I arrived to The Blind Rhino in South Norwalk 15 minutes early to meet with Ken Tuccio to discuss the party he and The Blind Rhino are throwing on Super Bowl Sunday. As I walked through the door, much to my surprise, Ken was already sitting at the bar. He was halfway through a pint of beer, looking comfortable in a zip-up hoodie bearing the logo of Bridgeport based brewery Aspetuck Brew Lab.
Ken Tuccio, a Norwalk resident, isn’t your typical “local media personality”. While most of the people involved in media on a local level seem as if they were designed in a “news anchor factory”, Tuccio is admittedly rough around the edges.
An authentic personality who doesn’t shy away from talking about topics that the average 6pm talking head wouldn’t dare discuss publicly, Ken is best known in Connecticut for his unique connection to the state’s thriving beer and culinary scene.
Tuccio initially rose to notoriety through his popular Welcome To Connecticut Podcast. He then spun that podcast’s success into a documentary television series with WTNH News Channel 8 titled “The Local Drinking Show”. Eventually he was offered a daily morning drive show on 95.9 The Fox, which he left in January in order to pursue other creative endeavors.
“I’m excited to talk about this,” Tuccio said. “It’s probably my favorite event I do with the Rhino each year.”
Ken is talking about the upcoming SoNo Bowl event, a Super Bowl Pre-Game Tailgate Party, taking place at South Norwalk’s award winning sports bar The Blind Rhino from 4pm until kickoff of the big game.
SoNo Bowl is now a Connecticut Super Bowl tradition, with people traveling from all across the state to enjoy the party, but it began very humbly three years ago when Tuccio brainstormed with Casey Dohme and Matt Bacco (owners of The Blind Rhino) about what they could do to celebrate Super Bowl Sunday.
Rhino owner Casey Dohme recalls what he wanted from his bar for Super Bowl Sunday, “We didn't want to be the sports bar that posted a picture of sliders, pitchers and a bottle of jack on social media saying, ‘We are doing pitcher & shots specials, come watch the big game!’. No one cares about that.”
When he began brainstorming with Ken Tuccio, Casey quickly realized they were on the same wavelength.
“Think about St. Patrick’s Day,”, Tuccio says as he finishes up his No Worries’ Do-Si-Do IPA and motions to the bartender for another, “for an Irish Pub, that’s the biggest day of the year. They throw parties, they do live bands. It’s an event. For a sports bar, the biggest day of the year is the Super Bowl, but 99% of sports bars just phone it in. They turn on the TV, do some drink specials, nuke some wings and call it a day. That never made sense to me. I thought sports bars should do something bigger. Casey and Matt agreed. SoNo Bowl was born.”
SoNo Bowl has evolved since year one. The first SoNo Bowl was billed as a “Super Bowl Pre-Game Game Show”, featuring crowd participation games that resulted in participants winning cash and prizes.
Since that first incarnation, SoNo Bowl has evolved. What started as a ticketed event that featured men and women competing in pie eating contests has turned into an all out party, one that is free and open to the public.
“People enjoyed the game show aspect.” explains Tuccio, “It was fun, but the event grew beyond that. Now SoNo Bowl is Casey, Matt and I doing what we do best, which is a throwing a kick-ass party, and inviting everyone else to join in.”
SoNo Bowl 3 looks as if it will be quite the party. It will feature live music from local Fairfield County band The Extras, raffles, giveaways, shot girls, local vendors and a great beer list that highlights Connecticut. The beer list is something Tuccio is specifically excited about.
“I’m psyched about the beer list for SoNo Bowl. We’ll have beer on tap from breweries that people who frequent the Rhino have tried before, like No Worries, Fairfield Craft Ales, Black Hog and Half Full, but we’ll also have some stuff on tap from breweries that aren’t readily available around here; Redding Beer, Bad Sons Brewing and Armada, just to name a few.”
There will also be a charity aspect to this year’s SoNo Bowl. A small pop-up “Irish Pub” will be set up inside of The Blind Rhino selling Guinness, with 100% of the proceeds going towards the Norwalk Police Emerald Society; an organization that puts together the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in South Norwalk each year.
Terry Blake from the Norwalk Police Emerald Society was thrilled about taking part in the party this year, “Ken and The Blind Rhino have been supporters for some time. We’re excited for the event and really appreciate their support of the Norwalk Police Emerald Society and the parade.”
In the end, what started as a local event organized by three friends has turned into a party that people in Connecticut plan their Super Bowl Sundays around, with individuals traveling to South Norwalk from as far as Hartford just to take part in the party.
“I firmly believe that rising tides raise all ships. If we can bring people from outside of Fairfield County to SoNo, that’s not only awesome for our party, but for the other businesses in South Norwalk as well.” Tuccio explains, “It’s going to be a great party and an awesome night for the city. The only thing that can make it any better is if the Patriots lose.”
SONO BOWL 3 TAKES PLACE SUPER BOWL SUNDAY (FEBRUARY 4TH) FROM 4PM – KICKOFF AT THE BLIND RHINO IN SOUTH NORWALK. ADMISSION IS FREE