T-shirts, sweatpants, sneakers. Blazers, ties, dress shoes. Turtlenecks, trousers, heels. It’s what you’ll see when you walk through the corner door of Casey’s Black Rock on Amherst Street – a gaggle of humans dressed for every occasion looking to take a load off.
This crowd is exactly what new owner Vincent Garofolo envisioned when he bought the place.
I remember the old Casey’s – consider it Volume 1. It was a casual place dimmed dark enough to hide your sins and just light enough to remind you to get where you’re going; either back home or back to work. It was a“come as you are” place for a neighborhood of blue-collar workers. It was also a place that now-owner, Vinny, worked in, saw firsthand, and emulated with a plot twist when offered the serendipitous opportunity.
Fast-forward five plus years, a few updates, and a pandemic, it’s a place where people want to be – all over again. With thousands of choices to make every day, the joy of holding a one-page menu in your hands will be more euphoric than your adult self would like to admit. Better yet, the drink selection is the perfect mix of canned pilsners and secretly great cocktails. (Translation: You don’t have to pretend to like Negronis here for street cred, though Casey’s would certainly make you a great one if that’s your actual vibe).
Hunger-wise, you can consider Casey’s menu “bar fare” that feeds your local soul. You’ve got beef burgers and veggie burgers, wings and fingers, logs and nachos, plus a few outliers like “Wenzel’s Winter Chili” and a special Friday fish fry. This is not summer-body food. Menu hacks? No – and I asked. But here’s my order as a solid (now-insider) tip: Nashville Hot chicken fingers, on the pit, accompanied with a Miller High Life. I will not be taking rebuttals at this time.
So, if this place is so great, what’s the catch? Well, it’s not small. And you’ll need to be seated for this one. Casey’s is…KC fan club. Yes, Josh Allen, you read that right: This is a Kansas City Chiefs bar. Photos of Mahomes may or may not be behind you as you eat wings from the pit, and Joe Montana’s spirit will probably watch you devour their pork nachos. But even so, gamedays – including the big ones like Buffalo vs Kansas City – are still the owner’s favorite moments behind the pine: “The energy is wild. Game days let you really enjoy the fruits of the labor.”
Go to Casey’s if and when: you’re on your way back from work, you’re looking for a nightcap, you want a fun brunch, you’re ready to have adult conversations with a bartender (who probably is the owner).
Don’t go to Casey’s if and when: you’re taking a group of kids out for dinner, you don’t want to strike up a conversation, you’re planning to cause a ruckus – you’ll probably end up in their Penalty Box (for at least two to five minutes).