The highly anticipated matchup between England and Italy made for a busy day at some Victoria pubs, bringing a much-needed boost to the hospitality industry.
“Having all the people in here, booking tables, you get that buzz in the room,” says Penny Farthing Pub Manager, Sam Watson.
Adding, it feels like old times, as there wasn’t an empty seat in sight Sunday afternoon.
“It kind of sends you back to what it used to be like when you could do stuff like this. It’s like we’re finally near the light at the end of the tunnel,” added Watson.
Elsewhere, owners of Italian restaurants and English pubs said they expect their patios to fill up, at least to the capacity allowed under remaining rules meant to curb the spread of COVID-19.
Rocco Mastrangelo, who owns Cafe Diplomatico in Toronto, said the championship series has reminded him of his restaurant’s days before the pandemic hit.
“I’m excited and have butterflies in my stomach. We opened reservations especially for the final’s night and we’re completely booked with 160 people, which is a big chunk of our patio’s total capacity,” he said.
Mastrangelo tried to acquire a permit to expand his business to set up more tables for the night, but it was denied due to ongoing COVID-19 restrictions.
“Let’s just say, if Italy wins, we’ll be partying all night,” he said.
Pub Bishop & Bagg, meanwhile, was in a somewhat unusual situation. The British-style pub is located near Montreal’s Little Italy neighbourhood, so manager Megan Turcotte expects to see supporters of both teams.
“People are super excited, it brings everyone together,” she said. “They drink a lot and they are loud. Some even sit in the streets and watch from afar on our televisions.”
Italian Anthony Colaniro, also of Montreal, has never seen Italy win the Euro cup before and doesn’t want to miss his chance.
“It’s all about Italy, of course!” he said. “I will be watching the game with my family, 20 people, and a lot of food!”
The desire for celebration throughout the Euro cup has driven customers to Ottawa’s Pub Italia in droves, manager Kirsten Wright said, but as the restaurant gets busier, some new challenges are arising.
“We’ve been having serious trouble with staffing shortages, and just making sure our patios can fit all our customers,” Wright said. “If we took reservations for Sunday, we’d have been booked up in minutes.”
The game got underway at 3 p.m. Eastern, marking England’s first time in the final of a major international competition since winning the 1966 World Cup.
However, England’s painful half-century wait for a major title will go on, at least for now. Italy won the European Championship for the second time, defeating England 3-2 on penalties.
The match finished 1-1 after extra time. Gianluigi Donnarumma dived to his left and saved the decisive spot kick by Bukayo Saka.
It was England’s third straight failure from the penalty spot in the shootout in front of its own fans at Wembley Stadium.
With files from The Canadian Press and The Associated Press.