When owner Todd Brown opened Bub’s Dive Bar in Pacific Beach
15 years ago, he envisioned an energetic neighborhood bar with quality food, friendly service and cold beer. At a bare minimum, however, he required that his place be a home for Steelers fans like himself.
“When I first opened the place, I said, ‘Look, if I don’t make any money or crash and burn, at least I’ll get to watch the Steelers with sound every week.’ That was my goal,” said Brown.
Although he admits the Steelers were less than perfect when he first opened Bub’s in 1998, Brown and his Steelers Nation have enjoyed watching the Steelers in three Super Bowl playoffs since, making his team the one with the most number of Super Bowl championships under its belt.
“When there’s a Super Bowl or the playoffs, Steelers fans line up at six in the morning,” he said. “It’s fun when you go to a team-affiliated bar like the Steelers. It’s like you’re at the stadium. It’s like you’re going to the football game.”
Brown, a Pennsylvania native, comes from a long line of Steelers fans from the Pittsburgh area. What Brown calls a “bad gene pool” has resulted in a fun, neighborhood bar that embraces the best amenities San Diego has to offer.
“I’ve been in San Diego for 22 years now. I love San Diego, and I’ve been doing business for over 15 years in Pacific Beach, but it’s not even an option to change teams,” he said. “In terms of football, it’s Steelers all the way.”
Steelers fans wanting a little taste of home can try Bub’s’ version of the infamous Primanti Brothers sandwich, a staple food item found in Pittsburgh, complete with shaved steak, coleslaw and French fries on thick slices of grilled sourdough bread.
“We make our own version of it, and it’s good,” said Brown. “It’s a little different than what the Primanti Brothers do, but it’s still the spirit of the sandwich.”
To complement the hearty sub, Bub’s also offers a build-your-own bloody Mary deal that is a popular crowd pleaser on game days.
“The biggest thing for us is the food. That’s what really drives the business for us,” he said. “The big thing is having good food because you’re going to sit down for three hours and watch the game, so you’re looking for food and service.”
The camaraderie among fans is palpable from the moment you step through Bub’s’ doors.
“Bub’s is all about being that neighborhood bar and just personable service,” he said. “It’s just a bunch of regulars, especially on game day. So many people know each other and that’s part of the service standard — just being super friendly and having fun with the football.”
With an upcoming Chargers-versus-Steelers game in the lineup on Sunday, Dec. 9, try a place where quality, homestyle food is king, and football — particularly the Steelers — reigns. Although Steelers are often spilling out of the place they like to call home, Chargers fans or otherwise are always welcome amid the sea of black and yellow.
“We probably take our football a little too seriously, but it’s always a place where Chargers fans can come. One thing we’ve always prided ourselves on is that we never allow anybody to harass anybody in any way other than something that’s fun — and it goes both ways,” he said. “Treat others respectfully, and we make sure everybody has a good time.”
For a the best of Steelers camaraderie in the warmth of San Diego’s climate, Bub’s is a place that fuses the best of both cities for a slice of the NFL stadium — with shorter bathroom lines.
“First and foremost, we’re a San Diego bar and we’re proud to be in Pacific Beach,” he said. “The Steelers thing is just something you can’t change, unfortunately.”
Bub’s Dive Bar is located at 1030 Garnet Ave. For more information, visit www.bubsdive.com or call (858) 270-7269.