Most Connecticut sports bars are places to go for chicken wings, pulled pork nachos, and cheeseburger sliders while watching UConn, the Celtics, or the Yankees. The Cannon in New Haven is not like most sports bars.
All dishes on the menu are meatless and most are vegan. The biggest crowds gather on the nights when London-based Arsenal Football Club play a televised game.
During Wednesday’s pre-season game with Orlando City – which Arsenal won – The Cannon packed with men and women wearing red and white Arsenal shirts with the logo of the cannon that gives the bar its name.
Fans are called Gooners, like Arsenal fans all over the world. Their club, the New Haven Gooners, is listed by Arsenal America as Connecticut’s only official fan club.
“I like Arsenal because the team is so international and because they have a great fan culture. It’s fun to be part of a global audience,” said Tom Krattenmaker of New Haven, who came at the bar in Arsenal gear with his wife, Carolyn Gretton.”Football culture is different from football, basketball, baseball. There’s a lot more do-it-yourself stuff, the merchandise, the chants It’s fan-centric and fan-powered, a real community.
Abigail O’Keefe entered fan culture when she worked at Christy’s, the former New Haven pub that was the Gooners’ hangout until it closed for good during the pandemic.
“I worked during all the matches. I’ve been friends with the guys watching the games since 2010. I fell in love with the crowd and I fell in love with the team,” O’Keefe said. She is now an assistant branch manager of the New Haven Gooners.
The Cannon is owned by Kevin MacKenzie, Tessa Davis and Skyller Melton. Mackenzie and Davis run the bar. Melton takes care of the kitchen. The vibe – no meat, lots of football – was created by MacKenzie, who went vegan 20 years ago and has loved Arsenal all his life.
“As a young kid I watched football on TV and there was this striker, Dennis Bergkamp, who played at Arsenal. He was my favorite player,” MacKenzie said. to look at. It was my kind of thing. Later in life I started going to [New Haven pub] Anna Liffey is for watching games. I met many people. It was a great community. »
Later, MacKenzie hung out at Christy’s. Christy’s and Anna Liffey’s are both closed now and The Cannon has been home to Arsenal’s fandom base.
“From day one the response has been positive, but our customer base is not just Arsenal fans,” MacKenzie said. “We get a very diverse crowd.”
Bar food is a natural for Melton, who cooked at Ordinary in New Haven. He eats meat, but cooking without meat is fun for him. ” I like challenges. It makes me think,” he said.
The menu is small. Melton said he’ll grow up when he can hire a kitchen helper.
Three sandwiches are the “Fresh Catch” ($9), a heart of palm battered in tempura and fried; a Reuben ($9), with thinly sliced seitan replacing corned beef; and a $5 grilled cheese, which at the moment is dairy-based. Melton said the kitchen is nut-free and he’s experimenting with nut-free vegan cheeses to choose one to replace dairy cheese.
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The salads, at $5 each, are a vegan Caesar and a “spring” salad with strawberries, beets and red onions. Super fresh hand cut fries are $5, $7 with vegan sauce. Desserts are Coconut Mango Pudding ($5) and Oatmeal Strawberry Cookies ($7). Foxon Park soda is served.
Sometimes Melton adds specialties such as broccoli rabe sliders on oat milk buns; eggplant pies, jerk lentils or seitan-mushroom mix inspired by steak and beer; cardamom cake; and cinnamon rolls. Tuesday is pasta night. Pasta contains eggs.
The Cannon’s kitchen opened on March 13 as Arsenal’s season drew to a close. They were hoping to open early in the season; signage outside the bar hopefully but incorrectly says ‘2021’. But since almost all the restaurants opened this year or last year, the construction took much longer than expected.
“This place used to be a laundry. It was just a big room. We had to build everything from scratch. It was a little scary,” Davis said. “We all come from working-class backgrounds, so we got a lot of help from our families. My dad did all the plumbing. Kevin’s dad built the bar.
They got the kitchen equipment from the Slifka Center for Jewish Life at Yale, which was renovating its facilities. “We got everything for free, if we could move it. It was a lot. It’s big and bulky,” Davis said. “But we did. We love that their cooking is kosher. No meat has ever touched this kitchen equipment. I’m not a vegetarian myself, but it’s important for people who are focused on this lifestyle.
The Cannon is located at 135 Dwight St. in New Haven, at the corner of Chapel Street. It is open from 4 p.m. to 1 a.m. on Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, from 4 p.m. to 2 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. Closed on Mondays. thecannonnhv.org.
Susan Dunne can be contacted at [email protected].