Inside enemy territory: Rochester bar home to Patriots fan club

Sports

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WIVB) — It’s a journey many Bills fans would never take. Crossing county lines and roughly 75 miles from Buffalo, Bills Mafia would find themselves in enemy territory.

For the last four football seasons, Rochester restaurant Tucci’s has been the home for the Patriots Fan Club of Rochester, New York. But the club’s history spans 27 years.

“Our fan club was founded before Belichick, before Brady,” said one of the founding members “Chowdah” Freedman. “I just love when Bills fans come up to me and start giving me some stuff and I run it back at them. But it has its challenges. I don’t know if it’s for everyone up here because, I’ll tell you, Bills fans are very loyal to their team.”

Heather Fonte has been the fan club’s waitress and bartender for years.

“I was very surprised. I didn’t even know there was a Patriots fan club until I started working at [the previous place the club met],” she said.

Fonte said football season can get pretty interesting, especially because she had a secret when she first started working with the club: she’s a Bills fan.

“At first I didn’t wear my Bills gear because I was nervous. I was like, ‘are they going to tip me because I’m a Bills fan?'” Fonte said. “Now everyone knows I’m a Bills fan, but we’re all friends so it works out.”

Both sides tell News 4 they’re preparing for an emotional game Saturday, but they have faith in their respective teams.

“This is the first Patriots-Bills playoff game in my lifetime, and I’m 54,” Freedman said. “I’m really excited for this.”

Freedman said the Patriots Fan Club of Rochester is always recruiting additional Pats fans to join. And – of course – they’ll be watching the game from their usual spots at Tucci’s on Saturday.

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