, behind the bar, listening to discussions of Iowa sports and other subjects, occasionally piping up with observations of his own. Lately, George has been getting busier and he's had to rely upon some of the regulars to help out. He hates to ask, but some of the patrons have sensed that George is getting a little stressed and he needs the help. So, we help out behind the bar when we can so George can go home and spend some time with his wife and new baby. Or, if George justs wants to sit down and take a break, you can be certain one of the regulars brings him a drink.
It's a diverse group, in both age and vocations. It makes the place much more interesting. I'm in sales and marketing, and as I look around the place I see a couple doctors, some administrators, there's an ad guy over there. Over here, we have a guy who works for a TV station, someone over here who works in radio, and my buddy who is the business manager for Student Health Services just walked in the door.
There's the mysterious guy who flies to Brazil a lot, and we have some college students who come in from time to time who like to listen to the old-timers talk about the days of long ago in Iowa sports. There are accountants and, of course, there is the lawyer who we look to for the definitive answer from time to time.
We get Iowa 'ex-patriots' now living in other states or foreign countries that visit the 'Herky Pub'. I get accused, sometimes, of not sticking to the topics at hand because I'll fill them in on what's going on around here other than what's happening in the world of Iowa sports. And though some don't say it, I know it makes them long for their days in Iowa.
We have factory workers and executives; the teachers and teachers-to-be, as well as engineers and engineers-to-be. Lately, we've been welcoming more women that have been coming in and talking. We even have a reverend pop in every once in a while. We rub his head for the highest form of hope and luck during close games and when Alvin Robinson shoots free throws. The roster of regulars changes throughout the day, but one thing we all have in common is that we are Hawkeye fans, first and foremost.
Many of the regulars stand around the bar, and there are the other patrons who sit at tables around the place and carry on conversations in their small groups or just have a tendency to sit, watch, and listen. Every once in a while someone from the tables will come up to the bar to get a round of drinks and while waiting for their turn to order, they, too, get into the discussion with some of the people at the bar. After George brings them their order, they head back to their tables.
Sometimes, the talk turns from Iowa sports to subjects such as a person's hometown, a favorite restaurant from back home, or a famous athlete, actor, or politician who grew up down the block from one of us. We'll hear the occasional complaint from some who say that they didn't come into 'Herky's' to listen to a person's life history, but George tolerates it, to a degree, and the regulars enjoy it because it allows us to get to know each other a little better. Some of these conversations have led to realizations on my part that a person that I met at the 'Herky Pub' is a friend of a friend, relative, or an associate of mine. The 'Herky Pub' just makes the world a little smaller place for us all.
The 'Herky Pub' started like any other business, small and non-descript. George had a short budget and didn't advertise like some of the other big establishments that catered to Iowa sports. George had about six regulars coming into the place on a daily basis and business got a little better each week through 'word-of-mouth' advertising. About a year ago, a small article in a magazine brought George more business. While George welcomed the business, he began to worry that maybe things were getting too big, too fast.
The 'Herky Pub' is a 'square establishment' and no shenanigans are tolerated. As business grew, an occasional stranger would come in and try and start trouble with some of the regulars. Even though the regulars would listen to what the person had to say, invariably, this person would cross over the boundry line and start to rile some of the patrons. George used to step in and let the person know that they were out of bounds. However, as the place grew, it seemed that the demand on George's time behind the bar made it so some of the regulars had to step in and remind the offending person about the house rules.
It wasn't until about three months ago that business began to sky rocket. An article in a larger publication came out about the 'Herky Pub' and suddenly George found that business was booming. But with this unprecedented growth, George began to see more people coming through the door who didn't want to play by the house rules.
Some of these new customers would spout off and try and start trouble. Some of them would not follow the rules of the house. Some of the troublemakers would immediately take issue with another person's opinion mainly to try and start an argument, or worse yet, a fight. George knows he doesn't need that type of publicity.
Generally, the troublemaker is confronted by George and is stopped in his tracks. I know that George has kicked two or three people out while he's been running the 'Herky Pub', but he's let them back in, but not without a stern warning when he allowed them back in his place. One of the great things about the 'Herky Pub' is that I've never seen a fight in here like I had at the other places I used to frequent to talk about Iowa sports. George is a nice guy, but he's also the 'Czar of the Bar'. We've learned his word is final.
The one thing that is true with the majority of people who come into the 'Herky Pub' is that they value and honor each other's opinions. Some may disagree with an opinion, but they don't start 'holy wars' because of it. Facts at 'Herky's' are backed up with either statistics, history, or first-hand knowledge. Rumors are generally squelched by many at 'Herky's' when that person cannot substantiate the rumor. And rude behavior and personal attacks aimed at 'Herky Pub' clientle and/or subjects is the quickest way to feel the wrath of George and others.
We have fun at the 'Herky Pub'. George has a sign above the bar that says, "Lighten Up!!! It's Not Life or Death" I think I speak for all who want George to keep his doors open for many years. I think he will, as long as it doesn't become a hassle. And it shouldn't be a hassle as long as those who are accustomed to 'bullying' patrons at other establishments realize that just doesn't cut it at the 'Herky Pub'.
George welcomes everyone who wants to come in, but he's quick to point out that there are rules that we all can live by at the 'Herky Pub.' If those who don't want to follow the rules continue their abhorrent behavior, they will be asked to leave. George set the rules for his place and he'll be more than happy to discuss what's square and what isn't at the 'Herky Pub', privately. If George isn't available, I'm sure one of the regulars can help out.
Well, got to go home, now. I promised my wife I'd go to some function with her tonight. But, you can bet I'll pop into the 'Herky Pub' for one last cold one before bedtime.