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ESPN awards Chickie's and Pete's 'Best Sports Bar in North America'

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Well the Phillies didn’t win the World Series, and the Eagles clearly aren’t going anywhere in 2011.

There is however, something sports-related in this town that does rank a cut above the rest.

Our own Chickie’s and Pete’s was voted the number one Sports Bar in North America by ESPN. And on Monday night, ESPN was on hand at the Chickie’s Packer Avenue location to officially bestow the honor to owner and crab maven Pete Ciarrocchi. Former Eagle Eric Allen and Pete Ciarrochhi. Photo: Joe Vallee Sr.

A full-fledged ceremony, which even consisted of mummers (something very close to Pete’s heart) featured Philadelphia Phillies and Eagles PA Announcer Dan Baker  as the master of ceremonies. Mayor Michael Nutter  and several city dignitaries also made a cameo appearance.

Former Philadelphia Eagle and ESPN analyst Eric Allen  presented Pete with a crystal bowl which was arranged to be filled with champagne by Chickie’s' Media Representative Michael Baldini.

Former Flyers Bob Kelly, Don Saleski, and Ed Hospodar  gave Ciarrocchi with a Flyers jersey bearing his last name, and Baker presented him with a Phillies jersey. Philadelphia Soul co-owner Craig Spencer and his wife Barbara were also in attendance and presented him a Soul jersey. And last but certainly not least, Ciarrocchi was given a jersey from the Philadelphia Union.

See the complete photo gallery on Philly2Philly's Facebook Page!

Oddly enough, the festivities took place on the eve of the 34th anniversary that Ciarrocchi’s parents (Pete Sr. and Henrietta aka “Chickie”) purchased the Robbins Avenue taproom in the Northeast, which ultimately became the first Chickie’s location.Pete Ciarrochhi from Chickie's and Pete's drinks of out the cup he was awarded by ESPN for winning Best Sports Bar in North America. Photo: Joe Vallee Sr.

Despite all of the accolades the establishment has received over the years, the early reception towards the bar was anything but favorable. In fact, a less-than flattering review from a Philadelphia news publication in January 1978 was read by Pete as he accepted the award. The previous location didn’t have bar stools. Moreover, they didn’t allow women in the bar, either.

“It just goes to show you the contrast of where I was then, with no bar stools, no women were allowed in, and where we came to now,” Ciarrocchi reflects.  

Ciarrocchi also credited his staff, the customers and all the sports fans in the area for helping make Chickie’s the success that it is today. Ciarrocchi was also quick to give praise to his wife Lisa and as his brother Tommy, for their unwavering support.  

Although Ciarrocchi’s parents layed the foundation for the franchise, which has locations from Bordentown, New Jersey to the Jersey shore (not including the numerous locations at the Philadelphia International Airport, shore boardwalk, sports stadiums and amusement parks), it was their son who took the brand to the next level. And according to Ciarrochhi, this is something not even his parents (who are now deceased) would think he could pull off. 

“They would never have believed that their son was able become the best at anything, let alone something as great as the best sports bar in North America,” Ciarrocchi laughed.

 

With the Chickie’s and Pete’s brand growing rapidly in addition to just being named the number one sports bar in all of North America, something tells me his parents would be very proud.

Contact Joe Vallee at jvallee@philly2philly.com

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Incredible photos by Joe Vallee Sr. (josephv985@aol.com)

Very special thanks to Bob Morrison for his quick thinking!