There’s no question about it, Long Islanders love their team. The New York Islanders have been the pride of Long Island since their inaugural season in 1972. Despite having some ups and downs, the fans have always been there as a loyal, rowdy bunch.
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It’s true that the Islanders have been labeled “New York’s other hockey team,” but most don’t realize just how special the team is to Long Island and their fans. Before we get into that, let’s get this out of the way. It’s true, the Islanders have suffered from a lack of fans in the stands before. But what team hasn’t gone through its growing pains?
With new ownership, the dog days of the Islanders are over. The team is headed to a brand-new arena at Belmont, and you bet the fans will be there, too. The new arena is a credit to how great the new ownership has been, but it isn’t possible without the voice of the fan base calling for a new home, and a place to call ours.
And if the voice of the fan base doesn’t speak to their loyalty, look no further than these fan-made businesses who have taken the Islanders fan base by storm, and have contributed to the identity team’s identity.
YesMenOutfitters, The Offside Tavern, Oyster Bay Brewing Company & IslesMeetups are just some of the fan-made businesses that began because a fan loved their team, and their success speaks volumes to their outstanding products and loyalty to the Islanders organization.
The heart of the Islanders fan base starts here, and spreads far and wide.
If you head over to YesMenOutfitters.com, you’ll find a collection of clothing and gear that all resemble the Islanders and Long Island hockey. Devin Robinson, the owner, started his small business from the literal ground up.
“I was secretly printing shirts, I would say to my partner ‘I saved this job for tonight, why don’t you go home,’ and then I’d turn all the machines back on and print a bunch and get ‘em out the door. I was secretly shipping for a while… the whole ‘Kid Who Won the Calder’ shirt came out and I think within 25 minutes of me putting that out it was on the front page of bleacher report.”Devin Robinson on Nassaumen Hockey Podcast
Robinson started printing instant classics such as the shirts you see above secretly, when he was working for a friend at his embroidery shop. Since then, he has never looked back.
YesMenOutfitters has grown exponentially since 2017, the year Robinson started his business, and in October of 2019, he was able to move on from his former job to make creating Islanders-themed gear his full-time gig.
The marketing has been genius from the get-go and has led to partnerships with other fan-made businesses in the Islanders community. YesMen has partnered with big names such as Mike Carver of Isles Seat Podcast, Offside Tavern, Oyster Bay Brewing Company, and has sponsored many of the Isles meetups to date.
Despite the instant, wide-ranged success, YesMenOutfitters is still growing. Robinson is dedicated to creating the best products for his consumers and is constantly reworking his designs and apparel quality.
You can find all of the Isles-related gear online, and once the COVID-19 pandemic passes, you’ll likely find the YesMenOutfitters tent in the parking lot of Islanders home games, where Isles fans will be tailgating with Devin, and you can pick up some great merchandise.
The Offside Tavern is an Islanders-themed bar, run by a true die-hard Islanders fan. Long Island native Nick Costa opened the tavern in the heart of Manhattan, just 20 blocks from the rival New York Rangers’ home, located on 137 W, 14th street. The tavern has been playfully nicknamed “fort ever-booze.”
The tavern was another small business that began in 2017 based on Costa’s love for the Islanders and his knowledge of the bar business. Before the birth of the tavern, he had been working out of bars and restaurants prior to graduating high school. Starting at the Cheesecake Factory, Costa worked his way up in the bar and restaurant business, starting in Long Island, and eventually managing Off the Wagon, a bar in Manhattan.
The next step for Costa was always to be the head honcho of his own place. Thus came the birth of Offside Tavern. It was a no-brainer for him to open an Isles-themed bar in the heat of Manhattan.
“There was no place to go and watch the game (in Manhattan). You would go to the bar and they would put the game on for you, but it wasn’t an ‘experience.'”
Costa solved that issue on J, opening the tavern for Isles fans in the city to go to, and for fans traveling to Manhattan to locate on a game night. Potentially the most identifiable aspect of the tavern is it’s logo, a cool tribute to the controversial fisherman logo from the 1996-97 Islanders team.
“I spoke to Ledecky about it (Offside Tavern Logo) early on, he just comes to the bar, which is insane to me. So I asked him if I was going to get a cease and desist on the logo and he said ‘No, no, we like it, the only thing I’m going to ask you not to do is sell it on merchandise.’ He was totally cool with it.”Nick Costa on Nassaumen Hockey Podcast
Costa has received a resounding support from the Islanders and their management. So much so that they even invited him to a game to have some fun shooting t-shirts into the crowd. Islanders brass have even found their way to the tavern to check out not only the Isles memorabilia, but the Isles-themed menu featuring items like “Tater Trotz” and “Boychuk Punch.” You might be interested to know that Islanders owner Jon Ledecky’s choice order is a beer and pretzels.
The tavern has hosted many events in its three years of operation. Costa has teamed up with Robinson of YesMenOutfitters for some awesome merchandise and viewing parties, and with Oyster Bay Brewing Company for some authentic Long Island beer.
The Offside Tavern is an awesome place for Islanders fans outside of Long Island to call home, and Costa is happy to host any time.
Oyster Bay Brewing Company
Oyster Bay Brewing Company is a brewery based out of Oyster Bay, New York, on the North Shore of Long Island. Founded by co-owners Gabe Haim and Ryan Schlotter, the brewery started on taking a chance. Both Haim and Scholtter were brewing beers for fun while working full-time jobs to support their families.
Being based out of Long Island, Haim and Schlotter came up with an idea. “We did some testing for the [final] season and brought them some beers. We came up with the idea to create a tribute beer for the Islanders during the last season they would be playing at the Coliseum. We had no recipe or anything, but we pitched them the idea and they were interested in learning more,” said Haim.
From that moment on, the rest was history. The Islanders were moving from their home concluding the 2014-15 season, and the motto for the season was “Rock the Barn.” So naturally, Haim, Schlotter and the Islanders marketing team came up with the “Barn Rocker,” the official beer of the New York Islanders.
The Barn Rocker put Oyster Bay Brewing on the map, and the brewery has made its way into multiple big name locations, such as Citi Field and Barclays Center.
Oyster Bay has had the pleasure of sponsoring some events in collaboration with YesMenOutfitters, IslesMeetups, and the Barn Rocker can certainly be found in the Offside Tavern. The brewery is even the home of YesMenOutfitters operations, as Robinson prints out of the brewery’s basement.
Beyond the Barn Rocker, Oyster Bay has a great selection of beverages, including their newly released hard seltzers, so if you hit up the brewery in Long Island, find yourself at the Coliseum (or soon to be Belmont arena), or are in Manhattan at the Offside Tavern, try the official beverage of your favorite team, thanks to Oyster Bay.
The IslesMeetups are not so much a business as they are a watch party, but boy do they scream Islanders loyalty throughout our fan base.
If you had heard that there are currently 29 locations where hundreds of Islander fans meet up at game time, including one location in the United Kingdom, would you believe it? Well you should, because it’s true.
It all started when Long Island-native Michael Ryan, the pioneer of the IslesMeetups, moved from Long Island down to North Carolina after accepting a teaching position. The 2015-16 NHL season was the first that he was in North Carolina. While attending an Islanders-Carolina Hurricanes tilt, Ryan came to the realization that there were many Isles fans living down south as well.
“When we made the playoffs I said to myself, ‘this is the perfect time to see if people will come together to watch these playoff games,’ so the first one we had was last minute notice and five other guys showed up, and I made six, so we called ourselves the original six.”Michael Ryan on Nassaumen Hockey Podcast
Thus, IslesMeetups Charlotte was born. As the Islanders made it deeper into the playoffs, more and more people started showing up to the meets. The playoff run wouldn’t continue much longer, but the meetups grew more and more.
One of the original six members moved from North Carolina, further south to Tampa Bay, Florida, where the second IslesMeetup crew formed. Then more and more started popping up, such as Philadelphia, Jacksonville, and as we mentioned earlier, the United Kingdom.
Ryan has done a remarkable job hosting the Charlotte, North Carolina events. He has a regular representative he works with in the Hurricanes organization that provides tickets in abundance, and Ryan is always selling out sections for Islanders fans to attend. The pre-game activities have even grown so large that Islanders legends like Ken Morrow are attending for meet and greets.
The amazing part about the meetups are that all the Isles-themed small businesses tie together. Oyster Bay is sponsoring and supplying the Barn Rockers and other alcoholic beverages. YesMenOutfitters has created a number of graphic t-shirts to sponsor the events, and an IslesMeetupNYC has even formed and the Offside Tavern hosted a number of viewing parties with them.
These businesses and parties all started because of a couple of guys who loved their team. They mostly started as something they wanted to do for fun, and now they’re recognized as some of the biggest factors of Long Island’s fan base. The Islanders are a loud and proud bunch, and these are just a few small businesses that became the heart of Long Island’s team.
Want more Islanders content? Check out the Nassaumen Hockey Podcast, hosted by TheHockeyWriters authors James Nichols and Jon Zella. Follow on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and Google Podcasts!