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Queens Chronicle

Queens bars prepare for World Cup craze

Area restaurants forecasting flood of futbol fans

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Posted: Thursday, June 12, 2014 10:30 am | Updated: 11:23 am, Thu Jun 19, 2014.

One of the slogans used in the advertising campaign for the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa was “this is the one month, every four years, that we all agree on one thing.”

An undying love for the sport may unite Queens soccer fans from all corners of the globe, but that’s where the agreeing ends for many.

Expect the already active streets of the city to be a little noisier and more energetic over the next four weeks as f˙tbol fanatics from all walks of life will descend on many of the borough’s sports bars, obnoxiously-loud vuvuzelas in hand, to watch their team play for the 2014 FIFA World Cup title.

Whether you’re a fan of Argentina and global superstar Lionel Messi, Brazil, the tournament’s host-country or any one of the other 30 nations taking part in the World Cup, there are a myriad of locations throughout Queens welcoming enthusiastic supporters of any and all teams.

One soccer hotspot that expects to be swamped with flag-waving fans from 4 p.m. today, June 12, when Brazil kicks off the 32-team tournament against Croatia, until the World Cup final on July 13 is El Basurero at 32-17 Steinway St. in Astoria.

Bushwick residents Chelsey Phillips, 27, and Abe Pedroza, 26, sat at the restaurant’s bar together on Friday and watched Brazil’s exhibition match with Serbia, something the couple expects to do a lot of once the games kick off later today.

“We’ll be going somewhere in Astoria,” Pedroza, an avid Mexico fan, said. “There’s a bigger Latin community here, so we figured it would be better to watch the games here.”

Pedroza and Phillips, each donning soccer jerseys, said they don’t plan on watching every game in Queens, but they’ll still be screaming and yelling over the matches they watch at home because of a friendly wager the couple agreed to.

“If his team loses, he has to make me a Brazilian dinner,” Phillips, a diehard Brazil fan, said. “If my team loses, I have to make him Mexican food.”

Phillips, who expects her team to “win it all,” and Pedroza are just two of the hundreds of fans manager Ramon Badillo expects to come to the restaurant over the course of the World Cup.

“We’ve gotten a lot of calls from people already. We’ve been preparing for two months,” Badillo said. “The last World Cup, people couldn’t even walk on the sidewalk outside because there were so many people here enjoying the games.”

While the venue supports the Colombian team, flags of most of the competing nations hang from the ceiling and mannequins throughout the restaurant don Spanish, Mexican and Brazilian jerseys among others.

“Our team may be Colombia, but we welcome anyone,” he said.

Like Badillo, bartender Gaby Vasquez expects El Basurero to be packed with all different types of fans all month.

“I think it will be mixed,” Vasquez said of the expected crowd. “It’s going to be very packed but we’ll make a lot of money.”

For fans of Brazil who want to watch their team try and win its record sixth World Cup, Favela Grill at 33-18 28 Ave. in Astoria is “the place to be” according to manager Artur Goncales.

“For Brazil games, it always gets packed,” Goncales said. “We have specials and giveaways like Brazilian flags.”

Alex Carvalho, an Astoria resident who came to Favela Grill with friends to watch Brazil’s 1-0 win over Croatia, says there’s nothing like the atmosphere inside the restaurant during a game.

“It’s like a beach in Brazil, man,” Carvalho said. “If I’m here in Queens, I’ll definitely be watching the games here.”

While Brazil and Spain, the 2010 champion, have been pegged as two of the favorites to hoist the World Cup trophy next month, Argentina, Brazil’s bitter rival, is also expected by many to be a serious championship contender.

Mathias Coni, the manager of the Argentinian-themed Boca Juniors restaurant at 81-08 Queens Blvd. in Elmhurst, hopes for the throngs of customers he expects to fill the tables of his eatery that those experts are correct.

“People bring in drums and flags. It’s hectic,” Coni said of the crowds during the 2010 World Cup. “It’s going to be a free-for-all; a lot of fun.”

Newly purchased flat-screen televisions have been installed all around the venue, named after the Argentinian professional soccer club, just in time for the World Cup.

According to Coni, ownership will even be hiring a bouncer to keep the frenzy at safe levels.

Nearly every square inch of the walls of the restaurant features images from Argentina’s two previous World Cup victories in 1978 and 1986, as well as posters of famous players scoring goals for the Boca Juniors, described by Coni as the “New York Yankees of Argentina.”

Much like 2010, he expects hundreds of fans to flock to his Argentinian soccer shrine. However, he expects even more patrons to come through the doors for Argentina’s first game on Sunday.

“It’s Father’s Day too, so we’re going to have that many more people,” Coni said. “They will be lining up out the door all month.”

Welcome to the discussion.