World Cup Crowd

World Cup Crowd

Tournament Brings New Faces to Bars

Local bars opened their doors to soccer fans from around the world.

On Friday, June 30, Sterling’s O’Faolain’s Irish Pub manager Conor Gately went from table to table, informing customers of drink specials, while catching glimpses of the 3 p.m. World Cup soccer game between Italy and Ukraine.

"We’ve had a good mix of different nationalities coming through the door," Gately said. "We’ve had a lot of new faces and colors in the bar."

The World Cup has brought new customers to the Irish bar. Gately said the cup brought in a lot of people from Eastern Europe on J-1 visas, or exchange visitors.

London residents Ed Whyte and Dave Robinson left a business meeting at Dulles Airport to catch the second half of the quarter finals between Italy and the Ukraine, Friday. The pilots worried about missing the final World Cup matches while on business in the United States.

"We were relieved to find O’Faolain’s," Robinson said. "We’ve got to watch England play tomorrow."

The World Cup is a soccer tournament between 32 countries, every four years. Teams like Brazil, Czech Republic, Portugal and Tunisia compete to determine a world champion. This year, the World Cup is in Germany.

BARS LIKE PEPE’S Mexican Restaurant in Sterling Park bring World Cup soccer games to Loudoun County.

Pepe’s Mexican Restaurant bar manager Ellie Lopez was busy taking orders while Italy and Ukraine battled on the field.

"The World Cup has had a big effect on the bar," Lopez said.

The majority of Pepe’s customers root for Argentina and Mexico.

"No matter what time of day they played, the bar would be packed," Lopez said.

During the Saturday, June 24 game between Mexico and Argentina, the Mexican restaurant was filled. While there were plenty of seats in the dining room, the bar area was crowded with rowdy fans. When Argentina scored the winning goal, Lopez said the team’s fans went crazy.

While Pepe’s was busy for Mexico and Argentina games, O’Faolain’s was packed during England, Germany and United States’ games.

Even though Ireland isn’t in the World Cup, Gately said the pub "embraces it."

"The Irish staff even cheered when England won their games," he joked. "Americans really got into the games."

IRISH BARS like O’Faolain’s and Ned Devine’s Irish Village prepared for the World Cup months in advance.

Ned Devine’s Irish Village manager John Grace said bar owners had the World Cup in mind when setting up three large projection screens.

"They’re ideal for watching the game," he said.

The Irish restaurant anticipated a large turnout for the World Cup, but the tournament hasn’t had an impact on the restaurant, Grace said, because it doesn’t open until dinnertime. Most games are over by 5 p.m.

"We were crowded during the U.S. games," Grace said, "but we’re expecting the biggest crowds next week."

IN HONOR of the World Cup, O’Faolain’s happy hour begins at 9 a.m. and ends at 7 p.m.

"We have drink specials, $3 beers and an Irish breakfast," Gately said.

An Irish breakfast is a hearty one, Gately said, including eggs, bacon and sausage, and comes with a pint of Guinness.

"For the morning games," he said.