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Village backdrop sets Rookies apart as a sports bar oasis

One of the lures of the modern sports bar is its uniformity. Patrons know what to expect—whether its domestic draft specials, games on the televisions or pennants on the wall—and there’s a comfort in that.

Does Rookies Sports Bar & Grill adhere to this homogeneity? Absolutely. The former East Aurora Pour House boasts Budweiser deals during Sabres action, hosts college football on its Saturday television schedule, and is festooned with flags for nearly every New York State sports team (including franchises Buffalonians have been raised to despise).

These characteristics make it a dependable sports stop with an athletically themed name in a fanatical region. However, none of these items reveal the true draw of the cozy, wood-hewn draft den.

Despite serving as a reliable backdrop for Syracuse basketball or Bills action, its lure to sports fans or otherwise should be its complementary fit within its surrounding neighborhood.

Pam Cefaly serves up some Rookie Burgers at Rookies in East Aurora. (Mark Mulville/Buffalo News)

Nestled in the heart of the Village of East Aurora, Rookies is an ideal oasis for those looking for a beer or barroom bite, all while enjoying the charming holiday bustle of one of the area's most idyllic suburban enclaves.

Neighborhood denizens or city dwellers make the trek to East Aurora’s Main Street throughout the Christmas season for a variety of reasons. Movies at the Aurora Theatre or the kaleidoscopic shopping experience of Vidler’s. The consumer exploration available inside the strip’s boutiques and quaint shops, or simply the chance to enjoy a stroll past the stretch’s traditionally decorated landscape. It’s classically cultivated, and it's all right outside Rookies' front door.

Tony Lupani pours Washington Apple shots at Rookies. (Mark Mulville/Buffalo News)

Once inside that door, the barroom’s vibe provides an extension to this village comfort. For the hungry, there are Buffalo favorites like wings (single, $10.99) and its Friday-only fish fry ($12.99) aside personalized items like the deep-fried pickles ($6.99) and the Rookie burger (blue cheese crumbles, caramelized onions, bacon, sautéed mushrooms and Swiss cheese) to provide sustenance to those intent on patronizing East Aurora’s impressive array of small businesses.

For the thirsty, there’s the bar’s necessary selection of domestic bottles, rare cans of Murphy's Irish Stout ($5.25) and nearly 20 craft drafts, highlighted by year-round and seasonal selections from fellow neighborhood resident, 42 North.

Fans of the brewery’s Borderland IPA and easy-drinking Oatmeal Cookie Brown Ale can hoist fresh pints inside Rookies, then stroll two blocks to 42 North’s taproom for take-home cans and growlers of the same. Such a relationship is consistent with East Aurora’s historically collaborative feel, and it’s a benefit to residents and visitors alike.

But while the bar’s geographic benefits might provide its most glowing attributes, there’s still its existence as the dependable sports bar, one fans seek for games—or an entire day of games.

For the Sabres set, there’s Rookies’ game-day special, with a single wings and two domestic bottles for $15. On Sundays during football season, its an impressive 12 hours (noon to midnight) of specials including domestic buckets ($13), craft drafts ($4.50) and shots of Fireball ($2) joining a halftime taco bar and prize giveaways to soothe every manner of Bills performance.

Not a bad spread for those seeking sports-enabling shelter—or simply a timeout from traipsing through its neighborhood’s tranquil holiday scene.

Rookies Sports Bar & Grill

Address: 701 Main St., East Aurora (714-9173; on Facebook)

Hours: 11 a.m. to midnight Sunday to Thursday; 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

Scene: Neighborhood sports bar suited for Sabres games, Sunday football, or to simply complement East Aurora’s seasonal vibe.

Drafts: 19

Bottles: 19

TVs: 8

Happy Hour: 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday

Parking: Street spots on Main and in nearby public lots

Credit/Debit: Yes

Don’t forget to: Strike a fighter’s pose next to the bar’s Mike Tyson statue.

Rookies on Main Street in East Aurora. (Mark Mulville/Buffalo News)

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