Fans ditch work to watch US advance in World Cup

Business not slowing for local bars and restaurants

SAN ANTONIO – Thousands of fans clad in red, white and blue packed local bars and restaurants Thursday to watch the U.S. Men's National Team advance to the round of 16 in the FIFA World Cup.

"It was a good game even though we lost," said Fernando Martinez, who took in the game at 210 Ceviche.

The United States fell to Germany 1-0, but thanks to Portugal's victory over Ghana the team advanced on goal differential. Many pundits gave the U.S. a slim chance to make it out of the so-called "group of death," but fans kept believing.

"We both predicted it," said Jesus Perez, motioning to his friend, Clayton Lundgren. "We just knew coming into the Germany game, hopefully we could have (already) clinched. It wasn't the way it happened. We had to play it out, but I'm glad we got through to the next round."

Like many fans in San Antonio, Perez and Lundgren are still riding high off of the Spurs' fifth NBA championship.

"The celebration hasn't even stopped because it's basically been a smooth transition from one championship to going to the next round of the World Cup," Lundgren said. "We're ready to go as far as we can."

Business is booming

The proximity of the World Cup to the NBA Finals has meant big business for local bars and restaurants.

"During the weekday we see roughly a 60 percent increase in business," said Freetail Brewing Company General Manager Jason Smith. "During the weekend games probably about 40 (percent increase). We've definitely had to staff-up for it."

210 Ceviche was not as packed Thursday, but manager Ismael Angel said that will change come Sunday afternoon. The restaurant has become a hugely popular place to watch the Mexican National Team.

"When Mexico plays it gets super busy," Angel said. "We have people coming in from all over. They don't even know where to sit, they just go straight to the bar."

If both teams continue to advance, the boom in business will continue, and Angel hopes the restaurant may get a chance to toast champagne to the World Cup champion United States or Mexico.

"We'll definitely be ready," he said.