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FINDING BREEZE OF WINDY CITY; CHICAGO FANS FEEL RIGHT AT HOME IN BURBANK TAVERN.

Byline: Patrick Hipes Daily News Staff Writer

It might not be the Windy City, but for most of the patrons at this city's Tin Horn Flats saloon, it's darn close.

Transplanted Chicagoans - or fans who are passionate about the Bulls, Bears, Cubs or White Sox - know it's the place to be.

``I heard there was a Chicago bar here and first came in about five years ago,'' said Dave Muensterman, now the Flats' bar manager. ``Everybody here is from Chicago. It's loud and crazy and the people are a big part of the game for sure.''

The smell of Polish sausage dominates as much as the sports paraphernalia. These days, the joint is jumping thanks to Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen and Phil Jackson, looking for the Bulls' sixth championship of the '90s. The bar stools and Utah fans will be at a premium for Wednesday's Game 4 of the NBA Finals.

``People ask me if I'm a Chicago fan,'' said L.A.-reared co-owner Darla Cook, who bought the bar just three months ago. She looks at the bevy of Bulls jerseys and Nike Air Jordans asking - pleading - with a busy Muensterman for another pitcher before the end of a Game 1 commercial.

Then, with a wink, she said: ``I am now.''

Nobody is sure how Tin Horn Flats got this way, but nobody's complaining. The place was a general store when it opened in 1925. It became a bar in 1938 and the regulars help celebrate 60 years of service.

``It's got that nice Chicago feel to it,'' said Bulls-hat-wearing Steve Frintner, a film distributor from Burbank. ``I mean, I sit down here next to a guy I don't know and we start talking. It's like you've known people for 100 years.''

It's the atmosphere that attracted Cook to purchase the bar. It also attracts industry types looking for a laid-back, low-profile place to unwind and watch a game. A pool table, a jukebox and a patio area are in constant use. A framed photo of Wrigley Field leans behind the bar like some sort of shrine, needing only candles and a Budweiser bottle for worshiping purposes.

``When I'm in Chicago, we go to some of the local bars on the North Side,'' said Victoria Easley, a radio newswriter reared in Peoria, Ill. ``It's got that same type of feel.''

The noise ebbs and flows depending on the action. It was hot and heavy Wednesday, when the Bulls hung around into overtime before falling 88-85 in a tight, defensive battle.

It's not just a social place, it's a diehard sports bar. The fans here know the game.

``I think that's generally the case,'' said Frintner, a South-sider, between referee complaints. ``I have four sisters and they know as much about football and basketball as I do.''

The people are fanatical, yes, but mean-spirited, no. Last year, a group of unsuspecting Jazz fans wandered through the Western-style swinging front doors. It took a full half before they figured they were in the wrong place and left.

``It was OK with them,'' said Easley, who first came looking for a place to act the fool without being worried about the reaction. ``We kind of gave them the vibe that they were in the wrong place, but we didn't do anything.''

Said Cook: ``There's never any trouble here. Everyone is so nice. It's like being around your family all the time.''

It's the reason any and all types are welcome at her joint, a haven for all things Chicago. And that means everything.

``I've heard that there was a girl shot here in 1928,'' Cook said. ``They say that her spirit still floats around here.''

You can bet season tickets to the United Center that she's a Bulls fan.

(Tin Horn Flats is located in Burbank at 2623 West Magnolia Blvd. Information: (818) 567-2470.)

CAPTION(S):

2 Photos

PHOTO (1) Steve Frintner cheers for the Chicago Bulls on TV at Tin Horn Flats saloon in Burbank. ``It's got that nice Chicago feel to it,'' Frintner said.

(2) She's a long way from Chicago, but Victoria Easley is not out of place in her Bulls shirt and Michael Jordan socks.

Michael Owen Baker/Daily News
COPYRIGHT 1998 Daily News
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1998, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

Article Details
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Title Annotation:SPORTS
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Jun 9, 1998
Words:702
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