German forward Thomas Müller fires the ball toward the net, just out of U.S. goalie Tim Howard’s reach. The crowd at Quinn’s NYC Bar & Grill, an Irish-American bar in Hell’s Kitchen, lets out a collective groan. Though it's one o’clock on a Thursday afternoon, beers accumulate on the locale’s jam-packed tables. There’s plenty to watch during this World Cup summer—and Manhattan’s bar owners are cheering about more than footie.
On average, Quinn’s has seen 40% to 50% more customers daily since the start of the World Cup in early June. During U.S. games, it's a 700% to 800% increase.“People have been coming in for lunch to watch the games,” says Tony Quinn, the bar’s owner. “Or they’re taking half days and drinking.”
Quinn, who emigrated to America from Ireland in 1993, has seen U.S. interest in the World Cup grow since his early days in the country, “especially after the US hosted in 1994.” According to FIFA, soccer's governing body, American viewership climbed 20% between the 2006 and 2010 tournaments, more than any other country. The United States’ match against Portugal last Sunday brought in 24.7 million viewers, breaking America’s record for the most watched soccer game—and even surpassing the average audience for the 2014 NBA Finals and the 2013 World Series.
Quinn’s is one of many Manhattan bars getting a World Cup windfall. At Hurley’s Saloon in Midtown, the place is jammed with suits. Many top their tailored attire with hairy (and hilarious) red, white, and blue headbands. Anne Calimano, the bar’s manager, estimates that Hurley’s has 75% more customers during games and says revenue has been “way up percentage-wise.” She adds: “It’s been phenomenal for all bars.”
Fans who are American transplants, xenophiles, or simply want to celebrate their ancestors’ heritage have plenty of options, too. German restaurant and biergarten Zum Schneider, located in Alphabet City, normally opens at 4 p.m., but has been unlocking its doors early for the World Cup. Some games are packed; others are not. When Germany plays, the restaurant is completely full. German fans have been taking sick days or vacation days so that they can watch the games, says the restaurant’s manager.
Emporium Brasil, a haven for fans of the host country’s team, is showing every game in the World Cup. Manager Bruno Cardoso says it has 20% more customers during any given game, and even more for Brazil’s games. “We get mixed crowds for the Brazil games,” explains Cardoso. “It’s not just Brazilians or Americans: people from everywhere come to watch the games. Just not Chileans.” (Brazil knocked Chile out of the tournament on Sunday after two overtime periods. After maintaining a 1-1 tie in overtime, Brazil won the shootout 3-2.)
The Tonic Bar Times Square is a Dutch sports bar, but attracts more than a Dutch following. Their lunch crowd on an average day has doubled since the World Cup began and revenues have increased over 20%. American and Dutch fans flock to the three-story bar to watch their respective teams, says Declan Carroll, Tonic’s assistant general manager. The Dutch stay loyal to their country’s refreshments: Heineken is the most sold beer during the Netherlands’ games.
“You want to know how the World Cup affects our business? Look at this place,” jokes a bartender at Iron Bar & Lounge, gesturing to the crowd of spectators on Thursday afternoon. “We’re behind on everything. But it’s a good behind.” Cardoso echoes that sentiment. “Guess what?” he asks with a grin. “People are already making reservations for the final.”
No matter the team, there’s a place in New York City for soccer fans to cheer. And at that bar, there’s likely an owner happily benefiting from their growing enthusiasm.
Graphic by: Analee Kasudia