Bullseye Bar feels just like home for Packers fans in a strange land

In Millersville, a small group of Green Bay fans has commandeered a bar

February 05, 2011|By Candus Thomson, The Baltimore Sun

Stop me if you've heard this.

A man walks into a Packers bar in Millersville.

No, wait, that's no joke. There really is a Green Bay Packers bar in Millersville: Bullseye Sports Bar and Grill, tucked between motels catering to long-haul truckers and home of a Super Bowl $10 All-You-Can-Eat Bratwurst Buffet.

The walls are devoted to everything Green Bay: photos, news clippings, jerseys, even a figurine at the end of the bar dressed in green and gold and wearing a cheesehead.

And that devotion is personified in Lou Ann Beecher, a ball of energy who helps out around the bar and persuaded restaurant owner Laverda Ensey to surrender her establishment to Packers Nation eight years ago.

"The Bullseye is a little bit of Lambeau Field right here in Maryland," says Beecher, 55, as she delivers brats and cheese curds flown in from Wisconsin to the bar along with Packers tablecloths, napkins and souvenir beads.

Beecher was bitten by the Green Bay bug when she lived for more than five years in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. One visit to Lambeau Field, "and that's all she wrote," says Beecher, who is so smitten that she bought a house across the street from the stadium with the hopes that she can walk to games after she retires.

When she moved to Crownsville, she latched onto a small group of Packers fans looking for an Anne Arundel County bar to call home. Each time they settled on a place, it would close.

"They were like the kiss of death for bars," says Beecher, laughing.

Beecher begged Ensey, a Ravens fan, who agreed to take a chance on the grim reapers of the local hospitality industry.

"There's so many Ravens Roosts around and two Steelers bars nearby, why not Packers?" says Ensey of her decision.

In fact, the Pittsburgh Steelers Fan Club of Maryland identifies a half dozen bars, from Hagerstown to Stevensville as loyal to the black and gold.

That hasn't deterred the sons and daughters of Lombardi. Each weekend this season, 30-50 Pack men and women gather around the TVs at the Veterans Highway bar to cheer.

Their loyalty goes beyond game day. The fans dig deep to raise money for Tom Brown, a standout for the University of Maryland who spent four years as a Packers defensive back, including the Super Bowl I and II seasons. Now living in Salisbury, he runs the non-profit Tom Brown's Rookie League, which provides football, baseball, and basketball instruction for children ages 5–12.

In return for their support, Brown shows up once a season at Bullseye to sign autographs and talk Cheesehead.

In the hours leading up to Super Bowl XLV, bartender Raymond Kelsey makes sure the beer supply is adequate (next year they're adding Leinenkugel, the pride of Chippewa Falls, to the tap) and gives directions on the phone to fans nearby and as far away as Delaware. A Wisconsin man in the area on a business trip calls to get particulars.

"You'd better be here by 5 or you might not get in," counsels Kelsey, who is wearing a Cowboys jersey, but says he's a Packers fan this weekend.

Meanwhile Beecher frets that the 100-plus brats she's ordered won't be enough and contemplates a run to the store.

She knows the crowd will probably be infiltrated by fans whose teams were casualties of the playoffs.

"That's OK," she says. "You can jump off the bandwagon after the game. We just want you on the bandwagon for a few hours."

candy.thomson@baltsun.com

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