How America’s Best Soccer Bars Prepared for the World Cup

Publicans are scrambling to get ready for a new generation of hooligans.

“It’s like having 20 St. Patrick’s days in a row, but even busier than that,” says Jon Forget of working at a soccer-centric pub during the World Cup. Forget, who owns The Three Lions in Denver, spent the 2010 tournament catering to the roughly 3,500 people that flocked to the British Bulldog, which used to be the only spot in town for serious soccer fans. This year, Forget’s brother will be managing the Bulldog and Forget will be trying to maintain his sanity while working – he estimates – 15 to 18 hours for 20 days straight. “I’m just hoping I’ll get the occasional chance to glance at the TVs,” he says.

The guy has a lot of televisions, some 17 screens in his expansive pub and two 70-inch screens hanging in the windows, facing the tented beer garden he got a permit to erect for overflow crowds. In the service of getting more customers in and keeping them happy, he’s also taken out most of the bar’s furniture and hired a handful of new staff he’s spent the last three months training. “We are a soccer bar,” he says. “This is what we do.”

Forget isn’t alone. Paddy McCarthy, who owns Manhattan’s Nevada Smiths, has hired 20 people to help him handle World Cup crowds. He’s even traded out the glass and china for plastic to help his workers cater to a crowd that will either be toasting new heroes or drawing American sorrows. “The thing about this World Cup is that the timings are perfect for the audience with games going on at noon, three, and six,” he says. “I think we’ll be booked out from one end to the other.” He’s stocked his four-floor bar with extra booze and Cachaça, a strong, sweet Brazilian liquor.

Asked about the size of crowds he expects, McCarthy just laughs and says, “Capacity is 400.”

Michelle Gray, who owns The Richmond Arms Pub in Houston, won’t even estimate how many people will show up to her bar, which is hugely popular with Dynamo fans. “I don’t want to give a number because Mr. Fire Marshal might get ideas,” she says with a laugh. Like Forget, she’s erected a tent outside her establishment to deal with the fans she’ll be catering to starting at 9 AM every morning. As for booze, she says local suppliers are “on standby.”

And it’s not just traditionally raucous soccer bars. Brazilian bars are bracing for impact. The staff at Miss Favela, a cozy eatery in Brooklyn, has already preemptively apologized to the neighbors. It’s going to get busy and it’s going to get loud. That’s just what happens during the World Cup.

Photos by Zero Creatives / Image Source / Corbis