SANTA MARIA, Calif. -- The world's biggest soccer tournament has been a big score for businesses on the Central Coast. Since the start of the FIFA World Cup in Brazil on June 12th, fans have packed area restaurants, bars and other gathering places to catch the games on television.
At the Santa Maria Brewing Company in Nipomo, which has only been open since January, business has increased significantly according to manager Rick Pike. The tap room has been adopted as the home base for the local chapter of the "American Outlaws," a national fan group of the U.S. Men's National Team. During each of the the American team's four games, the Outlaws have brought spirit and passion, often times breaking out in chants and songs.
In Santa Maria at Stinky's Grill, owner David Perez says business has also benefited from the World Cup. "I think across the board, we're looking at maybe a ten percent increase in business, today we're probably going to double our business today," said Perez.
On Thursday, patrons filled Stinky's Grill to watch the game, a heartbreaking 2-1 loss to Belgium in extra time for the United States. "It's always fun to get together with friends, drink some beers and watch any sporting event," said Lompoc resident Jamie Robertson.
Perez says he was rooting for the United States for more than just patriotic reasons. "I think we'll definitely see a decrease in the turnout on the business that the World Cup is bringing," said Perez. The restaurant has also seen an increase in business during Mexico's World Cup games, but like the U.S., El Tri has also been eliminated.
While the United States and Mexico are both eliminated from the tournament, fans still have an opportunity to watch the game's best over the next few days. The quarterfinals will feature four games over Friday and Saturday, with the championship match scheduled for July 13th in Rio de Janeiro.