HAMILTON HEIGHTS — The bar opened at 11 a.m., the fighting broke out an hour later.
About 15 brawlers competed Saturday in a Super Smash Bros.tournament at Grill on the Hill, a sports bar on the corner of 140th Street and Amsterdam Avenue.
The popular Nintendo game, lets players choose classic video game characters like Mario, Luigi, Donkey Kong, Pikachu and Link and battle opponents in an arena.
“It takes a lot of hard work, a lot of focus, a lot of mental fortitude,” said finalist Nick Szendiuch, 23, who came to the Hamilton Heights bar from Westchester. “Also grip strengthening and occasionally some thumb wrestling.”
He had been preparing for the tournament for several weeks by playing as his favorite character, Pikachu. His hands were filled with blisters from hours of training, he said.
Grill on the Hill was opened in September by three childhood friends who went to high school together in Jamaica, Queens.
Bill Musacchia is a contractor and Julio Montenegro is a plumber. The two of them turned the building, which had been abandoned for 10 years, into a bar with a small crew.
During construction, Musacchia liked to watch NFL games after work. But there weren’t too many sports bars in the neighborhood, he said.
“We went to a Mexican place called Picante,” Musacchia said. “They always had soccer on, so I would ask them to turn it to football and they would say, ‘We already are watching futbol.’”
The bar caters to a mix of locals and City College students. It has Sunday specials during the NFL season, 50-cent wing nights and ladies night on Thursday, trivia night on Wednesday and open mic nights throughout the week.
Some of the competitors at Saturday’s event were students atCity College. Others heard about it online or through word of mouth.
Grill on the Hill has a back room the doubles up as a small performance space with a small stage and piano.
“There used to be a Spanish piano bar in here back in the day so we wanted to bring that back,” Montenegro said. “We are trying to get someone from City College over here to help us tune it.”
The bar is happy to host events, like the tournament, which aren’t common in sports bars. It is also considering hosting “Game of Thrones” viewing parties on Sundays, Montenegro added.
The owners applied for a sidewalk cafe permit this spring.
The Super Smash Bros. tournament lasted about three hours. Szendiuch and his Pikachu made it all the way to the final game but were defeated by Brian Carela, a City College student who went by the nickname Black Sheep and played as Mega Man.
“I just brought my controller and came by,” Carela said. “Everyone seems pretty friendly, it’s a pretty chill environment, it’s pretty relaxed. I liked it.”
“We were looking for ideas to bring more people into the bar at hours that weren’t necessarily the most popular,” said Nick Candido, 23, the tournament director. “So we decided that since everybody likes Smash Bros. maybe it’d be a new crowd and maybe we could get some regulars out of it.”
The admission fee for the event was two drinks.