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    KILT NIGHT IN EASTON
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MATT DE BLASS
Porter's pub as seen in American Public House Review



Going out in a kilt is good for several things. For one, it shows your enthusiasm for Celtic culture, two, there really hasn't been a much better ice breaker invented, just wearing it is an invitation for people to come over and chat, and three, once a month, at least, it'll get you a free pint at Porter's Pub in Easton Pa.

The first Saturday of each month is Kilt Night at Porter's, any man in a kilt gets a free pint, and live bands play Celtic music from about 10-2. This doesn't come from any particular Scottish or Irish association the pub has, rather, like most of what goes on there, it's just because the owners thought it sounded like a fun thing to do.
When the Porter brothers opened up their pub in Easton, they were warned that if they didn't have Budweiser or Coors on tap, they wouldn't stay open for very long.



The wearers of the kilt
MEN OF THE KILT AND THEIR FREE PINTS


the author in his kilt
THE AUTHOR


That was in 1990. Porter's Pub today still doesn't have Budweiser or Coors on tap, although they are available in bottles. Of course, if one sticks to basic brews at Porter's they'd miss the chance to try any of more than 60 other beers that the pub has on hand (including the paradoxically named house brew, Porter's Ale). The staff can even keep track of which ones you've had before, and when you've tried them all will give you your own mug which will hang on the ceiling until you're ready to use it.

Why so many choices? “I just like good beer,” said co-owner Larry Porter.

Larry, along with his brothers Ken and Jeff didn't set out to be pub owners. “We were actually looking for buildings to rehabilitate,” said Larry, when they found a good looking apartment building at the corner of Northampton and 7th. Along with the building came a liquor license, attached to an establishment called the Central Bar on the ground floor.
But once the idea of opening their own drinking establishment took hold, the brothers jumped in with both feet. “We used to throw a lot of house parties,” Larry said, “and owning a bar is like throwing a party every night.”


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So the new landlords went to work. After nearly two years, what was once, in Larry's words, “a real dive” took on the classic mahogany and stone look that Porter's is known for.“We didn't set out to make an Irish pub, or an English pub, or even an American pub,” said Larry, “we just wanted it to be comfortable, a place where we'd like to hang out”
It seems they succeeded, on many nights, my Kilt Night visit being one of them, the bar is standing-room-only. There are somewhere between six and 10 men, other than myself, who have decided to take advantage of the offer.

Almost immediately the kilt-as-conversation-piece effect kicked in, and I met up with Gilbert Beers and Shawn Crowley. We launched into a discussion about the merits of our respective garments, all three of which were deviations from the highland tradition. Gilbert had a USAkilt (made in Pa., traditional looking, affordable), Shawn had a Utilikilt (tough fabric, lots of pockets) and I had on a Sportkilt (lightweight, machine washable). In some contexts, it seems, it is possible to have a manly discussion about clothes. Sort of.


hanging mugs as seen in American Public House Review
THE REGULARS ARE WELL HUNG .  .  . THEIR MUGS AT LEAST!



Of course, on other visits to Porter's, I really haven't had any problem finding someone to talk to either, regardless of how I was dressed. On a Sunday afternoon visit, for example, I ran into a local artist who made his living carving headstones, and spent his free time painting, sculpting and helping run a local arts organization. On other occasions I've met bank managers, musicians and others, some of who came from an hour away just to hear a band, hit the Thursday night open mic, down a few pints or maybe work towards their mug.

Of course, they could also be there for the food, which is worth the trip on its own. In true Porter's fashion, the place was never meant to be a restaurant. The brothers started out with a tiny kitchen and the idea that they would just serve pub grub. But once they started, they figured they might as well do it right, and the kitchen while still tiny, now churns out everything from a cheese board to a steak dinner. Larry, Jeff and Ken all have day jobs, but they keep a close relationship with the staff who run the place from day to day, and are frequently spotted on both sides of the bar.



An offer for the brave of heart as seen in American Public House Review
ARE YOU MAN ENOUGH?



Porter's manages to be everything a decent public house should be: a comfortable, friendly place where you can grab dinner with your family, while away a Sunday afternoon discussing art or literature, or belt on a kilt and spend the evening trying to learn the “alternate” verses to your favorite pub songs. All this accomplished using a formula so simple, it almost seems self-evident – if you want people to come to your bar, make it the place where you want to hang out yourself.






PORTER'S PUB AND RESTAURANT

700 Northampton Street

Easton, Pa. 18042
(610) 250-6561

www.porterspubeaston.com

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