Bullet’s Sports Bar
As a young man, Rollin Garcia, an innocent bystander, was shot during the robbery of a local grocery store. He fortunately survived and garnered a pretty cool nickname — Bullet.
His eponymous business, Bullet’s Sports Bar, located in the heart of the Seventh Ward, is the quintessential neighborhood bar. For more than 20 years, Garcia has been a respected community leader and his bar the conduit for juicy gossip, comprehensive Saints analysis, legendary music, grassroots activism and down-home hospitality.
“I stayed during Katrina and as soon as I could, I opened,” he said. “I had a 100-watt light bulb and we all gathered around it.”
Since 1975, Garcia has been a Seventh Ward resident and he’s always been active in the neighborhood’s association. His home is three blocks from his business and he often strolls and patrols the area looking for ways to help.
“I’m always checking on things,” he said. “If I see things like standing water, I call our councilperson and get someone out here to fix it and I check in on the elderly. It’s important to take care of one another.”
He says that his bar is the last stronghold for old timers; he doesn’t cater to youngsters. In fact, no one under the age of 25 is allowed and sagging-pant–wearing-loud-mouth rappers need to find another place to drink because they’re not welcome at Bullet’s.
“No drugs, no nonsense — none of that here,” he said. “We draw a unique crowd: retired school teachers, principals, judges, lawyers, police… we’re all like a family. Actually, I see them more often than I see my real family.”
It’s not unusual for Garcia and his crew to put in 15-hour days. But long-time employee, Clarence Gartett, said that he’s happy to be there because it’s where he wants to be.
“This is my second home,” he said. “It’s nothing but fun here.”
Recently, Garcia said a regular customer showed up to the bar with a veritable feast. He pulled some tables together and threw down bags of lobsters, shrimp and boiled crawfish.
“He brought it for everyone to share,” he said. “Like I said, we’re family here.”
Bullet’s is packed when the Saints play and Garcia said a Saints game trumps anything else going on his bar.
“It’s all about the Saints here and we’re always wishing and hoping for a good season.”
But besides the Saints, Bullet’s is also a bit of a local treasure when it comes to live entertainment and good food. Garcia gave me a quick rundown: “On Mondays it’s dominoes and red beans; Tuesdays it’s fried fish; Wednesday is steak night and rolling with the oldies: no rap; Kermit takes the stage at 7 on Thursdays; Fridays it’s the all-girls brass band, the Pinettes; Saturday it’s old-school music and Sundays it’s R&B.”
Kermit Ruffins has been a perennial performer at Bullet’s and a long-time friend of the owner of this unassuming bar.
“Kermit plays often and I call him, ‘Boss,’ Garcia said. “When Katrina was about to hit, Kermit was supposed to be playing that night but I said, “Boss, I’ll see you when this is over.”
There’s no stage at Bullet’s, just the welcoming ambience of a sublimely funky family room. It’s kind of like being at your coolest friend’s house just hanging with your pals and many of your soon to be pals.
“We don’t have many skirmishes here,” Garcia said as he made the sign of the cross. “I’ve been very blessed. There’s enough chaos in the world, here it’s all nice and smooth.”
Bullet's Sports Bar
2441 A.P. Tureaud Ave.