Kelsey Grammer served me beer at a Brick, NJ bar and it was epic!
BRICK — If you remember the iconic TV sitcom, “Cheers,” whenever the character Norm played by George Wendt walked into the bar, everyone shouted, “NORM!!” and of course one of the most famous lines from the opening theme song was, “where everybody knows your name.”
Well, on Saturday, Sept. 10, when I walked into Mantoloking Road Alehouse in Brick, nobody shouted “JEN!!” and not everyone knew my name. But that was about to change.
How did the event come about?
I wrote a story not too long ago that actor Kelsey Grammer, who played Dr. Frasier Crane on “Cheers” and then reprised his comedic psychiatry role in the hit TV spinoff, “Frasier,” was going to pour beer at the popular Brick watering hole on Mantoloking Road on Sept.10.
Grammer founded Faith American Brewing in 2015, located in the NY Catskills, which has been a special place for him since his childhood.
He has been touring different bars and pubs, promoting his Faith American ales. There is the original, the Calico Man India Pale Ale, and my favorite, Blue, which tastes like blueberries.
Grammer is no stranger to New Jersey, promoting his beers in Atlantic City, Asbury Park, Lavallette, Basking Ridge, and now Brick.
But it’s in AC where it all came together. The Zarrilli brothers (Mark, Anthony, and Rich) own Mantoloking Road Alehouse.
In May, Mark Zarrilli was in AC with his wife attending a concert. He was drinking Faith American beer at a bar, only to find out that Kelsey Grammer was in the house, Zarrilli said.
The two began talking and Zarrilli told the actor he wanted to serve his beer not only at his bar but also at Brick Summerfest since they are the signature bar at the events.
Faith American was a huge hit at Summerfest, Zarrilli said. In June, Grammer came to check out the bar and a few weeks later, he called Zarrilli, saying he was available in September to do an event and pour beer for patrons.
Zarrilli said it happened so quickly but the brothers were thrilled. They were one of the many New Jersey businesses that suffered during the pandemic. So this was sure to be a big boost for business, not to mention that it coincided with the grand reopening of its outdoor seating area.
The actual event
Kelsey Grammer was set to pour beer from 12 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. The bar opened at 9 a.m. I was third online at 7:30 a.m., mainly because I didn’t know what to expect and how packed it would be. While waiting, I made some great new friends.
When the doors opened, the line was not bad at all. Each person paid $10 which got you a wristband, a commemorative cup (for Kelsey to sign), and a coupon for a free beer!
For three hours, I sat at the bar in front of the taps, drinking Faith American Blue, eating breakfast, and chatting with patrons, who all wanted to meet Grammer while swapping stories of their favorite “Cheers” and “Frasier” episodes.
Great music was playing throughout the bar, including Wang Chung's, "Everybody Have Fun Tonight." This was perfect because "Cheers" fans will remember the episode when Grammer's character, Dr. Frasier Crane walks into the bar and talks about how he heard an iconic passage from a song on a rock-n-roll station that he felt compelled to pass on to his fellow bar flies. "Everybody have fun tonight. Everybody Wang Chung tonight."
One lifelong Brick resident, Joe Polizzi is a regular at the bar (who also made sure nobody took my seat during the event). He told me that not only is he a huge Grammer fan, but he also loved the fact that the actor supports local businesses, and represents a beer brand that is meaningful to his childhood. Polizzi’s favorite Grammer role is not only Dr. Frasier Crane but also Sideshow Bob from “The Simpson” and Captain Hook in “Finding Neverland” on Broadway.
Brielle resident, Cameron Fitzgibbons, retired military, grew up in Boston, where the iconic show, “Cheers” took place, so of course, he’s a huge fan of the show, of Grammer, and of beer, he jokingly said.
Brick resident Danielle Ernst said she can recite almost every line from any “Frasier” episode so she was over the moon to meet the actor. She even brought her 4-month-old son Walker (who did not stay for the main event), her mom Amanda Conti of Brick, and friends Robert Autenrieth of Point Pleasant and Jess Everett of Howell.
At noon, the bar was packed. All of a sudden, the theme song from “Cheers” blared over the speakers. It was then that Grammer emerged from the kitchen, stunned and overwhelmed by the warm reception as everyone sang the lyrics from the top of their lungs. It truly was an unforgettable moment!
Grammer stopped along the way, shook hands, smiled, signed memorabilia, and took pictures, all while being so incredibly kind and gracious to everyone in his path.
Then he made his way behind the bar. He spent an hour and a half pouring beers for as many people as possible, once again taking pictures, autographing cups and other souvenirs, laughing, joking, listening to people’s stories, and just having a blast.
He was completely down to earth and just drank it all in.
I was one of the lucky ones who was invited to go behind the bar and snag some photos of him in action pouring some brews. Of course, Grammer was kind enough to take a picture with me, as well.
I joked with him that he had a fake radio show on “Frasier” but that I was really on the radio. He laughed and told me we need to talk some more about radio (and we did).
Grammer poured me two beers during his time behind the bar and when I got the last of the Blue beer, he joked and told people that the radio girl got the last of the Blue. (Don’t worry. The keg was changed all was right with the world again).
He autographed my cup and was so kind and genuine. He even gave me a hug and a kiss.
Grammer is a true gentleman with a heart of gold, who truly adores his fans. He took his time going around the bar and pouring brews for as many people as possible. He came around to our side of the bar twice. He never rushed anything. He was so attentive to anyone who wanted to chat or asked for a picture of an autograph. I will always remember that.
At 1:30 p.m., he left the bar and everyone “cheered” him out! It was nothing but good vibes all around from true locals and true fans. All in all, a perfect afternoon.
About 700 people came through the bar including Mayor John Ducey and some members of the town council, said bar co-owner, Anthony Zarrilli.
“The day went great. We couldn’t have asked for a nicer day, great crowd and Kelsey being so gracious to everyone taking pictures, giving autographs, and of course, serving beers,” Zarrilli said.
At the height of the event, there was a line that wrapped the parking lot and the street adjacent to the MRA, he said.
“At some point due to time, I believe some people realized time was running out and we could only have so many people in the building that some left.
As it winded down, we let more people in, at least, see Kelsey but they were not able to have beer poured for them,” Zarrilli said.
But since they were not able to get in, Zarrilli handed out some of their signature Alehouse cups with a free beer ticket in them as a consolation. Many were very grateful.
So, that was my afternoon in a bar with Dr. Frasier Crane, aka, Kelsey Grammer. Not everyone can say they enjoyed a beer and some bar conversation with him, but I can.
Hopefully, he’ll return soon, and maybe he’ll bring Niles and Lilith.
Jen Ursillo is a reporter and anchor for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach her at email@example.com
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