North Side Packers bar gearing up for Sunday

January 19, 2011 3:28:50 PM PST
Bars across the Chicago area will be filled with Bears fans Sunday watching the showdown at Soldier Field with the Green Bay Packers. But there is one pub Bears fans may want to avoid.

The flag flying outside makes the bold declaration that Will's Northwoods Inn is a Packers bar. And, every Sunday during football season, Packers fans make up 95 percent of the clientele.

The manager says Will's popularity is due to the ambiance, that it's like taking a trip to Wisconsin.

"When people come up to me from Green Bay and say this is the best Packer bar ever, that lets me know that we're doing something right," said general manager Kevin Kruse.

"I came here my first time by myself ... made 20 friends throughout the course of the day," said Packers fan Tim Lecher.

The North Side bar has been around for nearly 20 years. The owner says neighbors have gotten used to hundreds of people in green and yellow spilling out into the streets -- especially during the Packers-Falcons game on Saturday when the bar was full to capacity.

"In the third quarter of the game we were lining people up outside because we couldn't get them in and they stayed there," said owner Jonathan Bunge. "And, I thought, 'That's nuts.' "

Bunge says he's expecting an even bigger crowd this Sunday when the Packers play the Bears in the NFC Championship.

Bunge is already fielding calls from people in Wisconsin who want to bring lots of their friends.

Even with such a high-stakes game, regulars say the competition remains friendly with the few Bears fans who crowd into the bar.

"They may trade insults at each other, but everybody understands it's fun," said Bunge.

The bar also shows Milwaukee Brewers games and Wisconsin Badgers games, but of course, the biggest draw are the Packers games.

The bar also supports the Blackhawks and the Cubs.