There is an undeniable link between sports and bars. While we could certainly have one without the other, there is something about the energy of the environment that makes the pairing perfect. Many sports fans have a lucky sports bar they go to for all their team’s games. This year, with the limited attendance at stadiums and limited capacity at sports bars, sports fans have felt nostalgic for the energy of both.
"We’ve been kicked down and restricted so much in the last year. It has started to show. This is giving us a reason to pop our shoulders back and put our chin back up. You can just feel the excitement now.”
With the Fish Market receiving support from the Barstool Fund, we can finally see a little bit of that energy, or at least hope, coming back. On January 29th, 2021, Jesse Maas, Director of Operations at the Fish Market, was sitting in his car in DC outside of Bar Deco to meet with employees for their 2020 W-2s (even though the location has not yet reopened during the pandemic). As he sat in his car, he received an unexpected FaceTime call from Dave Portnoy of Barstool Sports announcing that the Fish Market had received funding from the Barstool Fund. The fund is intended to provide assistance to businesses around the country experiencing hardship due to COVID-19. In a video posted on Portnoy’s Twitter that received over 300k views, Jesse’s face is filled with joy and relief. To him, this is a game-changer. “Restaurants are all about the energy. We’ve been kicked down and restricted so much in the last year. It has started to show. This is giving us a reason to pop our shoulders back and put our chin back up. You can just feel the excitement now.”
Jesse has always been a huge fan of Barstool Sports, a digital media company with a focus on sports and pop culture. The site catches visitors up on daily viral highlights and news through blogs, podcasts, and videos. It’s a sports junkie’s dream and it provides a great way to catch up in sports talk. Jesse’s favorite parts of the website are the pizza reviews and listening to the founder, Dave Portnoy’s, political talks. When he saw what the Barstool Sports Fund was doing for local restaurants around the country, he had to give it a go.
Portnoy began the Barstool Sports Fund with a 30-day fundraising campaign on December 17th, 2020. He kicked it off with $500,000 of his own money and has grown the campaign to $36 million. The campaign is still going strong with the support of Stoolies (his followers), and even celebrities like Guy Fieri, Tom Brady, and Aaron Rodgers. The Barstool Fund has now helped support almost 300 businesses, including but not limited to those in the restaurant industry
The Fish Market has been a family-owned restaurant since 1976, having changed ownership once in 2008. “We’re all about family here and many of our employees have been here up to 30 years with very low turnover. We also have customers who still come in and talk to us about having their first drink or their first job with us.” The restaurant is not only a staple memory on King Street for locals and tourists alike, the building also holds two centuries of history including time holding cargo from incoming ships and as a field hospital during the Civil War. Alexandria’s Old Town neighborhood is enlivened by the news of the Fish Market’s funding and the community cannot wait to create more memories at these bar stools.