The World Cup has been underway in Brazil for only one day, but Kelowna business owner Nick Sintichakis can already tell that it’s going to be a big draw for his customers.
The owner of Tonic’s Pub has been playing the friendly matches on his big screen TVs in the lead-up to the official World Cup start, and it’s drawn in a steady stream of footy fans looking for a group-watching experience.
“People are really excited about it, there’s a huge soccer market in Kelowna,” he said. “You don’t hear a lot about it usually, but with the World Cup coming every four years, excitement builds.”
The event anticipated to really bring the first bumper crop of fans, is Saturday’s England match. The pub has seating room for more than 150, and there’s a distinct possibility that every seat will be filled.
Sintichakis, however, will have watched his first game long before the downtown pub opens its doors. As his name may have already given away, he’ll be cheering for Greece on Saturday and their match begins at 9 a.m.
While Tonic’s isn’t opening for early games, there are a number of other stops in the city that are.
Cody Chambers, the general manager of Rivals on Bernard Avenue, said their pub will be opening early to accommodate the 9 a.m. games.
At the Brazil/Croatia match that started the games Thursday, Rivals was already hopping with football fans, much to Chambers’s surprise.
Those interested in imbibing for the earlier matches will also be able, as the pub has a morning liquor licence.
Sturgeon Hall downtown will also be open, and welcoming customers keen on watching the games throughout the day and night.
As one of the few pub-type environments that welcomes children, it was a hub of activity throughout the previous World Cup.
Also expected to open their doors for the stream of soccer fans over the weekend are Brandt’s Creek pub and Baxters Grill.