WATCHING THE WORLD CUP

I caught some of the game (boo-hoo) at lunch at the Dubliner. It was packed. So was the Press Box Grill, downtown. And a law-practicing FBvian tells us that the Press Box wasn’t too happy about the influx of soccer fans:

Several soccer-loving colleagues and I decided to take a very long lunch today in order to watch the USA vs. Czech Republic World Cup game, which started at 11 am. At one time this would have required a car trip outside the downtown freeway loop but, thankfully, the downtown “renaissance” has featured, if nothing else, the emergence of a couple of sports viewing establishments. Or so we thought.

We arrived at the “Press Box Grill” (Main and Ervay in the old Wilson Building) at 10:50 to find the place every bit as crowded as at the height of the lunchtime rush, with every table full and all eyes on the soccer game–which was being shown on all twenty or so TVs in the place. We enjoyed a solid but far from spectacular pub-grub lunch over the course of the first half, interrupted by bar-wide bursts of cheering and groaning as the soccer Yanks fell behind the Czechs 2-0. We paid our check at half-time, tipping generously but explaining that we were there for the duration of the game. Other tables around us did the same thing. However, no sooner had the second half commenced when we were confronted by the owner/manager (a burly chap with longish blond hair and a blond goatee) who brusquely explained that if we “didn’t need anything else” then we “needed to leave” because he “had people waiting.” Stunned by this turn of events, I mentioned that I had never been asked to leave a sports bar during the course of the game that I had come there to watch–especially after buying a full meal. The owner/manager responded “I’m not running a sports bar, I’m running a restaurant that has lots of TVs.” This obscure distinction was somehow lost on me, so I continued to plead our case, pointing out that we had made a special effort to get there early for the game and noting that we had other sports-viewing option downtown. “Go there then, my lunch crowd is waiting” was the only response I received. Other tables appeared to be receiving similar treatment.

On one level I am comforted that our downtown restaurants are apparently doing so well that they can rudely turn away business. I am also grateful to now know that the “Press Box” is “not a sports bar” but rather “a restaurant with lots of TVs” that just happen to show sports. I’ll be sure to keep that in mind for the duration of the World Cup, the Mavs play-off run, and the upcoming football season. I hope you will inform your readers of this distinction, too, so that they can avoid making the mistake of trying to watch a complete game there.

Finally, I am grateful to the burly blond chap for sparing me from the site of my country’s team getting its head kicked-in by the Czech Republic (3-0 at present and getting worse as the game goes on).

I sympathize with managment for wanting to turn tables, but that’s no way to treat customers. Once you’ve established yourself at a table, that table is YOURS. Man Law. Especially if you compensate your waitress, knowing that you’ll be loitering.

But there is one simple way that customers can win here: simply eat very slowly.

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