During a World Cup, when I walk into an Italian pizzeria and see a poster of the Italy national team photo hanging up on the wall in the kitchen, it brings a smile to my face. Or when I walk into a traditional Mexican restaurant and see a sea of green, white and red colors lighting up the room. Or the Brazilian restaurants where the samba music escapes out of the building and into the streets where it’s met with the sight of yellow and green shirts and flags.
Then, of course, there are the British pubs filled with happy and drunken Englishmen. Going into one of those pubs is like walking into a cavern and then being blinded by the sun as you walk out delirious after another England penalty nightmare.
The one major thing that’s missing however is the American identity of a World Cup. What American restaurants or bars or buildings can one enjoy the World Cup which are truly American and have an American feel about them? Sports bars are okay but how many truly American sports bars are welcoming the World Cup with open arms this summer? Pubs are great, but many of them focus on British culture rather than something American.
But then what is American culture? Is it not a melting pot of cultures from around the world?
If I had to picture what an American World Cup experience should be like this summer, I would focus on what America does best. Great customer service, excellent traditional American food, a clean and smoke-free establishment, big television sets and a state-of-the-art sound system. British pubs are wonderful experiences, but they’re often cramped, smoky, hot and the service is usually disappointing. What America needs is a venue they can visit where they feel comfortable. Center stage would be a massive HD television set (or a wall where a crystal-clear image of the TV picture is projected). The sound system would allow you to hear the commentary above the din of the crowd. There would be the Star Spangled Banner hanging from the walls and ceiling. The food would be the burgers, wings, ribs, hot dogs variety — all cooked to perfection. And topping it all off would the exuberance shown by the waitstaff who would be conscientious, attentive and would serve up a steady flow of food and drinks to satisfy any customer.
Does such an establishment exist? Perhaps, but I’m not aware of it.
The 2010 World Cup is time for American bars and restaurants to realize how profitable a World Cup can be for them. Sure, many of the games are on in the mornings, but the weekend afternoon games will be an ideal opportunity for the restaurant business to make good money during hard times. Whether they’ll wise up to it, let’s wait and see.