ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) — From high school state tournaments to a Minnesota Wild team drawing record crowds, March Madness is in full effect in downtown St. Paul.

You sent us your nominations and voted Patrick McGovern’s the best place to go before a game in Minneosta.

“Because you see these people, a lot of them once a year, and that’s pretty neat,” owner Pat Bamer said. “And you know who’s coming in the door.”

The pub is the type of pre-or-post-game stop where all generations can mingle, shoulder to shoulder.

“We draw anywhere from 20 to 80,”

It’s a lot of things to many — a neighborhood joint to some, for others it’s a St. Paul destination parked on 7th Street.

“This is kind of unique that I’ve actually got a seat,” one customer said with a laugh.

Pat Bamer has opened the door since 1982 — and no, his last name isn’t McGovern.

“I was Patrick, and my partner was McGovern,” Bamer said. “We wanted to have an Irish theme, which we did, and it worked out really well.”

With multiple levels and seven bars, there’s a nook and cranny for anyone to hide out or pal around.

“It’s taken me that long to get it to what it is right now,” Bamer said. “We own half the block, so people don’t have much of an option, do they?”

McGovern’s used to be just an east-of-the-river thing, but not so much anymore.

“In years past, Minneapolis people didn’t come to St. Paul,” Bamer said. “You didn’t cross the river. And that doesn’t hold true anymore. Now St. Paul people go to Minneapolis, a lot of Minneapolis people come to St. Paul.”

These days, it’s a family affair at McGovern’s.

“Half the people that walk in this door, I know who they are because they’ve been coming here for 20 to 30-some years,” Bamer said.

That’s what’s made McGovern’s the fixture it is — the people love Pat and he loves them right back.

“I don’t have any desire to retire right now, because if you like what you’re doing then why do you want to get out,” he said. “I’ve been very fortunate.”

This week is one of the busiest of the year with high school hockey state tournaments and another busy day Saturday for their St. Patrick’s Day block party.

Your other favorite pregame stops are Tom Reid’s Hockey Club and the Liffy.


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